I’m proud and humbled that I get to work with some of the most amazing event companies and planners in the industry.  The fact that clients put their trust in me to deliver the absolute best day/night of their lives is something I never take for granted. – DJ Kristaval

We all can think of a single moment in our life where one hard decision or experience changed the entire course of our life or career. It’s those moments we are sometimes filled with fear and anxiety about the unknown future from that moment on.  Yet down the road when we find ourselves reflecting back on those moments, we feel grateful for that steel fork in the road and the resilience beauty that came out of it.  DJ Kristaval’s moment was a life-changing experience when she was told she was one “nudge/bump away” from being paralyzed from the neck down.  Her entire life shifted from that point on and led her on the path to becoming a professional full-time DJ.

DJ Kristaval is an open-format high profile private event DJ/MC, creative entrepreneur, tech nerd, and dog lover based in New Jersey.  For the last 6 years, she has been raising the bar in the DJ entertainment world bringing endless energy and class to weddings, corporate, social, and celebrity events.

Growing up in Jersey, little Kristaval wanted to be a singer superstar.  “I had posters of Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul all over my room. I had an opportunity when I was 17 to sing for some major record label executives and even recorded a single.  I recorded it at the Boys ll Men studio. My name was ‘Blonde Funk’ and I’m terribly embarrassed to admit that. I wore sweatsuits, Air Jordans, and my baseball hat sideways. I really thought I was super legit. I was planning on being the first female white rapper. And…. that didn’t work out. lol,” says Kristaval.

Kristaval eventually became a professional dancer, touring all over and performing at private events in the Tri-State area.  It was during this time that she got her exposure and fascination with DJing. “I worked with DJ legends in my industry often and listened to every mix and transition. I could pick out beats and samples from other tracks and I would mix them in my head. I remember thinking about the next song I would go into and wish I could jump on the decks and make it happen. I loved when they would let me pick out the Promo Only CD’s and choose the next song. I’d be flipping through the CD books so excited.  I loved watching the crowd respond to the song I picked..It gave me such a rush!”  Even though she loved it, she admits the thought of learning how to DJ was overwhelming. “There were no schools and I didn’t want to ask someone to teach me. I didn’t want to put myself out there for someone to say no,” explains Kristaval.

It was a life-changing experience that ultimately resulted in her decision to follow that DJ dream.  “One day while at work my hands and feet when numb. It got progressively worse over the course of the day until I couldn’t even hold anything in my hands or feel my feet. My husband took me to the hospital immediately where they did scans and told me I was one nudge/bump away from being paralyzed from the neck down. Apparently my spinal cord in my neck was almost cut off from bone spurs from repeated whip lashes.  I was a breakdancer/gymnast who also danced on concrete or on the hard basketball court at Madison Square Garden for the Knicks and never thought about the consequences of the moves I did. I do remember my neck always being sore and bruised on the back from kip ups but I never thought of it ever being that serious. When I got that diagnosis I was devastated and thought my life was over,” says Kristaval.

She had to undergo major neck surgery and became the first person in the USA to have a rotating ball implanted in her neck along with metal plates.  Doctors told her she would never dance again but after a year of rehab, she started dancing, however, the headaches became unbearable and she knew then she had to figure out a new career.  “It was at this time I told my husband I wanted to learn to DJ. I researched schools and found Scratch DJ Academy in NYC. It was there that I found myself again and found what I love to do most. I feel like DJing saved me and gave me a new way to express myself but this time off the dance floor,” says Kristaval.

Kristaval’s first set up was Stanton turntables and mixer she bought on eBay for $200, then after several periods of frustrations, she bought a pair of Technic 1200’s and a Rane mixer. Now she predominantly uses a DDJ-SZ controller. Her very first event was a school event for parents and 200 preschoolers.  Then her second event took it to a whole other level which was for Heineken Global at a venue in Times Square NYC.  “My hands were shaking the whole first hour that it made it difficult to even spin. I had guests coming to the booth to let me know they loved the music all night long. I’ll never forget that night. I knew at that moment I was where I was meant to be,” says Kristaval.

Throughout her DJ career, Kristaval has been blessed to DJ for some really cool events and clients. “I have my top 5 list, but one of my favorites is my first NFL Holiday party. To have the NFL request that I do their main holiday party was a huge moment for me. I’ve done it now for 3 years and it’s such a great time!  And I love flying to Cali to perform at NAMM with my Electrovoice family. I get to see everyone whom I adore and meet so many new people while getting to perform for 4 days!” expresses Kristaval.

DJing at NAMM for Electro-Voice

Kristaval also recalls a number of proud moments.  “Most of them is when people assume that since I’m a female DJ I don’t really know what I’m doing or I get booked just for my looks. Countless times I’ve stepped in at events to fix situations where other vendors didn’t have equipment, wires, cables, etc. or even know how to fix a problem. I love to fix things and I love the look on their faces when I do.”  

Kristaval has recognized the importance of being surrounded by a strong support system and have mentors over the last 6 years.  She credits DJ mentors such as DJ Noumenon (Pat Hanrahan) who have stood by her side. In addition, she has learned that part of growth is being able to adapt and adjust to challenging situations that come your way.  “There’s nothing better than loving what you do for a living. That helps when shit happens and you’ve gotta deal with the nonsense, you can get thru it a lot easier.  It’s not always rainbows and sunshine as all DJ’s and business owners know, states Kristaval. With the current pandemic crisis, Kristaval has put this in action. “When my events got postponed during the first month, I was angry and frustrated but I came to terms with it since it looked like it was only going to be 2 months. I truly thought it was going to be over by June and I watched the news every day hoping for some good news. I started having trouble sleeping at night and I developed asthma brought on by anxiety. Sitting back watching income disappear is a nightmare. I never imagined I’d be here right now and I was trying to figure out my next move.  The moment I decided I needed to take action and start virtual events, I received a phone call (literally 10 minutes after) from a dear friend and an amazing party planner.  She asked me if I could DJ a corporate event for 3000 people virtually. I said absolutely! I had a full AV team, a full roster of talent and within 24 hours we were ready to go. Since then things have been busy,” says Kristaval.

DJ Kristaval seems to have been born with a natural gift and talent of a multi-faceted creative entrepreneur.  Besides being a full time DJ/MC, she has side hustles and other business ventures.  “I wake my hubby up often in the middle of the night with new ideas. He’s so supportive but he also tells me when it’s a crazy idea and to let it go. I have a notebook of ideas, companies, and inventions that I keep next to my bed. I love to start businesses and have created many successful ones over the years. I’ve sold a few and they are doing well to this day. Well, they were until this pandemic hit. I also opened a restaurant (The Cool Cricket) with my Dad in 2008 and he now runs it full time. I’m incredibly proud of that restaurant since I had no prior experience in the industry and it became the most successful restaurant in the area in just 6 months after opening. It’s still going strong and we are currently transitioning it into an idea I came up with to meet the social distancing guidelines!”

It is the verity DJ Kristaval has found her niche in life.  Her innovative spirit, authentic charisma, and obvious love for the craft is a gift to the DJ industry.  “What I love is when I see so many different ethnic groups, cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds come together through music on the dance floor. That’s the power of music and that’s a great feeling,” expresses Kristaval.

www.kristaval.com

Behind the Decks Q & A (short answer)

Q: On event day or before a set – do you have any pre-event rituals that you feel set you up mentally or physically to be ready to go? 

A: I say a prayer before every event. 

Q: What is 1 thing you love the most about DJing?

A: That I get to connect to people through music. 

Q: What do you do at the end of the night after DJing a set?  

A: I put on my softest sweat pants, hair up, and I eat pizza and salt & vinegar potato chips on the way home. We (hubby and I) know all the great pizza spots by all the venues we work that are open late. 

Q: Using only one word, how would your colleagues and clients describe you?    

A: Genuine 

Q: What song or two immediately enters your mind when you want to see hands up in the air, bodies shaking/bouncing, and people going absolutely nuts!?!

A:  I have a remix of Danza Kuduro that works every time. 

Q: What artist/song do you think has made an impact on your sets in the last decade?

A: Everyone loves Pitbull. His songs still kill it every time! Young, old… they ask for Pitbull.

Q: What do you do in your free time when you aren’t DJing?  

A:  My favorite thing to do when I’m not working is take my dog Max for walks. Seeing his cute little fluffy head look around enjoying the view brings me so much joy I can’t take it!!  Even though this pandemic has postponed my events, it has allowed me to have much needed time off with my family. My mom was recently diagnosed with an illness so I’m using this time to do as much together as possible. We wear our face masks when we are together and keep a safe distance. I’m not going to lose precious time with her so we make it work.  Now If I could just win the lottery… that would be nice.