What do the Connecticut Ballet, Westport Weston Family Y and Maccabi Games have in common?
All had hugely successful parties — thanks in large part to DJ Henry Fisher.
It’s not easy to create a playlist that satisfies gala-goers, little kids and their parents, and teenage athletes at the “Jewish Olympics.”
It’s especially tough if you’re only a high school junior. But Henry — who has lived in Westport most of his life — keeps every party going.
Music is a big part of his life. At Hopkins — where he transferred after Kings Highway Elementary and Coleytown Middle Schools — he plays piano in the jazz rock ensemble, heads up the Jam Club, runs cross country and participates in the Science Olympiad.
Outside of school he coaches in the Westport Y’s Special Olympics track and swim programs, and tutors computer science and music with Zaniac.
Four years ago, he began his DJ business. At first he used playlists from Spotify. But he was fascinated by the Ableton Live music production software. He bought a mixer board, learned how to add special effects and transitions between songs, and plugged his piano into his computer to add synth lines.
Henry’s big break came when he entertained 10,000 Maccabi Games attendees and friends at Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena. Bar mitzvahs, birthday parties and fundraisers followed.
Henry is a pro. He does not simply show up at a gig and start spinning records. Before any event he consults with the host. He spends a ton of time planning a playlist.
For last month’s Westport Y Special Olympics fundraiser thrown by the Kiev family, for example, he had to balance pop music for hundreds of kids with ’80s hits, for the adults.
It’s easy to know what elementary school children like for the Kings Highway Pumpkinpalooza. It’s another entirely to entertain at the Westport Senior Center. (Henry — who listens to “a ton of different genres” — has extensive oldies knowledge. Still, for the Senior Center, he consulted his parents.)
Henry is not complacent. Between songs, he checks out the crowd. He’ll switch tunes on the fly, adjusting to the constantly changing vibe.
The whole idea, he says, is to get people “dancing and happy.”
Henry loves the energy of a good party. He feeds off of crowd responses. He also enjoys sharing music with people, and introducing them to new sounds.
A good DJ, he says, should be flexible. He can’t stand professionals who stick to a pre-set playlist.
As befits a jazz pianist, he thinks “the whole night should be improvisational. I’ll ditch what I’ve prepared if it’s not going well, or if I’ve got better options.”
Henry also likes taking requests. Otherwise, he says, “I’d just be like Spotify.”
He’s not sure where DJing will take him. He’s still learning, he says. But he’s also expanding his business skills.
In the meantime, if you see Henry Fisher: Party on!
(For more information on Henry Fisher’s DJ business, click here.)