He is known for his ninja style mixing skills and regular BBC Radio 1 mixes. Having spent this summer on a crazy, hectic tour playing at festivals and events globally, we got to catch up with the international man of mystery ‘Jaguar Skills’, asking him about his worldwide DJ tour, keeping his mixes fresh, of course music and who we should all be keeping an ear out for.
People refer to you as a man of mystery…what’s underneath the mask?
As a DJ you are known for making the most eclectic mash-up mixes, where have your
musical influences come from?
“I guess my Dad, he was a DJ too. He had a massive collection that really influenced me. He was into loads of different music. Also, growing up as a real hip-hop dude, there were loads of DJs who played all types of music in the scene. Peeps like DJ Spinbad, Yoda, DJ Biznizz, DJ MK…loads of people. I just took what they were doing and flipped it a little. All it is really is that music is like food. I love Wagyu beef steak and I love McDonalds too.”
You have such a unique mixing style and you describe your genre as “some ol’ super ninja funk shit” how did you develop your style over the years?
“Well, it’s just and old-school, hip-hop style, mixed in with some ol’ super ninja funk shit’ HA!”
I was lucky enough to see you perform at Ministry of Sound for your album launch last year and at Global Gathering this, both which were amazing sets. Do you prefer the clubbing gigs
or festival sets?
“Depends, I think maybe in a club you can get a little deeper with the music, but I love festivals. The energy is amazing when the crowd are great, usually the gig will be amazing. That’s how I judge it really. It’s all on the crowd.”
You were in control of the line-up for the Bollywood Tent on Sunday at Bestival this year,
how did you choose who was going to be on the line-up?
“Well, I really like to get a couple of dope new DJ’s and then some legends who I’ve always wanted to DJ with, and so far, everyone I have asked has said yes!”
How did it feel to have such a big input into Bestival?
“Really lucky. It’s just an amazing festival. I love everyone who works there and they’ve always treated me super well. So being asked to host a tent this year was a real highlight for me.”
As a DJ you get to tour all around the world any particular favourite spots/highlight gigs?
“Man, this year has been crazy. In terms of travelling, I did my first USA gigs this year, those were great fun. It’s cool to see other DJ’s spin in different countries too. It makes you pick up your game as a DJ. Also Japan this year was just great. I now have so many friends there, it feels like home from home. Global Gathering was incredible too. I was to DJ in the UK, USSR [sic] and Korea for them this year, and I’m always really honoured to do so, such a famous worldwide brand. But the gigs that really stood out for me, was Reading and Leeds festival. Those gigs were like a zoo, mental. As most of my gigs are super crazy anyway – you can imagine what these ones were like. Legendary stuff right there”
You are known for your mixes on Trevor Nelson’s show how do you keep them so fresh?
“I like to keep my ear to what’s happening right now for the mix. I try not to go too far ahead of what’s popping too. I think sometimes as a DJ you can get too involved with trying to predict the trend of music and maybe miss what’s happening right now. I mean, I leave that to other DJ’s. What I like to do is select a bunch of new tracks, and then throw in some old school fave’s of mine. If I have any dope, new acapellas then I whack those on top of the mix – at the end. I really try and make the basis of the mix super strong, then add all the special effects and stuff over the top. It’s like a cake, you back the cake first, you never do the icing before the cake.”
You’re known for your short mixes on Radio 1, what is the process you go through to find the best bits of a tune?
“Listening to them, really. I think making a short mix is a lot harder than making a long one, there’s so much more that could go wrong when making a short one. You could have too many tunes, it could sound too cluttered. It’s a real balancing act, trying to make something that’s actually technical, yet really listenable. I have found the mixes that work the best, are weirdly, the one’s that take me the least time to do. I work pretty quickly, and if I just make a mix in one take, those seem to be the ones that flow the best. When I take hours, fiddling around with a two-second section, those are kind of hard to listen too after a while. I guess the lesson here is to know when to stop messing around with the mix. Knowing when to stop is very important, I think.”
Do you have a tune that must be included in each one of your sets?
“Man, there’s a bunch of tunes I always seem to play. Some re-edits and stuff of mine that always seems to go into the record box. One that springs to mind, is a really grimey remix I did of Motorhead – ‘Ace of Spades’, it is really hardcore.”
When it comes to hip-hop mixes v dubstep/drum and bass sets do you have a preference?
“Right now, what excited me is electronic music. Bass music, dance, house whatever you want to call it, I dig it! For the past eight years, pretty much, I have only played that in my DJ sets. If there’s a cool hip-hop beat, or vocal or something that pops up, then I’ll throw that in too. I mean, I might spin some old school disco, or some rock or something into my sets too. I love ’90’s hip-hop, love it! But it’s something that I feel I can’t just play a whole set of - at my gigs, most people wouldn’t have a clue what I was spinning! This year, I’ve played pretty much 100 per cent house in Ibiza, 100 per cent bass music in the UK and USA and a mixture of both in Japan and the Far East. I really like to flip stuff up, but in a coherent way, without it sounding like it’s forced.”
Your most recent album is fantastic and still one of my favourite listens, you’re working on
your next album can you give us an inside scoop on what we can expect sound wise?
“Thanks. Hmmm, really if I was left to my own devices and had the time, I’d make a mixture of an old school De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, NWA album with a Prodigy, Chase & Status, Delta Heavy album with a touch of Roy Ayers, Gill Scot Heron and Dusty Fingers. One day I’ll make that. But, right now, I’ve finished a mix for Ministry of Sound in Oz – which sounds pretty nutty.”
Being so immersed in the DJ scene is there any upcoming DJ’s breaking through we should
be keeping an ear out for?
“DJ War, he’s dope. Zomboy is dope as hell. DJ Cabal, for that new-trap stuff, is dope. Delta Heavy are amazing, Urban Knights are great, there are loads and loads. My memory though is crap – too much ninja stuff going on in it my doctor tells me.”
What we can we expect from the Ninja next?
“A new fresh mix – Trevor Nelson Show – every Saturday at 8pm on BBC 1Xtra/Radio1. That’s my freshest stuff, and you can check it every week. Easy.”
Big thanks for your time and we can’t wait to hear more from you…
“MY PLEASURE!!!! HOOOOOooooooOOOOOOoOOOooOOOOO!!!!”
A special thank you to Jaguar Skills.
Written by ::: Nikita Chauhan
Twitter ::: @TheNikitaC