A Decade of Events. But How Did We Get Here?

This picture is literally the start of it all. This was a selfie I took in Bellingham when me and some of my college friends drove up to buy my first set of speakers. I used to wear my headphones everywhere when I was just starting out. I thought it was a fashion statement or something. November 17th 2013. Wow. Literally 10 years ago today. I count this as the first day of Orion Ent because buying speakers took my DJing out of frat basements and into the private event space. I did not take on the name Orion as my performance moniker for several years. I went by DJ Mysfit – cue the jokes from my JDS friends… but this was the day that my business plan went into action and Orion Ent was born. The name Orion comes from my wanting to work as hard as my parents. When I would get done with DJing at night, I would look up in the night sky and see the constellation Orion, my Dad was big into astronomy and growing up whenever he saw it he would say “look there’s Orion”, so it reminded me of them. We were also shooting for the stars, so it fit.

Shoutout to Debbie and Katheryn for being the first people crazy enough to let us DJ their wedding. They now have two beautiful children. One of the craziest things is getting to watch our couples lives and families change over the years. This wedding was so much fun and I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember being SO nervous for their ceremony – just thinking, whatever you do don’t mess this up. Thanks for giving us a shot! 

Also I have to shout out Aaron Carstensen pictured with me in the photo above. We started our music journeys together in many ways, we actually met in choir class in high school. Aaron was producing music and putting it up on soundcloud way before most people I know. He did this throughout high school and is so incredibly talented. While we started Orion together, our musical journeys diverged and Aaron focused on music production while I went all in on DJing. We are still great friends to this day. Love you Urn. <3

Fast forwarding to my final year of college. This was one of the first events where I hired someone else to DJ under the Orion Brand. That table cloth was actually made by Michelle Weinberg, the mother of my first ever DJ student: Zach Weinberg. Zach went on to pursue a career in music production and now works AV for concerts and sporting events at Climate Pledge Arena. The DJ in this photo is a dear friend named Julian Dizon. He is now an EMT, but we used to DJ together in college. In fact he was my first DJ friend ever. We used to hangout and just mix back to back, he taught me to scratch really. Some of my favorite parties back in the day were playing side by side. Now most DJ’s playing b2b are using the same DJ equipment but this man taught me to mix by ear and we would scream tempos across the DJ booth and mix off of each other. I would later implement this with many of my students as I believed this to be one of the best ways to learn how to DJ.

Our first Photo Booth event 🙂 

It was my 22nd birthday and I had dressed as Billy Joe Armstrong. Mostly because I needed an excuse to wear eyeliner. We set up the Photo Booth in the dining room, and the dancefloor in the living room. One of my favorite birthdays ever. These were my roommates Sam, Hannah, Jessie and Julia :). Love them.

This was the Day Orion Entertainment really became a business. I remember being so proud of this set up. I had just decided I was going to pursue DJing full time and it was time to set up our official headquarters. In the living room of my college house. I just remember feeling like it was the start of the next chapter. I think I’d heard no from two consecutive job interviews and I thought to myself, well I’d hire me.

This picture is pretty special. All the kids from camp Solomon Schechter who’s bar/bat mitzvahs I had done. Camp was a big part of my early success as a DJ and a massive part of my life growing up. I knew that if I wanted to go full time that bar and bat mitzvahs were a great way to build a client base. I had seen other DJs like BenZaCob become really successful this way. They threw some of the best parties I had ever been to pre college. Ifykyk. Pretty sure all of them went to camp at some point too. Anyway, camp is a really special place to me, and we still do the camp dances to this day. I love still being connected to a place that truly feels like home. My first ever bar mitzvah that I DJd was for one of my campers and it was at camp, Sam Raskind who would become head staff later on, played a big role in bringing us back to camp years later.

Shoutout to Jordan Milber who I believe is the first DJ I trained under the Orion name and would later book for events. He interned for me and got us involved with the Foster School of Business. He helped create an intern program with the Foster school and we continue to support husky students through participation with Foster School programs. Jordan also helped me create the first ever Orion Takeover – which has provided opportunities for our DJs to perform in nightlife settings ever since. I will never forget walking down the stairs into the Underground Seattle, and seeing the Orion logo on the LED paneling and the room full of people dancing and having fun. That was a dream come true. 

This photo is also pretty cool because it’s the first open house we were ever asked to be a part of. Big thank you and shoutout to Within Sodo who have always been one of our favorite vendor partners to work with throughout the years. They were also the first venue in Seattle to put Orion Entertainment on their preferred vendors list. So again A BIG THANK YOU to our friends and Within Sodo for believing in us since the early days! 

This video was taken on my first ever trip to Las Vegas, for the Mobile Beat DJ conference. The experience was truly life changing and opened my eyes to the wider world of professional DJing. I went with Michael Mahler, the founder of Vibo and at the time, I was the only Vibo user in the United States. Michael had flown all the way from Tel Aviv to meet with me in Seattle to pitch the product. I was coincidentally working on something similar at the time for my start up entrepreneurship class at the UW, but he was miles ahead. I owe this connection to my friend Ariel, who was working at an incubator at the time in Tel Aviv, and told Michael that her friend from the US was a DJ, and that he should reach out! We hit it off, and now Vibo is an integral part of our operation. We could not operate our business without it, and now the Vibo DJ community has expanded nationwide, and it is considered the premier tool for professional event DJs to coordinate music and timelines for their clients’ events. Being the first in the industry to integrate with platforms like Spotify, and include groundbreaking features like playlist exportation (allowing DJs to scan their hard drive for songs that clients requested and automatically create playlists saving us hours of time in prep). I owe so much to Michael and Vibo for our success, and I am so grateful for the Vibo DJ community. Thanks Ariel 🙂 

I don’t think the story of Orion can be told without mentioning the Illustrious Sam Marcus, DJ BPN of BPN Events. Sam had more experience as a DJ than I did, and had spent many years performing on the east coast with her mentor Jon. Sam brought an east coast flair to Orion’s aesthetic, and taught me a lot about the industry. I remember she came to the interview wearing a full suit, and I just thought now that is a pro. Sam is probably one of the hardest working DJs in the country. Sam and I became good friends, and I even got to work an event for her company back in Jersey to see what east coast events were all about. This photo is of us DJing a drag boat cruise in Seattle, when I also worked part time as a brand ambassador for Corona (who was throwing the event).

This photo looks like a typical event picture, but there is quite the story behind this one. This just so happens to be the event that I had asked a photographer friend of mine to come out and take pictures of our new set up for the website. He ended up getting sick and not being able to make it. At the time, I had been recently ghosted by a cute tinder boy who happened to be a photographer, and I was in a pinch. So I reached out to him and he agreed to come and take photos that night. I thought he would come, take pictures and leave, but let’s just say he stuck around for a while. That cute tinder boy, was of course, Austin, and these were the first of MANY events we would work together, and this night was when we reconnected and our relationship really began.

One of my all time favorites here. This is from Colette and Dan’s wedding in Kona Hawaii. Many of you who know me know my best friend Colette. She has been my hairstylist since I was 14, but getting to DJ her wedding in Hawaii brought us so incredibly close, and we have been thick as thieves ever since. Not only was the wedding one of my all time favorites, but it was the first and only wedding to date that I officiated. This was also one of my first big destination weddings but it taught me a lot about how to become a travel DJ. This day was so special, and full of love and joy. We were all blubbering messes during the ceremony, and it was just one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I’ll never forget when one of the bridesmaids screamed “It’s like he’s reaching into my soul and pulling out all of my favorite songs!”. Colette and I now co-host a podcast together called the coco show, and we have never been closer.

Being Named 20 on the rise by Honeybooks and the rising tide society is still one of the coolest honors we have ever received. Some of the wedding and event industries biggest names have been recognized this way and for me this was a hugely validating award and the first national recognition we ever received. I still can’t believe we were named on this list.

New Year’s at the Needle in 2020 was one of the coolest events I ever got to DJ for sure. What was even crazier was that about 3 months later, the world would change forever and none of us could have ever known. To this day, I believe I am the last DJ to have played this party as they have not held an in-person new year at the needle since then. Hopefully that changes and someday they have us back! I just remember feeling like “look mom, I made it”. But of course, the world had other plans for all of us. The Covid 19 pandemic was one of the most challenging and difficult periods of my life as I am sure it was for everyone. I am proud of how we managed to make it out of the other side of the pandemic stronger than ever and prepared for the new world of opportunities that I knew would arise after we were allowed to start working in-person events again.

We are going to basically skip the entire pandemic and skip straight to the happy ending… haha. This was the 2021 Emerald City Applause Awards, and we were honored to take home some hardware that night. We were named best virtual event entertainment for our virtual prom experience during the pandemic. This day feels like the start of the next chapter, when things started to really take a turn for the better. I feel as though the ECAA’s really put us on the map when it came to the greater seattle events community. The ECAAs are my favorite event of the year, and last year we were honored to host the event, and this year I am helping plan this and many other ILEA events as communications director for ILEA seattle. Also a big shout out to Erin and Olivia pictured here. Erin, I don’t know how I would have survived the pandemic without you. Erin and I met at the DJ Collective in Palm Springs and it is amazing to me just how much has changed since then. But I didn’t only meet Erin at DJC. Mike Bowman and I stayed at the same house during DJC and became fast friends, he and Erin worked for Orion later that wedding season and we all got super close. I’d like to think that Orion played a little role in their romance 😉 Erin and Mike are still Orion DJs today and can be booked for events in Seattle even though they are based in South Carolina. They are now engaged and have a beautiful baby boy named Bronx who is my Godson. All the things <3

This was a medieval themed destination wedding that Christian and I did on Orcas Island. I think it was one of the first weddings towards the end of the pandemic that we did. Christian and I had met before the pandemic, but when events went on hold I had no idea who from the previous iteration of the team would be around when the dust settled. Fortunately for us, Christian was one of them. We had so much fun on this trip and stayed in a really cool cottage overlooking the water. This was really the start of our friendship though. It's crazy to me just how much this kid has blown up since I met him. He is now one of the most requested DJs on our roster, and has been an absolute rockstar of an employee. I am so grateful to have him on the Orion team and to call him one of my best friends.

Fast forwarding a bit here, to my time at Supernova. Specifically the first Orion Takeover there. This night will go down as one of my all time favorite performances. Getting to share the stage with our team that night was something I will never forget. The night was electric and everyone did such an incredible job. The moment when Ms Monday Morning announced the Orion takeover on the microphone and everyone cheered lives in my head rent free. I made so many incredible friends through my time at Supernova and I am so grateful for that experience. This night felt like the culmination of so much of what we had been working for over the last 10 years. I am so proud of these artists and everything they have accomplished for themselves.

 

While I didn’t get to attend this event to receive this award, being named Best of Seattle Bride is probably the greatest honor we have received as a company to date. This was hugely validating and was all because of the votes that were cast by our clients, friends, family, followers and the events community. Thank you is simply not enough to everyone who voted and rooted for us.

Last but certainly not least has to be our performances at Bass Canyon Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater this past summer. Ever since I started DJing, playing the gorge was on my bucket list. To be able to do so with so many of the Orion DJs was completely surreal. Shout out to Zona, Oli, Dirty J, D33PSTATE, KURONEKO and Fraze. I have no idea what the future holds, but if the past is any indication then I am sure it’s going to be absolutely incredible.

 

There’s so many other people to thank, and moments that were so impactful along this journey, but I know I have already gone on for way too long. Mom and Dad, thanks for always believing in me, or at least pretending to for a while… I certainly could never have done this without your support.

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Orion Entertainment
Orion Entertainment

Orion Entertainment is the premiere wedding and event DJ and entertainment company in Seattle.