The Classical Crossover: The DJ JazziJay’s story. 

Join our exclusive interview, as Jasmine shares insights into her classical background, being a black woman in the music industry and providing valuable life lessons for other gifted musicians like herself.

From honing her craft alongside different orchestras for hours as a child to blending mixes now as a DJ, JazziJay is now at the centre of her creativity. Step into her enchanting world of music as we uncover her incredible journey of classical symphonies to the pounding soundscape of the DJ world.

“In all the orchestras I said I was in, I was always the only black person. But in the DJ industry, I didn’t feel as alone. New challenges came with being a woman in the industry. It’s funny because I’ve had comments like people are only paying attention to you because you are pretty or just because you have a nice body. Even some people would claim they want to book me but they wanted more.”

Jasmine Adekola begins her story in the numerous orchestras she played in as a child. Accumulating a wealth of musical finesse, the DJ focuses on her favourite: Europe’s first professional British orchestra composed of predominantly ethnic minorities.

A: My favourite orchestra was Chineke! Orchestra. It is an all-black orchestra that I started after my mum heard them through the radio. It was so cool sitting in an orchestra and seeing people that look like you, with similar backgrounds.”

As we continue, Jasmine recollects receiving an oboe and viola on her 10th birthday which ignited her passion more into the classical scene. Due to her tenacity and diligence, she accepted a musical scholarship in secondary school. She didn’t know yet but soon this would be the start of the multitude of opportunities waiting for her.

A: I had so many opportunities. From 10 to 15, I played for the National Orchestra of Great Britain and it was fun like really fun. It was crazy seeing young kids, playing like Mozart, the same age as you and being so talented. Every year you had to audition again so it was very competitive. For me to get in I also had to get a Grade 5 as one of the requirements so I was training constantly.

I toured Venice with an orchestra and choir. So, for the musical scholars in my school, there would be this annual trip where they would choose who would go. We would play at loads of churches around Venice at midnight. It was soo hot but soo fun! You would go to churches, playing for the communities and we travelled on a tour bus around the city. We must have done around 9 destinations but it was super fun. I was probably around 16 then. 

Just being part of an orchestra even though you have a little bit to play, adds up to this huge massive sound. It was just 70 people coming together to make music and so surreal you could hear a pin drop. We had been working together on the piece we played for hours on hours and it finally paid off. It made me see that music is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

With years of experience underneath her belt within the classical scene, Jasmine’s enthusiasm continues to radiate as she discusses how her initial interest in music began.

A: I’ve always been a musical person, ever since I was really young. My family is very musical like we even have speakers in the toilets! There is music everywhere. They had been telling me for years to do it since my dad has his own radio show and I watched him DJ at a very young age, every Thursday. So I guess they wanted me to follow those works.

Yet again, the DJ surpasses expectations, refusing to confine herself to a single scene. Now, embarking on a new DJing journey, she openly embraces her new era. As she delves into her multifaceted role, she shares insights into the prominence of other black, female DJs dominating the scene and influencing her own signature style. 

Inspired by Uncle Waffles, another DJ making waves in the Amapiano scene with her vibrant mixes and crowd-pleasing dance moves, JazziJay draws motivation and reflects on Uncle Waffles’ influence.

A: What I learnt from her is that DJing is not only about selecting songs and mixing well, it’s a performance. They go see her, as a DJ, to perform. I like the way she interacts with the crowd and you can see she’s always enjoying herself.

People always tell me I have a signature style. They say I always mix house with Amapiano.  For example, I have mixed Lean On by Major Lazer with Amapiano. There’s a lot of garage in my mixes and when I mix them people are so shocked. My remixes are odd but they do work.

I feel like in the black community many people restrict themselves to certain genres like rap and trap because that’s what they deem acceptable to listen to. It’s one of the things that made me become a DJ in the first place- I was so tired of hearing the same songs all the time”.

After starting so young, Jasmine continuously exceeds expectations and perseveres. This strength is meticulously shown in her preparation and work/life balance. For the technical aspect, after consulting with her clients she creates a playlist ensuring smooth transitions and arrives 2 hours before her gig to ensure a thorough set-up.

A: With the emotional side, I don’t like to be distracted. Normally I listen to music the whole journey to my gig so it kind of gets me into the zone to party and enjoy myself. I like to practice a lot beforehand so I don’t have to think too hard when I’m there because I like to be in the moment. I get my friends to come and support me. Having a little entourage behind me gets me hyped.

I find it difficult at times especially because I have a day-to-day job, uni and then my hobby. It’s kind of an art form where you constantly need to practice once you start otherwise you’ll lose the techniques you’ve built over time. During the holidays that’s when I really get my grind on and start putting out mixes because that’s when I can practice.”

In reflecting on her progression, Jasmine grants invaluable advice towards her younger self. She emphasises how perfection is not always key and validates her hard work and patience. 

With her classical foundation and newfound venture, JazziJay focuses on her current endeavours and talks about her plans for the present.

A: I have a few mixes that will come out during this year and so far I’m booked for a gig in April but I’ll definitely have more bookings later in the year.

Soon Jasmine elaborates on her passion for her degree in psychology and excitement for future dreams and projects.

A: I want to do a master’s in neuroscience and graduate this year. My passion stemmed from my musical career and led me to question the psychological influences of music on our well-being and behaviour. Reading, ‘Musicians and Their Audiences Show Synchronized Patterns of Brain Activity’ by Emma Young gave me an insight into how musicians, and their audiences, show inter-brain coherence and how this can be used to predict the enjoyment of a piece of music. 

The ability of music to be able to cause heightened activity in certain key regions of the brain of both the performer and the listener fascinated me and led to my curiosity in the science underpinning this.

I want to be able to host my own event with other DJs who are on the rise and flown out for a gigs as well and perform on platforms like the ‘Boiler room’ and Aprtment life’. I just hope to gain more of a following as well and make sure DJ JazziJay is a household name.”

DJ JazziJay’s journey from orchestras to the vibrant world of gig performances just shows how musical beginnings can emerge from diverse origins. Transitioning from pulling strings on a viola to skilfully mixing unconventional tracks, she has proven herself to be a star in the making. Her versatility and passion for music evidently shine through her vigour and enthusiasm, showcasing that musical talent has no restrictions. Jasmine has continuously left a mark within the musical landscape as a black woman and will surely continue inspiring others with her dynamic approach to DJing.

Make sure you follow Jasmine on the platforms below for more updates!

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