DJ, financial wiz, radio personality… is there anything that Geovanni Blanco Johnson is not? For Ochi Insider purposes, we probe specifically into his life as roaming DJ.
For starters… how does a DJ become a DJ?
The love and passion for different genres of music, from a tender age, passed down from my mother who would sing as I created beats on the table to get the rhythm going. I clearly remember my first birthday gift of a battery radio and night after night I’d listen to stations like Irie FM and RjR, those were the kicks — I remember getting up early to sun my batteries, yes… sun them to charge up lol!
I wanted then to be a radio spokesman or that person who plays the music. So from there and then the ‘Drive for Radio’ is what motivated me.
How long have you been doing this professionally?
I started in 2004 as a teenager playing two CD players with friends at my home, but the first time it clicked for me professionally was my first show in 2009 in St Catherine, beginning the DJing until the big DJs showed up.
A very busy man… what does a typical working week look like?
I am a banker by profession, at JMMB Investments where I would work a daily 9-5 and, depending on my diary, would rush home, prepare for the evening’s event then show up. Most events are Wednesdays to Sundays, knowing I have to work the following morning. I am also a part-time Radio DJ presenting HighWay Fridays and Saturdays (6-9pm Fridays, 2-6pm Saturdays).
My most challenging time is the Weddings and Jamaica Carnival season for which I am mostly booked in advance. And I am now the resident DJ presenting a Thursday show on the north coast to ring in the Soca Season alongside various Guest DJs.
How would you motivate the crowd if nobody was dancing?
That's an interesting question! The key factor is being able to ‘read’ the crowd in front of you. If a crowd is giving little reaction, am I playing what I feel I should be playing and not what the crowd wants to hear? Being able to gauge this is a plus in any event.
For me, two common causes: either the intensity of the music is not happening, or a failure to “tempt” the people onto the dance floor with songs that connect. To avoid this, I try to look out for the more lively audience members at the start of my first hour — which music got them moving? I always give them more of what they want, to keep them moving, and build up the excitement to pull others into the vibes. Vibes bring vibes!
Tell us about your musical tastes.
My musical tastes… wow, I have a vast amount of knowledge in music and of different genres. My preference is Soca and Dancehall, with Soca perhaps a 65% impact. I also like Bachata and Salsa.
How does constant new technology effect what you do?
The times are changing and I have seen the industry growth regarding upgrades to equipment and technology. This can be costly but, as DJs, we need to invest in the tools of our trade. To be equipped and ready for any changes, any transition generally runs smoothly without affecting the quality of the music.
Which of your past gigs has stood out the most and why?
Here we go now… lol… the event that stands out the most for me was Soca Invasion in Mandeville. This was a ‘powder effect party’ but the crowd and the response — OMG — I was actually pulled from the stage lol… the rage and powder toss was something I won’t forget in a hurry. I received a similar reaction at Ocho Rios Carnival too.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years?
My 5 year wish would be to work at the biggest station in the Caribbean, Zip103FM. In 10 years? To have started my own radio station with my own FM band covering Ocho Rios/St Ann, creating a diverse set of programmes for the younger vibrant listeners.
If you were elected Mayor, what changes to Ochi would you put in place?
If I was given such an opportunity I would create ways to safely accommodate the homeless and those of unsound mind from off the streets of Ocho Rios — being a tourist resort — and provide shelter with facilities. Additionally, I would introduce more community policing, constantly circulating to protect the people and their possessions.
Do carrots scream when you chop them?
Do carrots scream hmmm, I think they probably do when being cut up. Perhaps an all-night Beach Carrot Party with lots of daggering carrot-girls would refresh them back to fullness.