Aaron Kroetsch of SoundFONIX Entertainment and Matthew Campbell of My Wedding Songs sit down and chat about Canadian weddings.
- Memorable Wedding Moments
- About Aaron Kroetsch and SoundFONIX Entertainment
- Format of Candian Weddings
- Partying Until Late
- Song Requests
- Canadian Wedding Specific Songs
- Wedding Music Genres
- Popular Country Music
- First Dance Songs
- Song List Updating
- Building Playlists
- Grand Entrance & Background Songs
- Music by Providence
- Slow Songs
- Noise Ordinances
- Contact Aaron Kroetsch of SoundFONIX Entertainment
Welcome everybody to the wedding songs podcast. I am Matt Campbell. And today we’re going to be talking about Canadian weddings our guest star today is Aaron Kroetsch all the way from Alberta, Canada, Edmonton, to be exact, and his company SOUNDfonix Entertainment. Welcome to the show, Aaron. Hey, thanks for having me.
Thanks for being on the show. I’m going to start off with our first question. Like we always do. Can you tell us a little bit about a memorable wedding that you’ve performed at?
Memorable Wedding Moments
There’s a lot I tend to remember little bits and pieces from every wedding as I’m sure most DJs do but I have some nightmare memorable things and some really good memorable things. The really good memorable things, tend to be more abstract, just like that feeling that you get when you just, hit the song right on the nose and you get a reaction from the dance floor.
So those are more abstract. but obviously. There are some nightmare ones and I wrote myself some notes. So I’m going to glance down my notes. Things that are beyond your control that just go absolutely haywire. They always involve too much booze – almost always.
A couple of times this year, the grooms got exceptionally drunk. One of them showed up to the reception wasted. And the other one, he and his bride disappeared at about 830. I told him that it was time to do the first dance and he said, no, no, it’s too late.
I said, actually, it’s right on time. And he goes, No, no, it’s too late. It’s fine. We’re not going to do that. Then I didn’t see them again until 1130 when their friends literally carried them out of the venue. They were so drunk. They couldn’t even walk. On the opposite side of the spectrum for bad parties.
I was in the middle of nowhere, several guests had RVs on-site, and I noticed early on almost right after speeches, people started pulling out cribbage boards. You did not come here to party. You came here to play cards.
It’s funny that booze is still a downer. Because I hear trends of a lot of the non-alcoholic drinks becoming more and more popular. And, hopefully, that catches on more for the wedding reception. That way, at least the wedding couples can be more responsible.
Yeah. Well, I think that that particular couple that I’d mentioned who disappeared, had the intention of doing that. Whether they had mocktails or cocktails. They probably would still have chosen cocktails, which is unfortunate because why would you do that to your own wedding? It doesn’t make any sense to me why someone would do that.
Especially when you’re spending the amount of money that could be a down payment on a house. Exactly. Yeah. 100%. Let’s get out of that bad note. Do you have a memorable, good wedding that you could talk about? Like I said, those memories are more abstract because it’s just like, you just hit the nail on the head and you go, man, I really love what I do. When you have a good night you just know that you’re in the groove and you’re there with the crowd.
I don’t have a specific story because it is more of a feeling. I love that feeling that everybody’s having a great time and you’re playing the right music. There’s no better feeling as an entertainer than that feeling for sure.
Yeah. And to try to articulate that into this podcast is difficult because it’s just like goosebumps. Talking about goosebumps and DJing then, can you tell everybody a little bit about you and your company?
About Aaron Kroetsch and SoundFONIX Entertainment
I started SOUNDfonix in 2007 when my son was born. I had been working for another company, which went out of business, or the guy moved, I can’t remember which one, I think he moved, so he closed up shop.
And I said, well, I guess I’ll just start my own DJ company. So then I started doing it pretty casually on the side because at the time I had a day job. Then I kept doing it casually for let me see here. 12 years. Then in 2019, I went full-time. So you’ve been doing it quite a while then full time.
That’s awesome. Yeah. Congrats. Yeah. Well. I don’t know if you want to count two and a half years where everything was shut down, but yeah, I’ve been doing it full-time for a while.
Let’s get into Canadian weddings a little bit. Sure, you bet. Have you worked at weddings in both Canada and the United States?
No, no, just, just in Canada. although I have had guests from the United States come up for our weddings. Generally, I get good feedback from them. They can’t believe how late weddings go here sometimes. Let’s go into that then. What’s the typical format of a wedding reception in your area?
Format of Candian Weddings
We start with cocktails at five, and then, the bridal party usually shows up about six o’clock, gets seated at the table brings the bridal party in as a group, we say, here’s a bridal party, and they come in, we play a song, and then we bring in the bride and groom, and then once everyone is seated at the head table, then we introduce them individually, as opposed to what I’ve seen online, and particularly, I think out east, they introduce them one at a time as they come in.
We wait till everyone’s seated. Dinner is usually 6:30 to 7. Then we do their first dances and then the dancing starts anywhere between 8:30, quarter to nine. Then we party until one in the morning. So the venues are okay with being open that late?
Partying Until Late
Yeah, it’s pretty well standard. I’ve had conversations with venues about that because I’m of the feeling that nothing good happens after midnight. Like after midnight, you’re really not missing anything. But there are some venues here that insist on being open till one or even later. One of the venues I was talking to, told me that their being open till three is one of their key selling points.
I thought, well, that’s ridiculous. Speaking of that I come from Montana where the cutoff time to drink is two o’clock Is there no cutoff time then to drink? No cutoff time is two o’clock for sales you can sell until two and then consume until three. being in Vegas. Yeah, there’s no cutoff times.
How do you handle song requests from couples and guests? I take requests with discretion if we’re in the middle of a dance set and someone comes up and asks for Johnny Cash, for example, you go, yeah, okay, well, I’ll think about it, but it won’t be right now. So there is some discretion and I always tell my couples that I do handle requests with discretion.
If someone comes up and requests… Macarena. You’re like, maybe, maybe not. but I mean, I, we have the same issue here that you guys have down there, with, people coming up and going, oh, it’s the bride’s favorite song. So, I always have my couples, fill out must plays and, and do not plays.
And I tell them, put as many of your favorite songs in the must plays or put them in the play of possibles. Because people will come up and say, Oh, it’s the bride’s favorite song. Early in my career, of course, I would fall for it. I know I would play the song and they’d be like, Why are you playing this song?
You know, and that just makes me look stupid. I handle requests with discretion. I take requests the night of but the bride and groom do have quite a bit of opportunity to collaborate with their requests. I give them five categories that they can work with. The must plays play of possibles, dedications, play only if requested and do not plays. I love how you do that. Break that into categories because it’s so much more than just do not plays, especially if there’s a special song between them and a friend, the dedications, or their person of honor.
I think that that’s really important to have that on there otherwise, you may miss it. And what I find with the dedications is that often they will say, you know what this song was my parent’s wedding song 30-odd years ago. Usually, it’s a really good song that might get missed because it’s 30-plus years old.
You don’t necessarily have to acknowledge it over the mic, but it’s nice to play it. And then what I find is the bride’s parents will come over and go, thank you. How did you know? So it’s adding that special moment for sure. Yeah. Speaking of music, let’s talk about music. Sure.
Canadian Wedding Specific Songs
Be being in Canada. Are there any special songs that you think are really popular just for Canadian guests? I don’t think that there’s anything that’s nationwide. It’s not like we’re sitting around listening to Celine Dion all the time, right? Shania Twain.
Shania Twain. There are some bands like we just talked about, some artists that are strongly Canadian. but it’s not like we make a big effort to play that. I think what we play is more in line with what anyone else plays. The best example that I could think of is not a Canadian thing.
It’s more of an Alberta, Saskatchewan thing. There are a couple of songs. I don’t know if you ever heard them. There’s Last Saskatchewan Pirate by Captain Tractor, and there is Home for Arrest by Spirit of the West. They have a very stompy, jiggy, I don’t want to use this term, but I will, a very Newfie feel.
Newfie is what we refer to as someone from Newfoundland. So they have that very, an oddly Celtic feel to it. They’re insanely popular here. They’re good songs. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the songs, but they are insanely popular. Even still I’m pretty careful about when I pull those out.
You don’t want to pull them out too early because you won’t get the reaction that you’re looking for. I was going to ask that later in the evening or when do you play it? Yeah. It’s later in the evening. Once I noticed that everyone was lubricated, safely.
Wedding Music Genres
What type of music would you say that your couples want to hear, pop punk? Or is it the 2010s? What type? Yeah, there is. Pop punk. I find the music is pretty diversified now. country is still relatively popular with a lot of people. Pop punk, yes. From the 2000s to the 2010s hip hop and pop. Pitbull is still big. He’s still fairly relevant, right?
He’s releasing new music every now and then. Yeah, it’s pretty all over the place. I still get requests from older couples for polkas. And I limit polkas to maybe one or two. The beer barrel polka. Beer barrel polka is the big one. Heel and Toe Polka is another one.
I did a Christmas party last night where someone requested, a Ukrainian waltz. Yeah, but I didn’t play Ukrainian waltz. It just didn’t fit with the rest of the crowd. Again, taking requests with discretion.
Popular Country Music
Speaking of country music, there’s a big difference between Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, to bro country. What are you finding is the most popular in your area? We already talked about Shania Twain. Shania Twain is still very popular. The ’90s country is very, very popular right now.
So you’re right, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Brooks and Dunn, and Tim McGraw, but at the same time people still love Luke Combs, and Luke Bryan. Who else?
Well, I can’t think of any other bro country artists, Florida, Georgia Line. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Jason Aldean. Yeah. Yeah. Jason Aldean. Not so much here. I haven’t noticed a lot of requests for him. What I have noticed recently is more requests for alternative country like Tyler Childers, but they are more alternative country. They’re more like the outlaw country from the seventies. Tyler Childers is unique among them where he’s not outlaw. He just kind of goes against the country grain. Kind of like, I would say, Chris Stapleton has his own unique voice. Yeah.
And Zack Brown. Zack Brown too. He’s got his own unique voice, his own way of carrying on. And I love that he’s done some collaborations. He’s done collaborations. I saw on TikTok he did a collaboration with a couple of the Beastie Boys. He did a song with Chris Cornell from Soundgarden.
Probably. seven or eight years ago now. So he’s a prolific country. I like it when country artists can explore beyond there, I shouldn’t say just country. I like it when artists can explore beyond their borders. I like it when, two artists that you don’t think really go together, collaborate on a song and it might be good.
It might be trash. But at least they’re making that effort to be artistic and not just do the same thing over and over again. I’m reminded of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. What an awesome collaboration it was. Yeah, perfect example. That’s exactly it. Their version of Lady and the Tramp. Lady and the Tramp is one that I still play during cocktails.
First Dance Songs
?Speaking of cocktails and moments of the wedding. What are the popular first dance songs that you’re seeing? I saw this question on your list, and I actually went through the last year and there was no correlation between any of the songs, so I couldn’t even say that one was more popular.
We were literally all over the board, from country songs to classics like Etta James. It was so, so all over the board, that it was difficult to pinpoint one popular song versus another. I think that’s exactly what you’re saying the correlation is there is no correlation between couples just pick what means to them instead of what’s popular right now.
Song List Updating
And I have on my website, something, similar to what you do with My Wedding Songs. I have a list of songs that people can use for reception songs and I have it broken up between reception songs and ceremony songs. I don’t go near as in-depth as you do, but I just kind of point people in that direction.
And then I say if there’s if there’s nothing on my list you can find. I do point them towards yours because yours is way more in-depth than mine is. I update mine every six, or seven months, but you’re constantly on there adding to your list, right? Yeah, that’s my main focus is to bring in the new songs to offer that a new source because I don’t see AI or ChatGPT doing that.
So that’s how I’m trying to set myself apart from that ChatGPT only has access to 2018 and older. Right. So, 2021. 2021, is that what it is? Even still, 2021 was three years ago now, almost three years ago. it doesn’t have that archive of data, whereas you do. You have that.
And I assume that you belong to some kind of a record pool that helps you keep up with those new songs, right? Not a record pool. There are certain sites that I go to look at, what’s popular and being streamed. Of course, the charts, Billboard, but also iTunes and other places.
Spotify has a lot of tools behind it. Yep. New Music Friday is one of their most popular song lists for sure. Yeah. I tried to listen to that one, but sometimes it’s like, holy crap. What is this? There’s a lot of skips. Yes. And, and I actually read an article recently where it talked about exactly that.
Is it really a good thing for artists to be on New Music Friday? Because there are so many skips and it hurts your rating if you’re getting skipped all the time. Yeah. And that’s exactly what the article talked about. It was interesting. Yeah, that would be interesting to read. Maybe send that my way. I’d like to read that, I think. Sure, absolutely.
Grand Entrance & Background Songs
So what songs are your favorites for the Grand Entrance to bring everybody in? That is one of the options I leave up to my bride and groom. I don’t choose any of their songs. They choose them. I have my favorites. That has been used. I’m a kid of the 90s. I’m 44 years old.
So, When it comes time for the grand entrance, I try to really tell people to pick something with some energy because that sets the tone. I did a wedding where they came in to Get Ready For This by 2 Unlimited and they had dance moves and everything. It was fantastic.
I loved it because it just set the bar up here. We managed to keep that energy up for most of the night, I don’t pick the songs for them. I like it when they can pick high-energy songs. That’s the only criterion. I totally agree. It sets the mood.
It’s kind of like the recessional you’re setting the mood for the reception. Absolutely. I treat everything before the reception, as setting the mood. Like cocktail music sets the mood, dinner music sets the mood, grand entrance song sets the mood, Everything prior to the party sets the tone for the party.
If you’re playing a lot of down-tempo songs during dinner, Well, guess what? People are going to be falling asleep in their soup. I tell this story quite often when I was at a wedding and it was all instrumental music. And it’s like, I was doing that in the nineties. Why are we still doing this today?
And then everybody left early. There was a time when I first started, I would play a lot of Frank Sinatra in Dean Martin, and not to say there’s anything wrong with that. but people got bored. Really quickly, because there was no variation in the music.
In my beginner’s head, I had been like, cocktail music is the Rat Pack. But now it’s, I take a more varied approach, and every wedding is kind of different. I kind of tailor it to what’s going on. There’ll be some weddings where I’ll play Michael Bublé. And that type of music, but only because I felt like it fit the theme, the feel for the night. And there’ll be some nights where I play more country for cocktail and dinner music. And, again, I let the bride and groom give me some kind of feedback on the planning forms and what type of music they want during the cocktail and dinner music.
Music by Providence
And I think that’s really important just to emphasize that depending on where you’re at in the country or in the world really affects what music you’re going to play. Going on about where in the world you are, things vary drastically from where you are in our Province. I’m in Edmonton, Edmonton is a capital city, and I do find that there’s more of an open format feel here, where I can do hip hop, I can do pop, I can do dance music, I can throw in some light EDM, some mainstream EDM, and I can also play some country.
But if I’m out in the middle of nowhere, we have 95 percent of our province is below population. So if I’m in the middle of nowhere in some little town, I know that Flo Rida is not going to go over well. You keep it country when you’re in those. And you even change the style with which you play.
Normally I’ll do quick mixes a little bit, not like Nick Spinelli, but I’ll do verse chorus. And maybe a bridge and then I’m out. But if I’m in the middle of nowhere, it’s start a song, finish a song, start a song, finish a song, because that’s what they want. They want to hear all of Garth Brooks all the way through because they know the song.
So there’s less freedom to be creative because that’s that’s not the type of DJ that they’re looking for. I totally agree because I come from Montana as I said, and if you’re in the smaller towns you really have to know your crowd and what they’re into the organizers or the couple will definitely steer you in the right direction, but you, you have to know because you could really ruin the event by quick mixing in a crowd.
That’s really into the hardcore country music. And we’re not even talking nineties. We’re talking seventies. Exactly. I had a wedding I don’t know how well you know, Alberta, but I was up in a place called High Prairie, which is about four and a half hours north of Edmonton.
I had a good rapport with the father. He came up, and he asked for it. Luke Combs did Fast Car, and he came up and requested it. We were kind of joking around, he and I, all night long. So I put on the VEVO, dance remix of Fast Car, and he comes up like 10 seconds and he goes, Don’t be a smart ass. I said, yeah, yeah, I know. I was just playing with you. That’s great. Yeah.
Speaking of music again, what about slow songs? What’s your philosophy on slow songs? In my head, I try to limit it to one to two slow songs in the evening. That being said, if nothing else is working, And all that gets them on the dance floor is slow songs. I have played, three to four slow songs back to back.
Because I like to see people on the dance floor. That’s why I feel my job is there. That’s what I’m here to do, is to get people on the dance floor and keep them on the dance floor. So if that means that I have to play three or four slow songs just to get them out there, I’ll do it. Do you have any favorite slow songs that you go to?
Do you know Deana Carter? You know Deana Carter, sure. I like to pull that one out because I find that it’s not as popular anymore as it once was. The dance. I like to pull that one out. if the mood is right, I’ll pull out like some classic Bryan Adams slow song like Heaven.
I’ve also pulled out Lady In Red. If I notice it, they’re older. Obviously, Elvis Presley gets a good reaction every time Can’t Help Falling In Love. I think my New Year’s couple has put that on their must-play list. So there are some favorites. I definitely have some go-to songs that I use for slow songs.
I think that’s a great tip to everybody listening that you don’t have to play the most popular. I love the idea of Strawberry Wine and Heaven from Bryan Adams because those are the songs when people are on the dance floor, they’re going to be like, Oh my gosh. Yeah. I forgot about this song. This song’s awesome.
Yeah. And I mean the cliche song, I think it’s a cliche song. I consider it a cliche song by the Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody. I’d be hard-pressed to pull that one out. That seems like such a gimme choice. But again, if it works, it works. Right. But then you’re not challenging yourself.
What are you going to be remembered as the DJ of playing Unchained Melody versus Heaven, Brian Adams who’s Canadian? Yeah. Another Canadian artist. You know, I saw Brian Adams in concert years and years ago and my wife and I, we were both born and raised in Canada, but we’re at this concert. We’re like, holy crap. I forgot he had this song. This is a bop and we had a great time at his concert. He’s got a lot of really, really great songs.
He did a song on MTV Unplugged that I love. Oh, Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman? Yes. I love that song. It’s a great slow song that you just forget. Yeah, that’s a good one. And it’s got that Spanish flamenco feel. I’m going to have to refresh that one.
There you go. Is there anything else you want to talk about Canadian weddings for people listening who haven’t experienced a Canadian wedding? You know,, the only feedback I get about the Canadian weddings, like I said earlier, is how late they go.
Most weddings go till one in the morning. that’s the only really different thing. I think that even varies in the United States. I know that some markets do go till one in the morning. I don’t know why it is.
It’s just a regional variation. I don’t think there’s anything about a Canadian wedding that people go to, you know, that’s really different.
I think it depends on the venue and the circumstances. You’re saying go really late. If you’re at a barn wedding, a lot of them have decibel levels. They’re in noise ordinances. It’s all the same here. We’re going through a time right now where there’s a lot of barn weddings.
People have neighbors have complained about the noise volume. So they put in noise ordinances. Some venues have even installed their own sound systems poorly. There’s one venue that has the speakers it’s a tent wedding, right? It’s not a barn, it’s a tent.
So they have speakers installed on the top and they point down at the ground. Well, that does no one any favors. And put a limiter on the volume. So you can crank your volume, but you’re going to be limited to whatever setting. And if you try to push it, you’re going to sound compressed.
You’re going to sound terrible. I’m actually writing an article fairly soon about decibel levels. And ordinances who has the right. So, yeah, it’s it’s quite interesting. Well, I’m a rule follower. Like, if a venue comes to me and says, let’s try to keep the decibel level to X. I will do my best to keep the volume down because there’s really no point in being an a-hole, and pushing the volume. Sure, it’s frustrating, yeah, it’s very frustrating. But there’s really no point in pushing that, and then having the venue go, you’re not welcome back anymore because you don’t follow our rules.
It’s important for wedding couples to know that and make that one of the questions when they book, because I know, let’s say they set it at whatever it is, 85 decibels, 90, 90 decibels. And then you go to a chart and it says, well, average conversation in a group is 90 decibels or whatever it is. And okay.
So you’re at the same level. People aren’t going to hear the music. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I have a Christmas party on the 15th. and the venue gave me an arbitrary, it’s such an arbitrary number. Keep the decibels at 92.5. You just picked a random number.
Right. And it’s an indoor, it’s its own building. It’s not really near anything else. The doors are closed. There should be no need for it. But again, that being said, you’re indoors in a smaller room, so keeping things at 90 decibels is not terribly difficult, I don’t think. I don’t anticipate that being a huge hassle.
I’ve had venues tell me 80 decibels. And then they’re measuring at my speaker. Well, you’re right in front of your speaker, it’s measuring. 97. Well, yeah, because you’re right in front of my speaker. Go to the back of the room, go outside, and measure it. You’ll see that it’s probably the traffic louder, the crickets louder.
So important because if the police were to come, then they’re going to be looking at if somebody’s complaining. Well, it’s what’s the decibels exactly what you’re saying outside. And that’s a problem with the outdoor venues, the barns and the, the tents, and there’s a lot of tent venues here. They’re opening up almost as fast as they’re closing.
Contact Aaron Kroetsch of SoundFONIX Entertainment
To round it out, can you tell people where they can find you Aaron, and how they can contact you? I can be reached in lots of ways. I’m pretty easy to get ahold of. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My company socials on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are all @soundfonix, and it’s S O U N D F O N I X.
If you know my phone number, you can always text me a Facebook message too. So I’m pretty easy to get ahold of. That’s what I tell my couples. I’m like, if you need to get ahold of me, just whatever’s easiest for you. Awesome. Well, thanks for being on the show.
Stay tuned for our next episode with another wedding professional. Thanks for listening and have a great day.?