HOW A CONCEPT THAT CHALLENGES WHAT PEOPLE EXPECT FROM A DJ AND SPECIAL EVENTS COMPANY TOOK ROOT IN LONG BRANCH
BY AMANDA McCoy
It was the late aughts, and Jason Jani, founder of the then young DJ entertainment company SCE Event Group, was en route from a wedding in Upstate New York back to his New Jersey home. Jani had been in the business of mixing music since young adulthood, but was still in the early stages of getting this newfound venture off the ground a concept with a vision of breaking the stereotypes of what an DJ is, and could be.
During that drive home, he got a call from a wedding guest that he would never forget. “I don’t know who you are or where you came from,” the caller offered, “but I have never seen someone rock a wedding like that.” It turned out to be a defining moment in SCE’s germination, when the young entrepreneur knew he was onto something. Over the next decade, Jani and his team of more than 50 people would rock countless weddings, play VIP parties and corporate events, work alongside music heavyweights like Cardi B., Diplo, and Jay-Z, and spin VIP events for celebrities like Martha Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, and the Philadelphia Eagles.
“My dream was to create something special,” Jani explained. “Something different than what people in the private event industry were doing or were accustomed to experiencing.”
And the Garden State native had half a lifetime of experience to draw upon. He’d begun experimenting with mixing music when he was barely old enough to vote, but it was his first visit to a teen nightclub at 18 that created the real spark, and he remembers being enchanted by the hundreds of people dancing to the DJ’s set. An obsession was born, he explained, and he began practicing morning and night in his bedroom slowly garnering the skill to open a room.
“I was fascinated by the ability to use music to influence emotion,” Jani recalled.
A start opening small rooms led to bigger ones, and before long his schedule was filling up every weekend. An engineering manager for AT&T by day, Jani was bringing the beat by night, spinning at bars and clubs all over the state. Then, on one fortuitous evening in the late 2000s, he was approached with a question that would alter the course of his career.
“I was in Hoboken and someone asked me about doing a private event,” he said. “I wasn’t really about it at first, but that’s actually how my company started. Someone wanted something different, and so that was the foundation—for people to have whatever they want in an event…to dream bigger. I wanted to bring the nightlife experience to a social, private, or corporate event space, and to wrap the energy of a dope DJ with the excellence of organization and professionalism.
”In the nine years since its birth, SCE has gone from a shared 300 square foot office to a 4,000 square foot space in West Long Branch, along with a home sized storage unit. Its team of professionals includes a full time DJ crew and office staff, and Jani touts the talent of that team as one of the main reasons the company has enjoyed double digit growth every year since its inception.
And the crew doesn’t just spin; SCE provides a range of event services, from lighting and staging to indoor fireworks and photo booths. It also pioneered the 360 Spin Booth in the New Jersey area, which offers a full 360 degree slow motion video experience. But as the founder explained, these services are merely a jumping off point, and potential clients aren’t limited to the services they can already find on the website.
“If someone wants to come into their party on an elephant, we’ll find a way to make it happen,” Jani said with a smile. “Everything we do is completely customized; we challenge people to dream bigger and never settle.”
This inspiration focused ethos has turned the heads of influential executives in the event industry over the years, leading to opportunities that the DJ admitted he never could’ve dreamed of. Hard work and hustle is in his DNA, however, he explained, so he always brought, and brings, energy to each stage, no matter its size.
“I played an event at the Borgata a while back and there were maybe 100 people there who could care less who I was, but I played as if there were 500 people in front of me,” said Jani. “I earned the attention and respect of the person who was running the event, and she eventually went to work for the Philadelphia Eagles. Through her, I’ve been lucky enough to become an entertainment resource for team events.”
Jani has maintained this relationship over the years, and early this February, that same Eagles associate rang his phone with an offer to come to Minneapolis for an event.
“It didn’t really click at first, then I put it together,” he recounted. “I was at the gym and I almost fell off my machine. She was asking me to be the house DJ for the Eagles for what ended up being the Super Bowl post game party, thrown by the owner.”
Playing alongside household names like Cardi B and Diplo, Jani spun music for seven or eight hours that night until the morning birds began to chirp. “That was a life moment,” he said. “It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.”
Another standout experience, for very different reasons, came in October of last year, when Jani was in Las Vegas for a VIP event with Wedding Wire, a company that operates online marketplaces for the wedding industry in 14 countries, including the U.S,. Canada, Spain, France, Brazil, and India. On Sunday evening, not even an hour after his flight touched down at McCarran Airport, tragedy struck on the Strip across from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino a mass shooting by a single man armed with 23 rifles that left 58 people dead and 851 injured.
“At first, we didn’t understand the magnitude of what had happened,” recalled Jani. Two days later, in lieu of the scheduled wedding industry party the DJ was to headline with Montell Jordan, Wedding Wire, e Knot, and others put on a benefit event. Playing in front of 1,700 people, Jani helped raise more than $30,000 for victims and their families. “We took an incomprehensibly tragic circumstance and used it as a way to raise awareness to do some good things for the people impacted by the shooting,” Jani explained. Starting SCE, the founder revealed, wasn’t something that materialized out of business plan, but by chance. It was a desire to inspire people that pushed him to spin, and that same appetite compelled him to create a company that challenges the status quo. After almost a decade in business, the father of three admits it’s still as mind bending today as it was that first day when a couple set their wedding date around his schedule.
“Growing up, I didn’t think this was something that could be possible,” Jani said. “Most people thought I was crazy for leaving the awesome opportunity I had working at AT&T. But now, I know I’m doing what I was put on this planet to do.”
SCE Event Group
804 Broadway, West Long Branch
888.278.0900 / sceeventgroup.com