IN MY SQUAD – PHIL HARVEY OF 2020 SOUNDS
I’m not going to lie, the wedding industry is hard work! You only have to do a google search of Kent Wedding Photographer or Kent Wedding DJ to see just how many of us pop up so I don’t envy you having to choose one. But making the right choice is so important which is why I love doing these ‘in my squad’ blogs. I have worked with lots of suppliers but I won’t shout about all of them. I will only tell you about the bloody good ones and the ones that I would use if I were getting married.
So, this is Phil from 2020 Sounds and yes, I can shout about him as I have worked with him and also he was my wedding DJ when I got married! The images in this blog were a few taken as part of a branding shoot for 2020 Sounds at Bewl Water. T His recently upgraded gear looks absolutely amazing and I can vouch for how it sounds. We were bopping around during the shoot, it was so fun. He has been in this business for over 10 years and in a field as competitive as ours, that is some achievement. I absolutely LOVE the honesty and humour in this blog. It resonates with me and is clearly why I picked him as my DJ. I hope he resonates with you too.
How did 20-20 Sounds come into being?
I had a really good marketing role with Mercedes-Benz, and then out of the blue I was told I
was being made redundant. Having worked so hard over a six-year period I didn’t really
have a Plan B. I didn’t want to look for another job because I knew no matter what my next
role was it would never live up to what I had just lost.
So it was time for something drastic!! Sink or Swim. Let’s try something I always told myself I
could do but never had the conviction to start. Let’s start a business. Friends and family
always told me I should do something with music because they knew how passionate I was
about it. It was too late start a band (if I did I would have called it Midnight Dinners Club)
that said I couldn’t sing (and still can’t) and I still haven’t learnt to play a musical instrument
(well not since the recorder).
So I started to looked up DJ courses, found one, stayed in a Hotel for a week and learnt all
you could learn in that time. I was fascinated and hooked. This is what I wanted to do, I just
had to start.
So with a head full of ideas, mixed emotions, questions and doubt, I had a long hard chat
with myself and said it’s time to jump. Now or never…that was July 2009. Ten years later I
am still going, still growing, still questioning myself and still working hard to achieve my
Tell us a bit about your own personal music taste?
Now you have to remember I am 41! I have gone through all the stages you could expect a
40+ adult to go through. I was a huge Michael Jackson fan when I was really little, then
through my teenage years I went down the dark and twisted “Metal Head” stage. Yep!
That’s quite a leap Michael Jackson to Metallica. I still love some of those thrash metal
bands and still play them in the car. Then went through the Indie Bands stage (the less
commercial ones) like Gene. Dance music isn’t lost on me…but I will always choose bands
and singer songwriters. I still have a soft spot for The Cure and The Smiths. Currently I like
artists such as Submotion Orchestra, The XCERTS, Ben Howard, The XX, and Gabrielle Aplin.
Favourite album of all time Disintegration.
What difficulties are there with wedding music that people don’t often consider?
When I first started I want to control every aspect of the evening. I would give guests a huge
music catalogue which I produced much like a karaoke song book and ask them to choose
80 songs. I realised how overwhelming this was for clients and how much work I had created
for myself trying to personalise each client’s reception.
As time went by I learnt how an evening reception works, the breaks in between and when
to play the right music at the right time. This only comes from experience.
So now I ask clients to choose 15 songs, if not songs, genres of music they like, bands or
artists so I can get a good idea of what to play. Equally I ask for songs, genres of music they
don’t like so if a guests ask for something I know what to play and not.
Put simply there are many things you can and can’t control for reception. Choose music that
is familiar to people, the more it is the more people will dance. Those that don’t dance
regardless of how much they have drunk will still enjoy the music because they know what’s
It’s that 80-20 rule. Choose 20% of the music you like and 80% of what others like. At the
end of the day saying “We just like dance music” is fine, until you start playing it and nobody
dances because nobody knows what’s playing, other than a small handful of your friends.
What is the biggest challenge being a Wedding DJ?
Much like a marathon runner being a Wedding DJ is all about pace. You have to know what
music to play and when. Even when guests are asking for songs you know will have a greater
impact later on in the evening. You have to use all your experience to structure the evening
so all the good songs are played at the right moments. No one will remember the first song
you played, hopefully they will be singing the last song on the way back home in the taxi.
You always want to leave a lasting impression.
What is the best ‘first dance’ track you’ve been asked to play?
That is a brilliant question. I think the one that stands out the most is The Book of Love by
Peter Gabriel (he covered it). I think the words are so fitting. I remember playing the song
when it was requested and instantly loving it, although some may find it very slow.
You must have had some strange or funny music requests. What are they?
I think the one that springs to mind most is Nellie the Elephant by The Toy Dolls; it was a
Stag Night experience apparently. Not one I think should ever be experienced ever again.
What do you do when you are not playing banging wedding music?
I lead a quite life, running the business and working full time means I have very little spare time. To
escape the madness I love to run, in 2017 I completed a 1000KM running challenge. I have taken on
the same challenge this year. Without wishing to sound cliché music is something I always fall back
on, discovering new music, bands and artists will always be my first love.
What is your favourite part of a wedding?
The last hour. I tend to play all the songs I like most (going back to my second answer) the
band music, Kings of Leon, Bon Jovi, Brian Adams, Arctic Monkeys, and House of Pain. Then
my all time favourite song Mr Brightside. It’s the one song that can turn a room of strangers
into a good old family reunion.
One interesting fact about you that most people won’t know
Not sure if it’s interesting. I was on TV for a week presenting a show called Early Bird. I
didn’t get fired, they had new presenters on each week. Thankfully all the video evidence has
now been destroyed.
Do you have a bucket list and what is at the top?
I would love to spend some time in a recording studio with a band to see how a song is put
together. I have watched so many documentaries about how my favourite albums have
been made. I find the whole process fascinating.
Tea of coffee?
Tea with a Bacon Sarnie …but would always choose coffee.
Crisps or chocolate?
Chocolate…I have the world’s sweetest tooth, I can’t think of a single thing I wouldn’t eat if
it was covered in chocolate (within reason)!
Cat or dog?
Dogs. I have grown up having Labradors; they really are man’s best friend. Those that don’t
agree just don’t understand.
Vacation or staycation?
I’m not very good at sitting still; I can’t stand still for a minute. Ask any of my friends it’s a
long-standing joke about how much I pace. My little brain works overtime. So, going away
somewhere hot to sit on a beach is lost on me. I like to have little breaks…but I have to be
close to a laptop. Sad but true.
Cosy inglenook fireplace or beautiful beach?
Based on my previous answer it would have to be a cosy inglenook, nice meal, good friends,
conversations that go nowhere with plenty to drink, listening to great music.
Home cooked or takeaway?
I couldn’t cook a fine meal if my life depended on it, so takeaway and a film seems the best
option for me. Plus my diet is terrible…hence the running.
Trainers or slippers?
I hate slippers and socks. True story. I prefer trainers, always bare foot at Home even in the
winter, must have been a hobbit in a former life!
Beer or wine?
I have never been a big drinker, even in my twenties I was a little light weight. I drink
Guinness and Jack Daniels and Coke (not in the same glass) nowadays on a rare night out.
Not too many though and I will start telling everyone how much I love them…and that’s
Early bird or night owl?
Weirdly both. Working full-time I am up early, on the weekends when DJing I am Home late,
hence why I look like a zombie most of the time. Can’t complain, who else can say they get
paid to do something they love? Very few.
I’m so grateful to Phil for his honesty and openness, a couple of the best attributes of a good wedding supplier. Check out the link below to find him x
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I'm a documentary wedding photographer based in Kent and also cover Surrey, Sussex, Essex and London. I also love to shoot family portraits in the Kent area.
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