A Long Way From Home
Brendan Fallis, DJ, Entrepreneur, and manager for Theophilus London, took some time to discuss his humble beginnings, starting out in New York City.
If anyone can tell you how far Brendan Fallis has come, it’s Fallis himself. It’s not because his hometown of Durham — a small town in Ontario, Canada — is far removed from New York City, but because this DJ/Entrepreneur is, in fact, making it in America.
Since moving to NYC to pursue bigger and better aspirations, he has quickly risen the ranks as one of the city’s go-to DJs, all while managing recording artist Theophilus London and Brooklyn-based design duo, Dee and Ricky. However, his interest for opportunities does not stop at music and fashion, as evident by his latest venture, Waiola Coconut Water. Since teaming up with founder David Lin and fellow partner Matthew George, this start-up business has made quite the impression since it’s launch in late 2012. Stocking some of the best spots around the world, from Colette in Paris, Hazelton Hotel in Toronto, Cafe Select in New York City, and Dean and Deluca in Japan, it’s no wonder why this newly formed brand has been the beverage of choice amongst key influencers and the health-conscious crowd. Not bad for a small town boy.
With only a few years under his belt as an entrepreneur, Fallis has acquired a portfolio worth bragging about. But the humble Canadian won’t boast about his accomplishments. That’s not in his nature, and that’s surely not how he got to where he is today. He has experienced success by simply treating each opportunity like his last and being respectful along the way. And while some believe that “nice guys always finish last,” perhaps Fallis may have a different outlook.
Q: You learned the basics of DJing just a few years ago, how did you get your first big break?
One day a friend of mine, who was managing this cool eatery spot in the West Village called Pop Burger, approached me about DJing every Monday at a Pop Burger that opened up Uptown. Basically, I took the gig so I could eat dinner and have a few drinks, and since there was no one really there on Monday’s, I had ample time to improve my skills.
Q: Today, your DJing everything from Vogue parties to Cannes Film Festival, was there a defining moment where you gained confidence in your DJ abilities?
Well one day at Pop Burger, the owners friends were in there, Randy Gerber and Cindy Crawford, and Randy told the manager that he thought the DJ was great. When I found out, it was my first real confidence boost. Shortly after, the owner found out what was said and next thing I know, I’m DJing every Saturday with Marley Marl. I’d watch him for like an hour or two every time I’d open for him, which was inspiring.
Q: Would you say networking helped contribute to a lot of your success?
In my opinion, I was too old to be starting DJing at 27. I treated it like a business and printed cards, that was my networking way. I would follow-up the next morning just to say thank you and to offer my services again. A lot of DJs go in, get wasted and get paid. I was partying every night, but I still made it into the office at 10 a.m. I made sure I treated it like a profession, and that helped me a lot, or at least gave me a leg-up on a lot of contacts in the city. As soon as I started DJing I thought “It’s gotta be so easy to meet people,” so I was always clean cut, not caring how much it paid and looked at it as an intern position.
Q: So what was the catalyst for you to make the leap to New York?
I had a friend from my old ski team who moved down here to New York and started an agency called Launch Collective, which helped launch fashion brands into the U.S market. After taking a trip to Thailand, I made a stop to NYC to meet him, it was then when he told me he needed help. So in the meantime, I got a bartending job, got my VISA, and moved down.
“I was partying every night, but I still made it into the office at 10 a.m. I made sure I treated it like a profession, and that helped me a lot.”
Q: What were you doing in that aspect?
I thought I was coming in as a consultant, but little did I know I was the ‘go-to’ guy — coffees, FedEx, accounting, payroll, buying photocopiers. I was pretty much the only employee for three people, so I was doing everything while trying to bring my own clients in. I moved here making only $21K/year, which is the salary of a starting company. My rent was like $1250 a month so it was tough but the guys at Launch Collective were great and I thought the company was cool, it was like working in emerging fashion, which at the time I thought was amazing.
Q: Outside of DJing, you also manage guys like Dee & Ricky, as well as Theophilus London, how did all that come about?
I met Dee & Ricky while working at Launch Collective, and continued to work with them on the side. Fashion business is higher end, with a bigger space and I met a lot of people, but Dee & Ricky were more of my speed and they opened a door to that lane. Launch Collective taught me the ropes of business and what it was like to work in that environment. Dee & Ricky opened up my “cool connection” and through them, I was able to meet everyone from Steve Stout to Theophilus London, all the Supreme kids, that whole cool side of things, which I think helped a lot.
Q: Your first encounter with Theophilus started when the both of you collaborated on a Cinco De Mayo party and since then it has evolved into a great business relationship. Does it stop at DJing, or do you consult in his endeavours?
Yeah, we did that and it was a crazy turnout. After that, he approached me to DJ for him back around December 2011. At the time, he was still using other DJs. Initially, I was only supposed to do 2 weeks during his tour. But during the mid-country leg of his tour, I was looked at as more of an asset to the business rather than just the DJing. I was there on that day-to-day level, talking about hotel deals and advice on different routes and stuff. His other road manager eventually said, “You have to stay on with us.”
Q: You have your hands dipped in a lot of things — managing, Waiola, tours, and rocking parties. What is key to keeping balance in your life?
I enjoy my life so I always try to balance it really well. You can’t really turn off your phone anymore, you can’t just have a weekend, especially with managing an artist and DJing. I love what I’m doing, so it doesn’t really feel like work. It’s balanced, because I enjoy it. I like traveling with Theophilus London, going to other studios and meeting the other managers. Last time I was in Paris we did a song with Uffie and I was talking to her manager on how he got started. Even though you’re stuck in a studio for eight hours, in what may seem like a black hole with the same song constantly playing, you can still find ways to make it interesting.
Coming from a skiing background I was always trained to set goals, which I was never that good at. I hardly wrote any of my performance goals down. I don’t think my approach is calculated, but I am concerned with never burning a bridge. I learned this in skiing a while ago. There was a coach on our team that everyone hated. She was a three time Olympic champion but I thought there were a lot of pointers I could get from her, I just had to find a way to get to know her. Even if there’s someone you meet who you just don’t relate to, you can still gain something that could prove to be beneficial to you out of that relationship. You’ll never feel bad about reaching out because they’d reach out to you. I guess it’s the age-old “treat people how you want to be treated” type of thing and all the old cliches that your dad taught you, universal rules that are forever applicable.
People always say, “don’t work with friends” I don’t think that’s true anymore. I look at my friends who are part of a great team producing amazing work. I really like working with good people whom I enjoy spending time with, and there would be nothing better than making money with these people. That would be a success in my mind — to get everything I’m working on and all the people involved to get to the same level so we can all enjoy that same success.