Get the Party Started with Jeff Mechali of J Stixx Live Entertainment
The entertainment industry in the city of Toronto is thriving. What with so many festivals, corporations, and well, people, there’s constant demand for unique and entertaining talent. The classics are great, but what if you’re looking for new, interesting and unusual acts to turn an everyday event into an epic and memorable occasion?
Jeff Mechali is an entertainer who’s hit on a truly unique style for getting the party fired up. His combination of live drumming and pulsating DJ sounds has revolutionized the party scene and his growing roster of unique talent promises to continue the trend of original event entertainment.
We interviewed Jeff and spoke about how he got inspired to bring his talents to the people, what goes in to making his company a success and what the future might hold for him and the business.
So tell us about your business. What is J Stixx?
I’m Jeff Mechali and under the stage name J Stixx, I’ve been bringing people to their feet at corporate and charity events, weddings, and mitzvah celebrations for over 15 years. I’ve built up a reputation in the entertainment industry, and I’ve come to be known as the drummer with the hat.
Through J Stixx Live Entertainment, we try to maintain an explosive sound, amazing entertaining skills, and dedication to excellence for all of our events, and the same can be said of all the live musicians we now represent. Our roster of artists has grown to include Toronto’s best musicians and entertainers including violinists, saxophone players, 3 – 7 piece bands, silk ribbonists, and illusionists just to name a few. We specialize in combining DJ with live entertainment to give your event the best of both worlds!
What made you choose this path? How did you start drumming?
I began my first experience as a drummer when I was 3 years old banging on my parents pots and pans. From there, everywhere I went I would find some way to create rhythm and entertain those around me. It was like the music just lived inside of me. I went on to play both percussion and the drum kit in high school where being a part of musicals and bands was all I wanted to do. I was always inspired by music and I soon realized that this was not something I could outgrow and go on to do something else. This was my destiny.
I started to work in clubs all over Toronto, and soon began to play all over, including South America and beyond. As I got older I realized how much energy drums and other live music adds to the amazing sounds of a DJ. This is where the concept of J Stixx came from. Giving my clients the best of both worlds so that they never have to choose between the original sounds of the singers and the live feel. Over the years I expanded to include other musicians and pioneered the concept of live musicians accompanying the beats of the DJ. I took for granted that this was something that just came to me but I was surprised that not all musicians could do what I do . Years of searching, teaching, and mentoring saxophone players, violinists, electric guitarists, and of course other percussionists, has all led to J Stixx Live.
They say that to be successful you have to be passionate, so share what drives you every day. Why do you love what you do?
Passion is my middle name. I bring passion to all I do. I consider myself so lucky and blessed to be able to make my living doing something that I love. Not a lot of people can say they get to do this. Every aspect of making the clients vision come to life inspires me. It’s like I thrive on listening to what the client wants and producing it to actuality. It’s like I’m a painter, the client describes their vision and I run with it. Seeing the light in my client’s eyes as I describe their night – and then of course at the event itself – propels me forward to wanting to do more. No two events, no two parties are the same with J Stixx Live.
Whether I am drumming at the party, or managing the musicians I have a sense of pride because I know that the client is getting exactly what they want. I love to hear how happy I made the bride and groom, but even before they tell me, I just know they are happy, their guests are having fun, and will be talking about their party for years to come. People come from all walks of life with many stresses and pressures but when they are being entertained by myself and the musicians, I represent it as a break from life, a moment of bliss. Giving that to people is why I love what I do.
Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
Like any other business there are always ups and downs. I strongly believe that in order to make it you always need to be ahead of the game and always ready to reinvent yourself. I am an entrepreneur so I’m always looking for ways to expand, grow and collaborate. There have been many ventures that I have tried – some succeeded more than others – but one thing remained constant: the inclusion of music and entertainment. My customers can always count on good reliable service, high caliber musicians, and having fun.
We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
One night in my early twenties I was at the Guvernment night club and the power went out. Everyone was leaving because was no more music, but I just wasn’t ready for the party to end! So I grabbed two water bottles and created a rhythm and beat and the crowd started coming back in. There I was, in the middle of the dance floor, playing a beat on the floor with a pair of plastic water bottles. The sounds echoed through the main room, where people stopped leaving and started dancing to the sounds of my makeshift percussion. About 1000 people came rushing back in to the main room. This was evidence of how powerful and universal music is. People of all ages, ethnicity, and stages in life were united by the sounds of my music.
I also have a lot of fun with J Stixx Baby, a fun percussion-based program for kids, because I get to make children happy. Being a dad, my love for kids is exemplified in all of my classes. There are way too many stories to tell, but it’s always my favourite when a child who is more timid, or not participating right away gets comfortable and grows into the movement, rhythm and music. For me and for the parents to see this growth happening right before our eyes makes it all worthwhile.
What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
Time off? Whats that? Just joking. I get to spend a lot of time with clients and their families and part of why I can do what I do is because I understand what family means to all those people. On my time off I enjoy spending time with my own family. But the reality is that even when with family and friends, music is part of who I am. From dance parties with my kids to jamming in the car to songs on the radio, music continues to be a part of my life. I am lucky because almost everywhere I go, even on my days off, I see my clients enjoying time with their families. To those who don’t know my name, I am also referred to as the drummer with the hat, so when I am out without my hat I get to see my clients even when I am not recognized.
This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
Social media is very important to my business. Social networking generally gives the best referrals because clients tell their friends, and the message is easy to share. All it takes is for a few people to confirm how good of a time they had, and that builds credibility. J Stixx Baby was built on social media and word of mouth almost exclusively.
That said, it’s not easy. Social media marketing is hard and very demanding. We try to mix a bit of publicity and advertising, but also express our thanks for the support as well as provide our audience with valuable information and articles.
How are you involved in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
Community support is important and I always look to give back. J Stixx has performed at a variety of charity events for things like MS, Sick Kids, Make a Wish Foundation, Reena, Movember, Sarah Watkin and more. I am so thankful for my path and I definitely didn’t get there alone, so they’re right when they say it takes a village. I have been supported by my family and friends, and my community, so I want to support back.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
We’re looking forward to more success and growth for J Stixx Live and J Stixx Baby. I also want to continue to develop partnerships with other great talents and event vendors. For sure, we’re never going to stay still. We want to continue to grow and reinvent ourselves. I want to think about the next big thing and continue to strive to be ahead of the times.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
You always need to reinvent yourself and never get comfortable. There will always be someone who aspires to be just like you, but take it as a compliment and use it to propel yourself forward. Make sure you stay inspirational, focused, and innovative.
Always be humble, as it keeps you grounded. Take care of those who take care of you, and treat others how you want to be treated. There’s lots of karma in business.