- Tue, 2009-06-09 12:40
MistaJam rocks every Saturday night into Sunday morning (3am-5am) on Radio 1 while every weeknight from 7-10pm he is in charge on 1Xtra. His latest project is titled Speakerbox. A 15 date tour spanning the country which sees Jam overtaking festivals and clubs, taking a host of first-rate cutting edge talent in the form of DJs, producers, artists and performers on the road with him; all of whom he has been championing across his radio shows in recent months.
Something that sets MistaJam apart from his peers is his diversity. He is the figurehead of the concept that the barriers between musical genres are being broken down. I Like Music caught up with MistaJam to chat about Speakerbox, the hard work he has put in to get where he wants to be and his advice for those looking to pursue their dream career.
"I Like Music because… music is me.” MistaJam
ILM: How was the first night of Speakerbox?
MistaJam: It kicked off in Manchester and it was really really good! People really took to the vibe of it, we had some good people down there!
ILM: How would you describe the whole vibe of Speakerbox?
MistaJam: At this moment in time genre boundaries are breaking down. So you're getting what would perhaps be seen as traditionally urban artists working with dance artists or indie artists. People are going out and appreciating good music for good music, which is apparently how it used to be. I mean, I'm 26, so I wasn't around in the eighties and early nineties, the second summer of love. But I have a lot of older friends who say that at that time that was what it was like. You know, hip hop artists collaborating with dance artists and things like that. A tune was a big tune. When you went to a club you would literally hear a little bit of everything. Speakerbox is trying to get hold of that vibe and take it on the road. That's the kind of thing I tend to do on my Radio 1 show and my 1Xtra show.
ILM: You're taking a lot of artists on the road with you. Any personal highlights out everyone involved?
MistaJam: Personally I can't single out one! It has taken me a long time to get everyone together. We have big names! There are also people like 18 year old Chipmunk who is causing huge waves and is now signed to a major record label. He's been around on the grime scene since he was about 14, so it's good to be able to take him out on the road to night clubs and for him not to be underage! On Sunday night we had Sway. He's been going for a while now, but he's more relevant than ever. I mean, he's worked with Akon! He looks like one of the UK artists who is going to break the US. There's a lot of really good talent. I'm really happy that there are people on the tour that I have a personal relationship with and that I've supported for a good while.
ILM: What do you look forward to the most about getting out there and playing a set?
MistaJam: I've been DJing since I was 14. My first ever professional gig was at the Hacienda in Manchester the year that it was closed down! I was 14 then. I was DJing by myself and with the hip hop crew that I started out with. I love going to clubs. I love it when people know the music. I also love it when people are open to DJs playing a new record. I DJ all around the world, places like Kenya, Norway and New York but there is something special about the UK. People have always been open to having a really, really good party.
ILM: Is there any one track that is making it into all your sets at the moment without fail?
MistaJam: I'm so indecisive when it comes to music! I can never ever say there is one track that is my favourite, one that I'm definitely going to play. I like to be one of those DJs that just plays it by ear and sees what the crowd are saying. Although saying that, at this moment in time there seems to be one underground UK funky record, a dancing record called the Migraine Skank. It's by Gracious 'Nappa Man' K from London. He's invented this dance, written this song, put it up on youTube and it has had a ridiculous amount of views! It's just putting the fun back into music with a dance. People know the dance, they do the dance when we play the record. So I'll definitely play that! Along with some Drum n Bass, some Hip Hop, some RnB, a bit of everything.
ILM: You're a very talented man! As well as DJing you present, act, write and more! What's your advice to anyone looking to pursue their dream career?
MistaJam: It's a lot of hard work. You've got to make sure you're willing to put in a lot of hours and make a lot of sacrifices. I've made a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am right now. I didn't do my A Levels because an opportunity came up and I took it. You know, I've worked really, really hard! Anybody that thinks it is going to be easy needs to think again. If you want to follow your dream then you've got to put in the work. If you do put in the work then you might end up in the position that I'm in where you're doing your dream job, where people are paying you to do what you love and also where people are responding to what you are doing on a mass scale.
ILM: What have been the biggest highlights for you in your career so far?
MistaJam: For me it is a lot to do with the radio. I've always wanted to be on radio, I've always wanted to do what I'm doing on radio. I'm given a large amount of freedom too! I have 15 hours of 1xtra and 2 hours of radio on the biggest station in Europe. I'm always doing stuff for those guys. I could be sent a record two minutes before the show or even during the show and I am able to play it on air. I love radio, the form of radio. I think there is nothing more personal than radio. You decide to watch television, you're invited into it but with radio you can listen everywhere! In the car, in the bath, people listen on their phones. I mean, if people have headphones on then you are actually in people's heads. I love radio, I love what I do for Radio 1!
ILM: So do we! Where do you see yourself in years to come? What are your future plans?
MistaJam: A fusion between what I'm doing in the club and what I'm doing on air. The main focus at the moment is radio and also Speakerbox. This is the first time I'm going out there as myself, DJing on a tour that is my own brand. I've been involved in things in the past but this is the first time I get to take what I'm about out onto the road instead of taking part in other people's projects and slotting in with what they're doing. I want to take this as far as it can possibly go. It's down to the bosses, but I'd love to see myself doing what I'm doing on a grander scale for the rest of my life.