I had the opportunity to sit down with Berto – AKA DJ Himzz – on a snowy January afternoon for an interview. I was really impressed by his professionalism, motivation and fun attitude. As an added bonus – he is bilingual in English and Spanish! He filmed our interview and I’ve also transcribed it below. Keep reading to find out more about him!
What made you want to become a DJ?
I’ve always had an interest in music. As a kid I would record music from the radio. I would have a cassette and a boom box and I would hit record. That was what people would call a mix tape. But as a kid I never had an interest in becoming a DJ. My mom and I have the same birthday so we celebrated our birthday at the same time every year. But then on my 16th birthday party, my mom let me invite a few friends over. We had a family friend that was a club DJ and he saw me playing good music. I always had this thing where I wanted to play music that people would react to. He said, “You should be a DJ. You’re playing good music. I’m going to ask your mom to see if I can bring you out to one of my gigs.” I went to a wedding with him and I remember it like it was yesterday. He showed me the ropes. When I went home I was so excited. I went on Ebay and bought a hundred dollar little DJ system. I practiced every day and I remember using my mom’s TV as a speaker since I didn’t have speakers. After I got a little bit of confidence I felt that I was ready to go on my own. I begged my mom to let me go play in a club and eventually she let me go DJ at a club with that family friend at age 17. I did it for a free a few times and then I started getting paid and I just fell in love with it. I’ve been doing this for 12 years now – the first six were in clubs and the last six were more weddings and private events.
Your Instagram page says “fired, quit, fired, success at 27”. Can you give a little more background on that?
I’ve always had multiple jobs. The longest I’ve had another job was a year. After 3-6 months I either get bored, I quit, or I get fired. I was working at Guitar Center in the DJ department. But there was something about me working an hourly job that didn’t allow me to feel that freedom. I got fired from that job. I quit my job at the Hilton – I was a waiter. Then I was working at u-break-I-fix where I was fixing phones and tablets. I got fired from there. At that point I was done with that and just had to go full force into my DJ business. Being a DJ, I had to sacrifice listening to music. In the car I was listening to motivational things, business things, seminars, how to become a business person, and how to market yourself,. In the past year and a half I’ve been so hard on educating myself and that’s what has allowed me to grow and become a successful person. At 26 I got fired, and at 27 I could see all the hard work starting to pay off and I felt the freedom to do this on my own at 27. Now I’m at the point where I want to delete my resume because I don’t think I’ll ever work at an hourly job again. The harder you work, the more that comes to you.
What is something you enjoy doing in your free time?
First of all, spending time with my daughter. Once that is taken care of and I have more time for me, I like to practice my DJ skills. I scratch and I have turntables at the house and I love them. It’s like drawing for me. It’s the more artistic and creative side of DJing. I have picked up drawing a little bit. I also have started producing and directing things. I directed my first two professional commercials and wrote the script myself. I’m discovering this more artistic side of me the more I get into my DJ business.
What is your current must-have song on all of your playlists?
Like I said, I’m not listening to that much music. I have a music director that downloads my music and organizes it on a hard-drive and every Friday before my gigs we go over what the hot songs are in the different genres. I don’t like that I’m doing that because I’m a music nerd and I want to hear the music but I need to sacrifice some of that leisure time to self-educate myself because I want to succeed. Rather than listening to music on the radio I listen to educational and business stuff. It’s gotten me here. I really don’t have certain music I like, but I really play for the crowd. My must-have song on every playlist is your favorite song.
What differentiates you from other DJ’s in the Milwaukee area?
I’ve done my research and if you were to google Milwaukee Bilingual DJ, there are none. I’ve called other companies that say they have bilingual DJs and ask if they have bilingual DJs. They say “Well, our music is bilingual, but not the DJ.” Maybe there is a DJ out there and I just haven’t found it, but there’s a niche there for me. I’m completely bilingual. 90% of my clients are bilingual clients. There was a space that needed to be filled and I was ready to fill it. I went in and ready to dominate that space with full force. When I attend meetings I show up wearing a suit. Sometimes I ask my clients why they chose to sign the contract that day and they say “As soon as I saw you show up in a suit, I told my wife, that’s him. That’s our guy.” You have to do a good job and I have that attitude that nobody is going to stop me. Something that I always say is go the extra mile – not because you’re supposed to, but because it works. I’ve seen the competition and tell myself if I can just do a little more than them, then I can dominate.
What are the DJ/entertainment services you offer for weddings?
When people get the DJ service they always ask what is included. With the DJ service you get the DJ, the sound system, the dance floor lights, and a wireless mic. I also offer uplighting service where you can convert the entire room to a certain color and adds a dramatic effect to the room. We can also do Gobos/monograms and other lighting where we can project your initials on the wall. We recently added Snapchat services. We design the filter and get that set up for you and then the next day we download all the photos to a USB and send that to you so you have all the photos. It’s a great service! As the DJ we announce that there’s a Snapchat filter too and get people to use it. This year we are revamping our menu and we will be adding some things. One of the things we will be adding will be those LED foam sticks. The bilingual services are completely free – you just have to ask for it. That’s pretty much it. We like to keep it pretty simple.
How would you describe your personality as a DJ – especially as an emcee at a wedding?
I do a lot of weddings and I get a lot of feedback. So I’d like to share with you what other people have said about me and not what I say about me. The number one thing they say is that I’m interactive. I come out of the DJ booth. I’m like a host, especially when introducing the bridal party. I’m energetic. And I know how to play the right music at the right time. I have a good vibe with the crowd, and I’m friendly!
How do you determine what music to play at an event?
I see what the crowd is reacting to and play more of what the crowd reacts to. But every scenario is different. I’ve done concerts, clubs, and weddings. At the clubs there’s a term called “breaking a record” where you’re the first person to play that song at the club and the people react to it. And people want to hear that kind of thing at the club – they want new stuff. At a wedding if you try and play new things, people are like “Come on, man”. At a wedding people want to be able to sing along and dance to the songs they already know. You have to really know your crowd and your music. Some DJ’s don’t like requests, but if someone requests a song and it fits into what you’re playing right now you better be able to search it up and mix it in nice and look good in front of the crowd. And then that person that requested the song thinks you’re a really good DJ with the way you handle the request and fit it in perfectly.
How do you get a crowd excited and on the floor at an event?
The vibe is everything. If people are having a good time I will keep them going by playing songs they know, can sing along to or if the song has a special dance… they’ll love it!
What has been your most memorable event that you’ve been the DJ for?
One of my biggest events I’ve done was at a concert in Chicago. I opened for a Mexican rap group, Kinto Sol, from Milwaukee but they’re huge in LA and Mexico. The guy that was opening up for them said he needed a DJ for it. It was in front of 2,000 people and it was my first time performing in front of that many people. We had so much fun and really rocked it. There was a lot of scratching and more of the things I really love to do. It was incredible. I got goosebumps being in front of a crowd like that. That was probably my most memorable moment. I felt like a superstar and fell in love with performing.
What is your favorite part about being a DJ?
I love when people tell me that I made their party THEE party. You could have the best food and linens and a great photographer, but it’s up to the entertainment to make the party memorable. When people tell me that I made their party happen I get a rush. People remember how you make them feel. If I made their wedding awesome they’re going to remember that. They will look back on it and think it was an awesome party. It’s an awesome feeling for me too.
Do you have any projects you’re currently working on?
I have an active mind and I think a lot. I’m working on recording more videos for my YouTube channel. My YouTube channel is growing. I want to be a mentor and give out training, DJ tips and product reviews on my YouTube channel. I’ve been a DJ for 12 years and I have a lot of knowledge. There’s a culture in the DJ world where if you want to be a DJ you either have to know someone and get lucky or you just learn it as you go. I think we should change it around. I want to be that person that helps someone become a great DJ and I can help them do it the right way. It took me 12 years to get here but I can help someone do it in five years. A lot of people ask me why I’m building competition for myself but I always tell them my brand is strong enough and that I have confidence in myself. I’m fully booked and even if everyone becomes a DJ people still want me. I’m the only Berto. My biggest goal is that I want to write a book about DJ tips, something fun and informational. That’s what I want to do with my YouTube channel is to gather that following and get that information out there.
Why do you do this with such ambition and passion?
First of all to be an example for my daughter that you can follow your heart and escape the 9-5 rat race . I feel miserable training for a job, getting the experience to get really good at it and then end up just leaving it. I was sick of that cycle. One of my biggest fears is dying without unleashing my full potential. Because if you die and you still had more in the tank then you wasted it. I think I can do more than working an hourly job and I want to show my daughter that you can escape. You can do whatever you want to do if you’re willing to work hard. That’s why I do what I do. I love it every day.
Check out DJ Himzz at the following places
Youtube Channel: DJ Himzz
FaceBook: DJ Himzz
Fill out the form below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org