DJ, Mobile DJ, Dhol, Lighting, AV + Special Effects
DJ Raj: Founder and owner, Sound Nation. Raj Gujral has always loved music. At a young age he was always into music and would record songs from the radio on a tape, like many of us did. When he was 16 he decided to take it a step further and started his first DJ company. He advertised his services around Artesia, also known as SoCal’s “Little India.” When his partner left the company he joined Kumba, and helped grow it to the largest desi DJ company in SoCal – at one point with 25 DJs. Today Raj is SoCal’s longest running Indian DJ and the owner of Sound Nation. Beyond DJ services he does lighting design and implementation, full AV and special effects. His company handles about 100 events a year. When he’s not DJing he’s managing his sports bar, Draughts Restaurant & Bar in Thousand Oaks, CA.
Raj recently opened for Earth, Wind, and Fire at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV and is currently working on a concert for Jay Sean and Sonu Nigam. He has also travelled to various locations to perform such as, Panama, Texas, NY, Florida, Mexico, Costa Rica, just to name a few.
What’s sets Sound Nation apart?
Our experience and our talent. We’ve DJ’d events for various religions and races in the South Asian and the American coummunities. We understand the cultural nuances of each event. We know what music to play and when to play it. We have also performed at a majority of the venues in SoCal. This gives us an insight of what and how much equipment we will need whether its for Sound or Lighting. We also have the only DJ in SoCal who specializes in Sri Lankan weddings, DJ Thushanga Fernando.Thushanga aka ‘T’, has more than a decade of experience and specializes in Sri Lankan weddings.
What should a couple look for in their wedding DJ?
Number 1: Talent. Is the DJ capable of handling your event so that you and your guests have a great time?
Number 2: Experience. The best practices come from experience. Can your DJ “roll with the punches.” Indian weddings are very involved and a lot can happen which requires some rapid thinking on your feet. In my over 20 years of DJ’ing I’ve come across a lot of situations that have required me to adapt quickly.
Number 3: Ability to read the crowd. I’m constantly thinking, “what’s the next song that will bring the energy level up?” Can the DJ adapt to the crowd? We don’t have a generic playlist we use at every wedding. Every event is unique.Number 4: Can the DJ handle unforeseen circumstances? Though rarely – we’ve all been there – when unexpected things happen. What matters is the ability to deal with it. I’ve been in this business for 20 years and am lucky to have a big network within the DJ and music community. If I need equipment or help last minute, I know where to go, who to call, and what to do.
Number 5: Is the DJ having fun? All eyes are on the DJ during a party. If the DJ is not having fun and enjoying his/her work, others won’t either. You don’t want a boring DJ behind the decks who just plays one song to the next. You want someone who has energy in the DJ booth and that energy bounces back and forth between the DJ and the crowd.
Can you share some lighting tips?
Sure. Lighting can make a big difference in the ambiance of your room. A good lighting setup can give you the classic sophisticated look for dinner and also turn that same room in to a nightclub when the dancing starts. At a minimum I usually suggest uplighting, lighting for the sweetheart and cake tables. The bride and groom will be sitting on stage at the sweetheart table, much of the evening so it’s nice to make them stand out. The cake is on display much of the night and lighting brings out its beauty even more. Of course this is the bare minimum and most weddings need a lot more and there are some weddings that we do an extensive lighting setup.
Other things we suggest are centerpiece lighting to make them pop – that really gives the room a ‘wow factor’ when guests walk in. Names or initials on the dance floor look great in-person and in photos.
How should clients negotiate?
I think it’s important for clients to first remember that negotiation is a 2-way street. Some people simply aren’t savvy at negotiation and of course there are some people who believe it’s a 1 way street. In any business transaction where negotiation occurs there has to be some give and take from both sides. I always try my best to accommodate clients who ask me to lower my price. I go back and look at the bundle of services and suggest where we can reduce or remove some services.
I take pride in every event as I believe in the success of the event, whether a client hires me or not. I rarely ever advertise and I rely almost a 100% on word-of-mouth referrals. If I wasn’t an honest businessman and a good DJ, I wouldn’t have lasted for over 20 years in our community.
Contact Sound Nation for your wedding and events: