by Tom Sanders and Piers Paul Read
In 2017, artist Jason Jules was crowned the world’s best DJ. We went behind the scenes of the talented DJ’s long journey to DJ dominance
He found it easy to play elsewhere in London but in an unexpected place, he found his moment. “I get a call from someone at Eventihub to see if I’d like to move to Dublin to play a summer of festivals. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, just that it was something new to go and play in a city I’d never been before,” he says.
“The people who would come to see me knew me from the EDM stuff I’d been doing over the past few years, they’d just switched to seeing me as a hip-hop show, to see me do my own remixes of rap tracks. I just hadn’t really shown them that.”
Jason says he went into the gig not thinking he could do much wrong. “I wanted to DJ as well as feature, show people what I was capable of,” he says. “It was one of those shows where I made the most right decisions I possibly could.”
New scenes and new music form the basis of the project, but an underlying thread runs through each collection – the pain of old and past pain. In “Black Ivy Style”, which accompanies the new book, Jason writes that’s he found healing in DJing and DJing gave him a sound. He tells the story of the person inside and behind the record he loved. “I was drawing them out just until I lost interest. Then I just went through all my junk, put them in a suitcase and got rid of them,” he says. “I wouldn’t have done that if I’d stayed with them in the beginning. To me, they were just a load of junk.”
The stripped-back arrangements and diverse mixes on the record leave you wanting more. Jason says the relentless schedule he’s kept in the industry means everything’s todo list is long. “You have to be constantly chasing gigs, wanting to always put your shows together, always looking for inspiration. When you play a show, that’s where you come in and change a few things, it’s as simple as that. You can’t look away, you can’t stop making money.”
Though he doesn’t use a computer or do any of the programming he uses while making records, he finds DJing to be a lot like performing live. “It’s all about keeping your energy up and staying on your feet, making sure that you don’t get tired or aching,” he says. “It’s constantly moving, and being on edge at all times.”