The pandemic has certainly exercised our creative juices in order to find new ways to make a living. We also find ourselves settling on new daily routines. It has been rough to say the least, but even during the time of the pandemic we still manage to get a semblance of enjoyment.
Enter Jeff Mabi, co-owner of X-Fade Entertainment, a mobile DJ Business. Apart from being a DJ, Jeff also works full-time in hotel management which was also severely impacted by COVID. Reduced to only 2 days per week on his hotel job, and finding himself in the middle of numerous DJ gigs cancellation, Jeff had to creatively find a way to bring music and entertainment back to life even during the pandemic.
The Beginning of DFH
Noticing that a lot of DJs were also harshly affected by the pandemic, a good bunch of them started to stream online when the lockdown began and Jeff found himself hopping from one stream to another in order to support other DJs of the community. “A few of them were streaming simultaneously, so I found myself jumping back and forth between streams,” he says. Thus the idea of “Dance From Home: Digital DJ Festival” began. Taking inspiration from music festivals, Jeff wanted to organize DJs on a schedule to stream a “virtual festival” to those quarantined at home. The first stream was aired last March 25, 2020 with a 17 DJ lineup who were based in Chicago, St. Louis, LA, and Las Vegas. “It instantly became a hit and started growing quickly with other DJs from around the U.S. and eventually the world. For over 1 year, we streamed 73 weekly episodes on Twitch and grew into a global community of DJs, variety streamers, and supporters. DFH has expanded,” he shares.
The Filipino Connection
Surprisingly, many of the DJs in the DFH community are Filipino DJs based in Chicago that Jeff has connected with throughout the years. “I’ve been acquainted with several of them by working in the industry, so they were among the first DJs I contacted to join DFH.” he explains. How the network grew is that these Filipino DJs would recommend DJs in their network to join their group, which happen to be of Filipino descent as well, thus creating a sort of “organic movement” for the DJ community.
DFH became a platform where Filipino DJs are able to connect with one another on a personal level and rehash old friendships/relationships and even make new ones. With the streams, these DJs are able to connect behind the scenes through the chatrooms and by extension through the group’s Discord channel. “I think we’ve always respected one another as DJs. Having the online streaming platform allowed us to actually watch and support each other’s performances, helping cast the spotlight and gain more respect for one another,” Jeff quips.
Musical Start and Inspiration
Growing up with parents who had a deep appreciation for music and dancing, Jeff was surrounded by melody. With parents who enjoyed hosting parties and a father who loves to curate the music for these gatherings in order to heighten the vibe of the occasion, it is not hard to see how and why Jeff entered DJing. He was fascinated by the art of how DJs are able to move the audience. He first learned to DJ in 2001, after graduating from junior high school. “I had saved enough money to buy my first set of Technics 1200’s turntables.” When asked about where he draws his musical inspiration and influences from, Jeff shares that he listened to a lot of B96 Mixmasters and would be drawn to House and Euro mixes. He added that he also drew inspiration from Aris Topacio who was one of Chicago’s most prominent Filipino DJs after attending some Filipino organization events with his parents. Apart from that, Jeff credits his brother Mike who has been a big musical influence throughout his life. His brother played a big role in his DJ career as he guided him and gave him “opportunities to spin”.
Jeff shares that his other musical inspirations were Inphinity, Billy the Kidd, Mixin Marc, DJ Markski, Bad Boy Bill, Julian Jumpin Perez, Bobby D and DJ Flipside.
Lessons and End Goals
Jeff hopes to continue making memorable moments through X-Fade Entertainment but apart from that, he sees big things for DFH stating that “it could very well be my unexpected end goal, or the beginning of something bigger. I’ve always felt I was meant to do something significant on a larger scale and it seems like DFH was one of those things. It became so much more influential than I imagined, and it’s still growing.” And given what it has already accomplished in a year, we have no doubt that it’ll grow into something even bigger than what they could ever imagine.
With how accessible things are nowadays through new technologies and with new knowledge being shared over the internet on a daily basis, becoming a DJ seems easier than ever before. Jeff advises that while it is great to teach yourself, there is nothing better than to reach out to other seasoned DJs who could give you the advice as they draw it out from their actual experiences. He excitedly shares, “I encourage new DJs to reach out to veteran DJs with different experiences to get a wider perspective on the industry and the many directions you can go as a DJ. DFH DJs would be a good start! Like any industry, networking is key to more opportunities!” And we couldn’t agree more.