How did you start your DJ career?
Well I always knew I wanted to be a DJ. I loved music and I started DJing in my bedroom at 13 years old. I always wanted some Technic 1210s but couldn't afford them on my measly pocket money as a teenager, but still saved up enough to buy my first Numark TT100s. This is how I discovered I loved to DJ on turntables and I quickly learned how to mix.
What music were you into at the beginning?
Now I'm not sure if I should answer this, because I'm not proud of it! Here goes... my dirty little secret is... I used to mix Donk. I know, I know. I'm ashamed!!! In my defence, I was brought up in Burnley and it was a massive part of my youth, all my mates loved it and I was able to provide the music and the beat while my friends would MC over the top. I even started playing in Donk clubs and specialist bars at an early age before seeing the light, realising it was a passing terrible fad and moving into the commercial scene.
And what music do you love now?
Definitely not donk and definitely not cheese! I like old school dance, RnB or a remix of good old commercial stuff. That being said, there’s no better buzz than playing the music the guests love and watching them have an amazing time on the dance floor.
I love to mix and my style has definitely evolved over the years. I have played in some incredible clubs and bars over the years and would like to think I've made a smooth transformation into a DJ you'd class as 'cool'. I love working with live musicians. This can help create a high energy ambience. There's nothing better than building up a crowd with live music.
When did you start to take your DJing seriously as a profession?
I remember being at family weddings and parties, the type in a social club with a DJ playing the music, and I was in awe of the power he had over the dance floor. Play a great tune? Everyone danced. Drop something a little out of the ordinary? They’d scarper. It fascinated me.
I started to take notice of the songs that always worked and started to build a playlist of foolproof party tracks. I took these observations and started to DJ in bars when I was only 15. When I turned 17, after a tough apprenticeship as a forklift truck driver, I decided music was my first love and to make it a proper profession as a full time mobile DJ.
I couldn't afford the gear at first, so I had to pay out to hire the equipment I needed. I wanted to be taken seriously and I knew I needed quality gear to stand out. There were many mobile DJs working parties and weddings and I was conscious my age would be seen as a disadvantage. Though only a teenager, I persisted. I knew that being a DJ was my calling in life and was genuinely happy with the £25 profit I was making on every gig. I was young, I still lived at home so I saved every penny I earned for two years to invest in my very own high quality equipment and lights.
I always took my work seriously, and still do. I continually invest in my equipment and my professional development. I still look for ways to improve on every gig. I think you can't afford to get complacent in this profession. You have such an important job and it’s an honour to be a part of what is regarded as the best day of someone's life. It is a performance at the end of the day, and you're also only as good as your last gig.
A little bird tells me you were a radio presenter, tell us more.
From the age of 15, alongside my bar DJ job, I had a show on Burnley Hospital Radio. I loved presenting and was proud to have the only show on the hospital radio that was sponsored - by Padiham Carpets! I had my own jingles and everything.
Then when I was 18, I really wanted to get a job on my local radio station 2BR. I would literally do anything to be a part of it, and so I became the 'Balmy Bear' mascot. Yes, I dressed up in a bear costume, heading out to live gigs and events, dancing in my fluffy costume, desperate not to be recognised!
Being the mascot got me a ticket inside the station. When I wasn’t in that bear costume, I was offering to make the tea, learning how to edit audio for broadcast and making myself indispensable wherever I could. I patiently waited for my chance to prove myself and get my big break with a proper commercial radio show.
When I was 19 that break came. Another presenter called in sick for their weekend show and they said “You’re on!”.
I started covering the graveyard shifts at first and eventually landed the cushty slot of 10am to 2pm daytime on 2BR. I rolled in at 9, rolled out at 2:01pm and life was amazing. I was also spending my evenings DJing in clubs like Lava and Ignite and Chicagos so was busy and loving life. My confidence soared and my presenting got better and better.
I had a slot where we'd welcome local bands along and actually interviewed Artists by DFC entertainment manager, Jamie Turner and Chris Scott who is the lead singer of our amazing wedding band, Chris & Co (small world). Chris did a live performance for me and I said he had the "voice of Michael Buble but the face like he has an ASBO" and it got me in loads of trouble, but got Chris and Jamie loads of publicity - they were on the front page of the Burnley Express!
I moved on from 2BR and also worked at other notable and high profile radio stations including The Bee and 97.4 Rock FM before being asked to become the match day announcer at Accrington Stanley football club. I met and interviewed lots of famous footballers and sportspeople (including Robbie Savage here with me at Accrington Stanley).
I did this for many years and only gave that one up a couple of years ago when wedding hosting started to soar in popularity. I was hosting more and more weddings on a match day and so sadly had to say goodbye to it.
I interviewed some brilliant people though and definitely honed my presenting skills even further. It takes a lot of skill and patience to entertain a rowdy football crowd!
So how did you end up becoming a wedding host?
I already knew of DFC Managing Director, Robin Kershaw and had admired from afar the cool, high quality and luxury vibe that DFC stood for. I also knew he’d been taking inspiration from modern day American weddings and had started to incorporate the USA way of wedding hosting into his work.
My main motivation as a wedding DJ had always been to do the best job possible and realised that hosting could be the secret ingredient to the best wedding ever. I’d heard really good things about wedding hosting, and Robin hosting in particular so I set up a meeting with him to find out more.
We got on immediately and realised that we had shared values when it comes to our DJ and hosting profession. Robin had also come from the club and bar scene, we were really similar and enjoyed the same kind of music. I loved the idea of being in a team of likeminded people who were as passionate as myself about changing the old outdated stereotype of a mobile DJ.
I started wedding hosting alongside being an evening wedding DJ with the DFC team from day one. I’ve been a part of the team for three years now and would never look back. I love doing an amazing job every time and proving how valuable a good wedding host and professional wedding DJ can be.
How do you like to bring a wedding to life as a wedding host?
It starts with really getting to know my couples. I love meeting with them, their families, wedding party and finding out about the little details that have brought them together.
I definitely use my skills as a radio presenter as a wedding host. When people listen to you on the radio, you don't have the benefit of the visual and only have the audio to entertain your audience. It means that you have to go that extra mile in building up a mental picture.
My previous life on the radio means I really focus on getting to know a couple in great detail, and use my skills with imagination and theatre of the mind to create a brilliant story and build a picture of them that I then reference on their wedding day. People might think they know a couple, but there's always lots of details they don’t know. I love bringing those details and stories to life.
I really enjoy creating entertaining wedding entrances with the perfect music for each member of the wedding party. The high energy entrances are a high point, yet I equally enjoy the more quieter, intimate moments where I go round the guests and talk to them on a personal level, reassuring them and building a sense of trust and rapport.
I'll ask questions and try and find out the type of music they love, the eras they headed out clubbing and the moments on the hen or stag party I can reference. I use all the information the guests give me to build an even better picture and create the right playlist to make the evening party absolutely amazing.
One of the most valuable and powerful things I do as a host is reassure and coach on speeches. I have a wedding coming up where a father of the bride has been in touch with me about his speech and I've been helping him to make sure his nerves don't get in the way and the speech goes down as truly unforgettable. It gives me a huge sense of job satisfaction on the day to know I’ve really helped with little details.
Ryan and his wife Gill on their wedding day in 2014
You are married, what advice would you give your clients?
Myself and my wife, Gill, got married in 2014 at Gibbon Bridge and sadly, it was just before wedding hosting started to gain popularity in the UK. So my biggest regret is that we didn’t have a host!
Apart from the obvious advice I give to hire a wedding host, the other thing I always say to couples is to factor in some time for the two of you on your big day. Even if it’s just 20 minutes together, away from everyone, to take a moment and drink it all in. The day goes so very fast, like a blur, so don’t lose sight of the most important thing - your other half!
Also I do say to take time on your speech and speak from the heart. Don’t worry about emotions getting the better of you. I was quite shocked and surprised that I got emotional during mine. I wasn’t prepared for it! So don’t be scared to pause in your speech to have a moment and pull yourself together, rather than rattling through it. Don’t worry what people think, it’s what your partner thinks that matters most and it’s a moment they will remember forever.
Where can we find you when you're not DJing?
I'd love to tell you I have a wild and crazy lifestyle (the kind you might expect from a DJ!) but the truth is, I'm a family man.
During the weekdays, I'm dad to my two young sons, Jacob who is 3 and Theo who is 2. My wife works in finance full time so I'm very grateful to have a profession that allows me to spend valuable time with my boys.
I spend a lot of time immersed in music and my profession. I enjoy mixing even when I’m not gigging, and like to keep on top of new music that will keep my wedding or event dance floors busy and energetic.
I have to pinch myself sometimes because I knew I wanted to be a DJ from a young age and I have been living this life for a long time. It has never felt like ‘work’ at all. I absolutely love what I do and it’s not a job - it’s an honour.
To chat wedding hosting, corporate events or DJ requirements with Ryan, get in touch by calling 07980 824 268 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
See you soon.