A Legend In Training – Interview w/ MistaJam
MistaJam is a talented individual. He learned to spin some tunes on the decks in his teens and was attending clubs at a young age. Too young in fact. He has starred in TV shows due to his connection with Nottingham’s ‘The Television Workshop‘ which has developed the talents of actress Samantha Morton, renowned director Shane Meadows and my incredibly talented cousin, the filmmaker and part-time wizard Jack Curtis.
He has grown through the ranks of BBC Radio 1Xtra to the now point of total fame. He knows his tunes, he knows how to broadcast and he still has aspirations. Pete Dalton is MistaJam and he – at the time of this interview taking place – is in Ibiza for the BBC Radio 1 Ibiza Weekend.
As I continue my quest to get all of the big names in the UK dance music scene who are performing at this years Strawberry Fields Festival – more interviews here – the man himself takes a few minutes out to tell me about being an influence, developing talent and never being ID’d:
Congrats on your new slot. That’s what dreams are made of right?
Yeah, yeah, definitely! I’ve grown up listening to Radio 1 and you know, the DJs that helm that 7pm slot on Radio 1 are absolute legends. Whether it be Zane [Lowe] or Annie [Mac] or currently Trevor [Nelson] or even myself on 1Xtra hahaha! “A legend in training” I suppose, I would refer to myself. But you know, being able to broadcast at that time slot, to that audience and kind of show them the kind of stuff that it is that I do on 1Xtra across the course of the week is not only a dream come true, but it’s an absolute honour. To be succeeding Trevor Nelson who since I joined 1Xtra in 2005 has been a real key supporter, mentor, and he’s just offers me so much advice whether it be something that I was worried about, wondering about, or wondering how things went. You could always ask Trevor. He is an absolute legend and long may he continue to be on BBC Radio 1Xtra during the day.
Having the goal to get to where you are now did you think it may be difficult for a young Nottingham lad in ‘The Television Workshop’, or do you think being in that environment gave you the confidence to get to where it is you wanted to go?
I never really thought that I’d be able to do the job that I do at the moment. I think ‘The Television Workshop‘ definitely helped in the development in my character and the fact that I am able to communicate to so many different people in so many different ways. Not necessarily language, but I grew up in a council estate area but going to the Workshop, going to the school that I went to meant that I was exposed to all kinds of different people. That helped to develop my social skills, I suppose. So yeah, The Television Workshop helped with my confidence and also communication. I never really expected to get where I’ve managed to get to but I am over the moon that I have. I definitely wanted to but I never really thought that it was going to happen but it has so I’m very happy.
Have you fond memories of the club called ‘The Bomb’ on Bridlesmith Gate in Nottingham? (Sadly the club has closed it’s doors)
I do have fond memories. I was a resident there on a night called ‘Bring The Noise‘ in the early noughties. I actually started at the point where I wasn’t legally allowed to go into the clubs but still did and to be honest, I’ve never been ID’d! So I’ve been very lucky in that respect. ‘The Bomb‘ was definitely a special place. I remember vividly the 1Xtra launch night. I remember DJ Semtex being on the decks and playing an acetate copy of ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp‘ by Dizzie [Rascal] and it absolutely going off. I remember ‘The Bomb‘ was always a carnival of smells from the amount of smoke that was in the air. The air was thick, there was sweat dripping off the walls and it was always quite hot and dense in there. Especially when the toilets flooded and overflowed.
I think that I may recall you dropping X-Press 2’s ‘Smoke Machine’ – who are also performing at SFF – read their interview here – on a particular night that I saw you there and the warbling basslines were just immense! But that was quite a small and let’s say, an intimate kind of club. Is it not all big tents and venues now? Like the Strawberry Fields Festival which you’re closing on the Sunday night this weekend.
I don’t think it is all big tents and venues, I think there still quite a lot of intimate clubs and a lot of the big clubs if you think there’s only a finite number of headliners that you can have that would be able to sell an amount of tickets that would justify that big club booking. So you know, me personally I love being able to play festivals, I love being able to play clubs. It’s definitely a mixture for me. I think the small club definitely has a part to play in terms of nurturing and directing the next set of new talent. I think there are some amazing small clubs in Nottingham and also amazing big clubs in Nottingham. To be honest, I need to play in Nottingham and the East Midlands a little bit more. I love the fact that there is such a diversity.
I’m really looking forward to playing at the Strawberry Fields Festival, my wife is from Leicester and I’m a Nottingham lad. It’s definitely something I’ve been looking forward to for months.
You tend to go in cold don’t you? Meaning you have no preparation before a gig and you just go in and read the crowd. Would you say that you always nail it?
I wouldn’t say that I always nail it. I try to read the crowd rather than going in there with a pre-programmed, kind of pre-planned set. I wouldn’t say that I always nail no but I always try to.
You’ve been bouncing between the UK and Ibiza a lot as well as doing your regular radio slot on BBC Radio 1Xtra every weekday evening. Is it not about time you had a holiday with your family?
I am currently on holiday! – After hearing this particular response my heart sinks, my palm meets my face and I’m filled with guilt as I was told he was away in Ibiza for the Radio 1 Ibiza Weekend. NOT having some R&R.
Being on the radio you’ve got the ability to influence people. You’ve influenced people to buy records, go to gigs and I know for a fact that you’ve influenced young people to take up the decks. Is that part of your character, would you say?
I don’t know if being an influence is part of my character. I’ve always been someone who marketeers refer to as an “Early Adopter”. I like to be up on new things, I like to be up on things relatively new. I love the ability that I have to be able to influence people but with great power comes great responsibility.
Did you influence Knife Party to get you onto ‘Sleaze’ or was it them that approached you? I bet that was just an amazing honour being as they are now regarded to be heavyweights in their game.
Knife Party approached me. We were over at the Snowbombing Festival a couple of years ago and I ended up emceeing for Skream, Jackmaster and Artwork when they were doing a disco set and I came out with “Until they kick us out, people move your feet“. I got a tap on the shoulder and it was Rob and Gareth and at that point they were playing their last few shows as Pendulum. I’d known them for a few years and we kind of hooked up at various clubs, gigs and festivals and because they heard me say that they said that it was definitely a hook,
“You need to remember it! We need to get into the studio together and put it on a track.”
So I recorded it onto my phone, so I wouldn’t forget it. A couple of months later I managed to record it for them and I sent it over. I didn’t get the chance to get into the studio unfortunately. Didn’t have chance, didn’t have time, so I sent it to them. The first time that I heard it was when they played it live from Space, Ibiza for Radio 1’s Ibiza Weekend when they made their debut as Knife Party.
Did you not have any influence with regards to the production of it at all then? This is a path that you wish to go down with your Speakbox project, is that right?
The production was all them. I just provided the vocal for them which is why it’s a feature. I’d love to get into the studio with them and to make some music. Making music is something that I’ve always done and something which I will be definitely going back to at some point this year. I did quite a lot of things a few years ago but nothing really got released and it is something I am definitely considering. I think Speakerbox is definitely a vehicle from which I can release my own productions from but to be honest, the idea about Speakerbox is about nurturing talent, developing talent, and creating an experience where anything goes musically. The events that we’ve been doing have all been set up to do that. The compilation album that recently came out was set up to do that and that is what the label is all about as well – check out a teaser below.
I’m more interested in developing people and not necessarily pushing myself forward as an artist. However, watch this space because there will be some more productions coming soon.
Is there nothing left for Pete Dalton to achieve?
There are lots and lots and lots left for me to achieve which is why I hope to have as long a career as those people who I am surrounded by. My ultimate goal is to still be doing this and to still be relevant in like 20 – 25 years time and there’s no reason why that that should be the case! Fingers crossed.
See you on Sunday!
He’s a man who definitely has his head screwed on. He has focus, drive and still has a hunger for doing new things despite achieving so much already. Pete Dalton is a humble man who hasn’t forgotten where he has come from and knows where he is going. He is a confident man, has a great taste in music and he even has a few minutes to take some time out for a short interview piece whilst he is on holiday! And yes, I’ll no doubt catch him this Sunday at the Strawberry Fields Festival so that I can shake his hand and also apologise to him face-to-face for disturbing his Summer vacation! But hey ho. He didn’t have to take the time out but he did, which was incredibly gracious of him.
His great taste in music is displayed in the recent release in which he spoke of: ‘MistaJam Presents Speakbox‘. The album is quite simply: “The UK dance music compilation album of the Summer“. It has established chart toppers, rising talent and lots and lots of party vibes. Artists include: Disclosure, Ray Foxx, Klangarussell, Rudimental, Wretch 32, Jessie Ware, Iggy Azalea, Naughty Boy, Show N Prove and Sub Focus to mention a few.
MistaJam may go into his gigs cold and unprepared, but in general he is warm and now he has definitely nailed it. Just like most, if not all, of his sets.
‘MistaJam Presents Speakerbox’ is out now released by Universal Music TV
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