The method to music

At 5:14 p.m., DJ Automatic slips headphones over his ears and begins to scratch.

“Grove St. Party” by Waka Flocka Flame becomes the soundtrack as Langston Galloway on one end of the court and Nico Mannion on the other end warm up nearly three hours before the Suns matchup against the Golden State Warriors on January 28th. From a turntable in section 111, DJ Automatic guides the transition to Drake’s “Back to Back”. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys later slide into “Empire State of Mind” in Jennifer Lopez’s “Get Right”.

At the start of the 2020-21 Suns season, DJ Automatic and DJ Q were responsible for creating a home advantage in a largely empty Phoenix Suns Arena. They motivate players with personalized playlists and capitalize on the unique moments and flow of each game by dropping the appropriate complementary jam.

Now added to their mission: to entertain the limited number of fans who have been welcomed back to the remodeled arena this week.

“I’m looking forward to this tennis match – to give them energy and then feed on what they give us back,” said DJ Q. “The fans will always be a very important part of our work. We want our players to be motivated, but we want the extra support we get from our home fans.

“We want their energy too, so we have to make sure we pay attention to what they love.”

The DJs will be led by Shawn Martinez, the Suns’ Senior Director of Live Presentation, who also has 33 years of experience as a Tribal Touch DJ. He conducted a citywide search to select DJ Automatic, which also spins for Power 98.3, and DJ Q.

From the southeast corner of the lower bowl, both DJs work on a Pioneer DJ controller for music and a 360 Instant Replay audio machine for beats and dribble-ups. The music carries and bass pounds thanks to a newly improved sound system. Fans can expect to hear a mix of radio-friendly Top 40, hip-hop, rock, and “party jam” that doesn’t feel like the traditional repetitive stadium music.

“When the mood in the room is right, everything else feels right,” said Martinez.

The Sun’s first 11 home games (including the preseason) provided DJ Automatic and DJ Q with an ideal training ground to get used to the cadence of an NBA game. And their music choices were designed primarily for the players.

Many submitted a playlist of songs or artists to help them bond mentally during their individual pregame work on the court. Jae Crowder wants to hear Lil Wayne and Gunna. Galloway’s preferences are 2Chainz and NBA YoungBoy.

Devin Booker’s long list includes Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Future, Lil Baby, and Drake. Because of this, Booker’s warm-up mix prior to Sunday’s win against the Celtics was Jay-Z’s “Takeover” and “Public Service Announcement” and Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares,” while several songs with Drake before the win on Jan. January for Booker played over Golden State. The Suns all-star also received a personal nod when Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” – the song with the reference to “Shots I Made, Wet As I Am Book” on Booker – played when the Suns played before the Warriors game warmed up.

DJ Automatic has gotten insights into players who focus on what they spin what they see as the ultimate compliment.

“It’s more satisfying than having a whole group of girls on the dance floor – by far,” he said with a laugh. “When you see Chris Paul get what you play it feels good, I’m not going to lie.”

Then the DJs have to react immediately to a variety of game situations. What to play when the suns set a point two minutes before the end (Diddy’s instrumental “Come With Me”) is vastly different from what to play when Phoenix leads at 20 (Fat Man Scoops “Be Faithful “) Or while the referees are reviewing a challenged foul call (Daft Punks” Da Funk “). DJ Automatic and DJ Q try to get three steps ahead and think about every possible scenario that could develop.

Some examples: Between the first and second quarters of the Warriors game with the Suns (36-29), Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine” played. When the Suns and Clippers got into a brief argument during a game in early January, the crew learned they needed to play calm music that wouldn’t incite anyone. Between the first and second extension of a competition against the Nuggets on January 23, “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar was the song of choice. When the Healthcare Heroes were honored as the first Suns fans of the 2020-21 season during a Sunday break, Rachel Patten’s “Stand By You” was the soundtrack to rousing applause.

“It’s not like DJing in the club,” said DJ Automatic. “It’s not that you can stop and sip your drink and talk to the guy who’s asking you a question. You don’t have time for that. Your focus is 100 percent on the game.

“The only time you can possibly take your hands off and take a breath is when someone takes a free throw.”

Of course, more repetitions made both DJs feel more comfortable and confident. DJ Q praised the constant, detailed communication Martinez provides through the headset throughout the game and compared it to a chief surgeon who leads the rest of his team.

They all received confirmation that they were on the right track after an early competition when Sun’s general manager James Jones, a former player, came to the goalscorer’s table to dap Martinez as he walked off .

“These guys make an impression,” said Martinez. “(The players) like what they hear when they warm up and they know it’s different. You can feel it. And we want to keep doing that. Just keep sliding on the envelope so they know we are there for them. ”

As the buzzer rang to end the Sun’s 114-93 win over Golden State, Jay Rocks rang “Win” through the building. That eventually moved on to Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry,” which faded when Paul walked off the pitch after a live TNT interview.

These types of tracks will now be the soundtrack for fans leaving the arena after a Suns win.

“What I always tell people is that it really is a production,” said DJ Automatic. “I did theater. I did things with Disney. This is real production and entertainment. ”

DJ Q added, “It’s a journey. I consider myself a pilot when I play. You start on the ground, you increase the speed and we will reach this cruising altitude so that you can safely loosen your seat belt. ”

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