Joe Banko, aka Dr. Byrd, owns Stone Age Lighting & Sound in Arizona and is one of the newest members to the CHAUVET® DJ VIP Rewards program. He spent 12 years on the road as a lighting designer and roadie, then went on to work in the IT industry. After a few decades, Banko grew tired of the IT sub culture and went back to the entertainment industry. He specializes in parties, proms, weddings, corporate events and any other type of event where people want to have a great time. Read on and get to know a little more about your fellow DJ.
1. How and when did you get started as a DJ?
I spent 12 years on the road as a lighting designer and roadie. Traveling the country in a Winnebago or 12-seat plane can be fun, but it can also physically burn you out. You do learn to cook and that ended up getting me married. I got sidetracked for a couple of decades in the IT industry, ended up getting tired of the IT sub-culture, and went back to entertainment a couple of years ago. I have much more fun throwing photons and sound waves around in creative ways.
2. Is this a full-time job or something you do on the side?
Both — it depends how busy I want to be. I use about four software packages and have written an iPad application to run all of them from a single device. I also run and program my DMX/MIDI sequences from the same application using my iPhone to send live video to my video switching software. This allows me to interact with the audience and run the show at the same time — people love to be involved. For side jobs, I’m also a data analyst, database developer and software developer.
3. What fixtures are included in your setup?
My setup includes: Scorpion RGY and Scorpion GBC 2.0 lasers, LED Mushroom and 6SPOT effect lights, a MotionFacade LED drape and a Bubble King bubble machine. I’m looking to add a bigger truss system, a Nimbus dry-ice machine, Intimidator Spot moving heads, more uplighting and Xpress 512 Plus.
4. What is your favorite fixture and why?
My Scorpion lasers. I have loved laser technology since I was a teenager and you can program the heck out of these using DMX.
5. Best advice you can give someone just getting started in the DJ industry?
Watch: what’s hot in video, what gets people dancing and what the competition is doing. Listen: what’s hot in music, how to hook tunes together and what your clients want.