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FEELSUMMER INTERVIEW MISTAJAM (EXCLUSIVE)
British bassline beats have been tearing up the charts and sending shockwaves around the world - and there’s one man banging the drum.DJ and producer Mistajam has been at the forefront of the urban music revolution that has become the era-defining sound of a generation.The BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra broadcaster is considered a pioneer of underground sounds – taking them straight from the streets and unleashing them on the airwaves and to packed-out clubs.The Nottingham native is a man who defies categorization and mixes tastes and styles from dubstep to dancehall and garage to grime.His ear for cutting-edge new music and multi-genre DJ sets has made Mistajam one of the hottest properties on the British music scene.The former pirate radio spinner has experienced a meteoric rise to play crowds from Glastonbury to Ibiza.But Magaluf is the next stop for the jet-setting music mogul-in-the-making for what is already gearing up to be a sellout event.Mistajam will be gracing the decks at Mallorca superclub BCM this summer and you know “things are gunna get urban.”Feel Summer caught up with the man himself ahead of the unmissable gig.
Q. The name Mistajam has become a bit of a trademark and is certainly synonymous with underground music – how did you get it?A. It’s a name I’ve had since I first started as a DJ when I was 14 years old. It was one of those situations where I didn’t have a DJ name, I joined a DJ crew at my local youth club and needed a name.That was the first thing that sprang to mind. There was a Run DMC record at the time where DMC says “give it up for my DJ Jam” and I thought “OK, I’ll have that!” I was quite into scratching so I called myself after Jam Master Jay and it has stuck ever since.Q.What music influenced you the most growing up?A. I was born in the 80s and grew up in the 90s and 2000s and it was so diverse around that time. One week it would be house records being Number 1, then the next week it would be Oasis knocking them off the top spot then after that it would be some random European record that you would never hear of again. I think I’ve grown up around that era and been exposed to so many different kinds of music that it really developed my sense of being open to genres and being open to good stuff regardless of where it came from.Q. Do you think your multi-genre style and mixing of different music comes from growing up in the 90sA. I think so. I think when you look at DJs that have got a similar mindset to me and have grown up in a very similar era, and even DJs that are starting to make their name now, they are in their 20s which means they were born in the late 80s and were exposed to that same diverse musical landscape with the 90s and the 2000s.When you look at what happened nationally and internationally around that time – the rise of Hip Hop, the birth of Drum and Bass and Garage and the continuing rise of house music and Rock and Roll getting so many different resurgences and the whole Brit Pop thing. There were just so many different kinds of music around that point of time that it was just impossible for you not to be multi-genre.Q. As a DJ and broadcaster you have a pretty eclectic musical style – but are there any genres or artists that you just won’t play?A. To be honest I have got a remit on radio so there is a lot of stuff I love that I could never get away with playing on 1Xtra. I love Royal Blood – I think they are an absolutely amazing rock band but I would never get away with playing them on 1Xtra.However, what tends to happen is that I am immersed in so many really good different types of music that there is so many things that I can get away with. There is plenty to choose from.Q. You DJ live across the world, broadcast on BBC radio and run your own Speakerbox events – what gives you the most pleasure?A. It is just a job well done to be honest. That is the thing that gives me the most pleasure – whether it be a really good show and getting feedback from an artist who I’ve helped play – someone like Sam Smith who was Number 1 this week who I was very early in supporting him – or their first live performances or a gig or event that I was hosting. It is those kind of things That give me as much pleasure as going to an amazing superclub like BCM and making everybody get their hands in the air and being told on Twitter for months afterwards that that was the best night of their holiday. That feeling of a job well done is what I try and strive for.Q.You are considered a pioneer of urban music and a leading tastemaker – do you pride yourself on discovering a diamond in the rough and how do you go about it?A. Absolutely. The currency that a DJ – and especially a new music DJ like me – kind of trades on is being able to find the next big thing, being able to find the next good thing and being able to find the music that doesn’t necessarily go to the top of the charts but that lots of people are very excited about. That is the kind of thing I think that any new music DJ is priding themselves on these days.Q. Growing up with American urban artists in the 80s and 90s with Hip Hop etc, did you ever see a day when the British would do it just as good and do you think we are going through a golden age right now?A. I think that Britain has always led the pack – regardless of genre because nobody has the cultural mix that we have over here.You look at what is happening in politics and there is a lot of people forgetting about the reason why our culture is as strong as it is which is because of the diverse mix of people that come to this country and really add to the culture of the country. You have got a real tradition in American Blues Rock music from the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles who were listening to that early Blues, that early Rock ‘n’ Roll, adopting it and creating their own style. You have got the Jamaican influence and the soundsystem culture with spawned Hip Hop that then gave us this knowledge and understanding of the way to use bass. You have got the European industrial sounds, electronic sounds and the Chicago house stuff that was coming over. There are some random Indie influences thrown in there. But go to American and they don’t have that. Parts of Europe they don’t have that. I am lucky enough to cover all over the world and they don’t have the same kind of blend that we have so when you listen to our music and the music that comes out of this country it is such an eclectic blend that it is just head and shoulders above everything else. Not just with rappers and not just with singers – we are definitely in the pack right across the board.Q. This is something that feeds directly into your style and into your shows and your live sets – this eclectic British but international sound?A. It absolutely does. I am not afraid to take musical risks. In a club – somewhere like BCM – where you’ve got an amazing soundsystem, you might as well put it to the test. Alongside the current big records like your Second Cities or your Calvin Harrises etc you want to hear some Oasis or a little bit of Bob Marley or something like that that’s thrown in there.I was playing Radio 1’s Big Weekend and I was playing some Jackson 5 and some Diana Ross and that got as big a response as One Direction did so that kind of says everything for me.Q. Is this the kind of thing that clubbers can expect when you hit BCM this summer?A. For me personally, I am a DJ who likes to read a crowd. I like to never go into a situation knowing exactly what it is I’m going to play because that can become quite sterile. I am the kind of person that likes to react to what the crowd are giving me. If I walk into BCM and it is absolutely packed – as it normally is – and everybody wants to hear really high-energy, hands-in-the-air kind of stuff then that is what I will do. If the energy is such that they are looking for a little bit more of a subdued, dancey, deep house kind of thing then that is what I will do. But to be honest what I tend to do is take people on a journey – start at one place and end in a different place.Q. I know you have played some massive events like Fabric, Space and Glastonbury, but how does somewhere like BCM compare?I think BCM is in a complete class of its own. Over the course of the past few years BCM has managed to bring in some massive world class talent and obviously through our Speakerbox residency we have secured some absolutely, ridiculously huge artists. You walk into BCM and the first thing that hits you is that soundsystem. That soundsystem is literally world class and one of the best that I have played on around the world. The way that the club is set up it is just one all-inclusive price – so it is not like some of these places where you have got to pay €90 to get in and another €20 to get a drink. It is just that one price. The whole thing is set up for that knowledgeable clubber to go there, have a good time, listen to some good music and have a really memorable experience.Q. Have you been out partying in Magaluf before and how does the vibe compare to back home in Britain?A. I think when people are abroad, people’s inhibitions are a little bit lower, they are a little less guarded so people are watching less about what other people think about them and they are thinking more about having a good time. I have noticed that in Ibiza, I have noticed that in Mallorca and I have noticed that in a lot of resorts that British people go to.The other thing that is really interesting about BCM, Magaluf and Mallorca is that you get a real mix of European people. It is never a predominantly British crowd – there are Dutch and French people in there. There is a real blend – which is really interesting.Q. It is stacking up to be an absolutely sensational event!A. Absolutely. I am really looking forward to it. We have put a lot of work in over the last few years for what the Speakerbox brand does in Mallorca. It looks very different the thing we are doing in Mallorca to the things we are doing in Ibiza, the kind of things we are doing at Creamfields and the thing we are doing at SW4. Speakerbox is all about quality music regardless of where it comes from so I am definitely looking forward to what is coming this summer.For more info on when Mistajam will be performing in Magaluf this summer check out our events calendar.For more info on Mistajam check out his official website belowClick here