We Are S.M.E

SME Meets NME DJ James Theaker by wearesme

James Theaker is one of the hottest young DJs around, working for NME, Skins, and Topman to name a few. We managed to pull him away from his hectic lifestyle and sit him down for a few drinks. Here’s what he has to say:

Mr. Theaker, first and foremost, thank you for your time. It’s been a while!

JT Yeah, it has been, hasn’t it.

SME We first met you when you DJ’d at one of our New Year’s gigs – no one would leave the dance floor (which did wonders for the toilet queue) – you also did another gig for us back in April and it was a similar story, describe the feeling when you see everyone vibing on the dance floor.

JT Thanks! Yeah it was a lot of fun. New Years is always great because there’s so many parties going on, I think I played at three last year and finished off at Vibe Bar with you guys. To be fair you can’t really go wrong at 6am on New Years morning, the people there are obviously the die hards!

SME Yeah, that’s so true! More recently though, in May, you and your colleagues at NME Radio won a Sony Records Academy Gold Award (there are also Silver and Bronze awards awarded in the same category) for your collaboration with Skins Radio and the nationwide tour – how was that for you?

JT Yeah that’s right, it was a real honour to win! Obviously it was an award for the whole team, including all the people at NME and Skins, so it was cool. But I didn’t get invited to the ceremony! What’s with that!! Hopefully I’ll get the chance to go back one day and do it properly. (hint)

SME Perhaps that thought you were too busy and couldn’t make it. Just like we didn’t make it to any of the Skins Tour parties that you DJ’d at, were they as debauched as those we saw on screen?

JT They are great parties definitely. But to be honest because they’re branded gigs there are a lot of TV fans there, and they aren’t necessarily massive party/ music fans as a lot just come to get a photo taken with the cast members. But outside of the groupies they’re generally pretty rocking, last year we did two weeks of gigs with about 2000 people every night.

SME Woah, that’s crazy, we can only begin to imagine the goings-on.What’s your opinion on the disposable nature of our generation’s music listening habits?

JT We’re certainly at a unique juncture in terms of patterns of consumption of popular music. I’m a radio plugger, so I work somewhere in the middle between the major record labels and radio stations like Radio 1, Kiss, & Capital. Do you use Shazam? That’s a really good indicator of what people are listening to and tagging each week and we reference that quite a lot. It keeps me really up to date.

SME Yeah we use Shazam loads, it one of our most-used apps! But, with so much new music being constantly churned out, do you ever find it difficult or feel pressurized to keep up?

JT (Laughs) Tell me about it.. I’m working across at least 10 major label campaigns as we speak!!

SME Blimey, that can’t be easy. But at least you must hear a lot of tune before they even get released, what was the last track you thought was shit and ended up being a club banger?

JT I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever thought a track was shit, but sometimes it can be surprising which tracks take off at radio/ in the clubs. I’m in quite a privileged position where I get to hear a lot of records really upfront, and then follow them along a campaign and cross them into the mainstream. Duck Sauce ‘Barbra Streisand’ and Yolanda Be Cool ‘We No Speak Americano’ are two recent examples of records that have surprised me with how well they’ve done. (No. 1 and No. 3 respectively.) I worked on both of those.

SME Haha, do you reckon it was your influence that got them so high in the charts then?

JT (Laughs) I wouldn’t say so!

SME So what’s your toughest gig played to date?

JT Good question! It would probably be when I once DJ’d in a strip club back when I was 16 and had to announce the strippers onto the stage.

SME What about your most enjoyable gig you’ve played?

JT I once DJ’d in a strip club when I was 16 and had to announce the strippers onto the stage!

SME Haha, you must have had a great view then! What future projects have you got lined up?

JT I’m lucky that I’ve always been generally quite busy no matter what I’ve been doing, radio presenting/ DJing/ radio plugging, so a combination of those at more or less the same rate as usual. I’m also studying law at night school. (Rock n roll I know!) Oh and Topman have just asked me to start presenting their online TV coverage of their Topman CTRL gigs around the country which is proving kinda fun. I just did the first one last week in Manchester before I went to Holland for the ADE music conference over the weekend!

SME Hey, where was our invite? Does this mean that we will see you getting involved in the production side of things and becoming a record releasing DJ a la Deadmau5 or Diplo?

JT Yeah I think so. Watch this space.

SME Cool, hopefully you can go on and murk the charts! On your Myspace you talk about your love of playing music from all around the world , where do your cultural influences come from?

JT Probably from my incredible parents who opened me up to a lot of music and places that your average teenager doesn’t get the chance to hear/ see. They were incredibly encouraging about me getting into music, and instilled my attitude of openness in me. Saying that I wouldn’t say I’m incredibly cultured as I don’t get a lot of time to do things like go to the theatre or museums or things like that!

SME Well, we guess that we can say you are musically cultured then! What is your favourite country that you have travelled to (and your aren’t allowed to say Ibiza like most DJs would)?

JT (Laughs) I wouldn’t have said that anyway, I would actually say that New York is currently my favourite city because of the amazing attitude to music that I’ve enjoyed there, but saying that I’m going to Tokyo over Xmas and New Year this year and I hear that’s going to blow my mind.

SME Yes, Tokyo is awesome! Don’t, expect to be able to read any road signs or train maps though! Give us a heads up on who you’re feeling at the moment?

JT Any of the artist campaigns I’m working on! Eric Prydz, Nero, Swedish House Mafia, Hadouken’s new album which is currently being made, plus RAM records are putting out some really exciting music that I’m fortunate to be working with them on, of course deadmau5 as well.

SME Funnily enough, we once featured in Hadouken’s original video for Liquid Lives but then the camera got broken and they had to re-shoot it. We took the hint. What are your tips for who’s gonna murk it in 2011?

JT Nero.

SME Ok, but we are going to come after you if he doesn’t! You’ve DJ’d alongside I Blame Coco, give us Coco Sumner’s number…please.

JT She was actually really quiet, if you called her I’m not sure she’d say a lot!

SME Maybe not, but we would have lots to say to her!

JT (Laughs)

SME Anyway, we will let you get back to your busy lifestyle now.

JT Cheers guys, always a pleasure!

SME No worries, dude. Take it easy.



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