Dj Malik Miko Thorne

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DJ | ARTIST INTERVIEW ///

I’m excited to share about the pure and unde­filed awe­some­ness of Malik Miko Thorne. I feel like he is one of San Luis Obis­pos best kept secret. He is a tall skinny curly-haired char­ac­ter who is often seen rid­ing his bicy­cle down­town or sell­ing music at Boo Boo Records. Most every­one who has lived in San Luis knows or has seen Malik. He is kind, unas­sum­ing and soft spo­ken. He is also an amaz­ing wed­ding DJ. I have worked quite a few wed­dings with him and have been impressed with his orga­nized and calm demeanor and more impor­tantly his wealth of musi­cal knowl­edge. If you look­ing for a DJ who flies under the radar to deliver a sound­track that will set the per­fect tone for your wed­ding, than you have to have Malik!

 Email Malik

How did you get started spin­ning tunes?
If you are a fan of music you just inevitably fall into it I think. I was the one at col­lege par­ties who would bring all of my own CDs and I would change the CD player every 2–3 songs. As a kid I would make my own mixed tapes. –Like hold­ing up a portable tape recorder to the tele­vi­sion. I would make mixed tapes from solid Gold, Amer­i­can Band, Soul Train. I’ve been musi­cal since like 2nd or 3rd grade. It wasn’t that big of a leap. In ret­ro­spect it was a nat­ural pro­gres­sion.

How did you get to where you are now; DJing wed­dings and work­ing at Boo Boo Records?
While I went to school at Poly I fell into work­ing at their radio sta­tion, KCPR, met all of these great peo­ple, and was able to dive bomb into music of all sorts. From Indie Rock to Reg­gae to Metal. They have such eclec­tic taste there and you meet these peo­ple that you nor­mally wouldn’t asso­ciate with. I fell into that and got my start in radio and then even­tu­ally got a job at Boo Boos. Its weird because I could do some­thing else that’s more career minded. I’ve got friends with kids and mort­gages who are work­ing jobs that they don’t love. I feel for­tu­nate that I get to just do what I really love.

When did you first DJ a wed­ding?
A friend asked me to DJ his wed­ding. At the time I had turnta­bles; I was doing lit­tle house par­ties and Pub­lic Radio. So, I did the wed­ding for free and was able to get my feet wet. I started see­ing things that worked out and things that didn’t. I knew every bod­ies taste ahead of time and It was a blast! Once I did one or two; guests started approach­ing me and ask­ing me to do their weddings.

How long have you been doing wed­dings?
I would say 7 years off and on. When I first started I wasn’t doing that many. It began to snow­ball and now I do about a dozen a year. Its nice because I get to meet a lot of great peo­ple.

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Do you adver­tise at all?
Im hor­ri­ble at the mar­ket­ing aspect. I love music. Put me behind a DJ set and let me do my thing. The busi­ness side is the part I am still learn­ing. I recently pur­chased some new soft­ware and a lap­top which helps out hav­ing more music on the day of. If some­one walks up and wants the Beach Boys I have it, where as before if I didn’t have it in the crates of records I brought I would have to sim­ply apol­o­gize. But now I have a sur­plus of music. That’s why I ask lots of ques­tions before I do a gig so I know what to bring.

How has work­ing at Boo Boos helped as a resource to being a wed­ding DJ?
I talk music. I can under­stand music. I hear more things. I inter­act with cus­tomers. I see what peo­ple are lis­ten­ing to. All those small threads weave together at a wed­ding help­ing me to be able to pull some­thing out of nowhere because I real­ize that it will work per­fectly. Its just about being around what I love.

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How do you get your busi­ness then?
Mostly word of mouth. If I do a DJ gig those who like what they hear find out about me.

So how does your inter­view process work with your clients? How do you fig­ure out what their style is?
I just ask as many ques­tions as I can. Not every­one knows what they want. Some cou­ples have out­lines for the whole day, oth­ers do not. So I bring up every­thing, do they want a money dance? Really, I talk about the day –the amount of time, do they want the cer­e­mony miked, what type of music do they want for din­ner? I come with expe­ri­ence. I know what I like to hear so I can sug­gest music. But I want to see what my clients have to offer. Some peo­ple are sharp on their music while other peo­ple know what they like to hear, but have trou­ble putting it into words.

So you help them fig­ure out how to make the sound­track to their wed­ding basi­cally?
I would like to thing so! I make peo­ple tell me exactly what they want to hear. I stay away from gen­res. Pop­u­lar doesn’t work. Old school doesn’t work. I want them to say, I want Frank Sina­tra, this song. I want Michael Jack­son, this song. Because once they say that, I can imme­di­ately start think­ing of 3 or 4 songs that go around that song. Once I do that I have a lit­tle set of music that can be a good 30 minute set; which is a good amount of time. So If the cou­ple gives me a few more songs, I can start build­ing lit­tle cones, I start see­ing pat­terns. I can build a whole set.

Like math almost?
It kinda is like math. I was really good at math at one time.

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Do you do any mix­ing or scratch­ing dur­ing a recep­tion?
For wed­dings I think that scratch­ing takes away from the dance floor. It’s a per­cus­sive noise. Most peo­ple just want to hear the song. I can mix in and out of songs. If Im doing a house party or a DJ set down­town where its what I want to play the mix­ing is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. I can do sets ahead of time, its more dance music, I play a steady beats per minute that’s pretty high. Wed­dings you shift so wildly between play­ing Pop­u­lar music to Motown and jump­ing fast into 80s music, that I just put every­thing together as appro­pri­ately as I can. I do arcs and curves. I go from a slow song to a lit­tle bit faster song. I build more on musi­cal tem­pos so that it all fits together really nicely.

What would you say your style is?
I try to stay away from songs that are really pop­u­lar. There is so much music out there that I try to think out­side of the box. For din­ner music I try to play Brazil­ian music or Afro music or Jazz; some­thing that’s upbeat. Peo­ple always think mel­low is good for din­ner music. But when peo­ple are sit­ting down for din­ner talk­ing they are not really focused on the music so all they can really feel is the vibe or tempo. If I keep the vibe bub­bly and upbeat they feel bub­bly and cheer­ful. Dance music is the hard­est thing. I have to ask as many ques­tions as pos­si­ble. I love Old Soul, Funk, Motown, and 80s music. I bring an arse­nal out of songs that I think always work. Rarely have cer­tain songs ever failed me. But I want to know what they want to hear.

Once I booked a wed­ding where early on I didn’t meet with the bride. The groom knew me and said, I love you –do your thing! Day of the wed­ding comes, the bride is Per­sian. Her fam­ily wanted Per­sian music. I never talked to the bride, so I didn’t know. They luck­ily brought Per­sian music so I put it on for them. Instan­ta­neously they got up, they danced around and brought every­body into the mix. Les­son learned. I have to find out more about the peo­ple who are com­ing, more about the fam­ily members.

I had another wed­ding where the cou­ple told me they had an aunt who was really picky and bossy. Day of the wed­ding I’m play­ing Frank Sina­tra and this woman comes up and says I hate this song, what are you play­ing, can you change it? I was like, It’s Frank Sina­tra. I never thought any­one wouldn’t like Sina­tra! So I fig­ured this was the aunt. She asked what else I was going to play that night. I told her slyly, I don’t know, maybe some Rolling Stones? She was like, Really?! Rolling Stones? I love the Rolling Stones! A few songs later I played and she got up to the dance floor. She was happy! Its those small tid-bits of infor­ma­tion that I try to pull from people.

What kind of Per­son­al­ity do you bring to the wed­ding day?
I’m not Mr. Enter­tain­ment. I never try to be. I always hear about peo­ple com­plain­ing about wed­ding DJs that talk the whole time. I’m there to do the music. I’m not there to talk to the audi­ence. The music is there to enter­tain. That’s what I know the best. I’m pretty reserved in that aspect. I just try to stay calm through the day and take my time so that peo­ple feel that the music was flawless.

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Email Malik

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