We talk to BBC 1Xtra Presenter, Jamz Supernova, ahead of the first regional tour of her club night, Future Bounce. Aside from her sick parties, we discuss the tour’s role in increasing accessibility in the industry. The good news is, it seems the internet, a strong DIY scene, new initiatives for women in music and, yes, things like Future Bounce are making the scene more accessible than ever.
Future Bounce travels to Birmingham, London, Southampton and Bristol, on a project of welcoming, scene shifting music. With a mixture of local and national acts on each bill, it’s a perfect setting for creative cross-pollination, supporting the local scene while exposing intimate audiences to larger acts. Jamz explains, “It’s Jarreua Vandal’s first time playing in Bristol, but he won’t be playing in The Love Inn next time, not in that capacity.”
[If] that person has 20 followers, or 10 or 20,000 or whatever, I’ll play it.
Jamz has made her name as a top selector, putting her success down to honesty: “I genuinely pick what I like. For the radio if I like a song and that person has 20 followers, or 10 or 20,000 or whatever, I’ll play it. People who have pluggers have money to have a plugger, other people still need space.” By giving airtime to talent over trends, as well as pro-actively searching for new music, she levels the playing field for artists trying to make a break, with Future Bounce the latest extension of her philosophy.
Despite her efforts to make a difference, she has a humble relationship with her audience: “If I’m going to be on a station like the BBC, which is a public service, I do my duty to be a public servant”. Meanwhile she confidently puts forward artists she believes in. Ted Jasper may not be that well-known in Bristol, but after he directly emailed her his music, she’s been happy to help build his following. With this grassroots approach, she can’t help but bring fresh and inspiring curation.
Speaking more broadly about access, we move on to the impact of the DIY scene, how “the world’s your oyster through your phone.” Coming of age around the death of TV, Jamz has seen many avenues like Freshly Squeezed, and T4 shut down, while YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify have grown. She sees this as a positive thing, as the DIY scene allows people to create whatever they want. Her interview series DIY Generation is all about showing people what they can do and guiding them through it. “Everyone on DIY generation is a normal people, no stage school, just people who started something.”
The flooding of online platforms also means you have to be extra special to stand out, an area where branding becomes so important. She asserts that only 10% of an artist is down to the actual music, with bands needing to become their own little labels. “No one will hear your talent if you don’t know how to market it.” In her eyes this pushes bands to form a more cohesive idea of who they are and what they’re all about: “If you’re the kind of artist who is already thinking about marketing, branding, how you’re going to release music, then you’re already miles ahead of people.” Having to wear multiple hats ultimately means you end up with more control, something that is crucial in avoiding misrepresentation.
On a grass roots level, this is our way of taking control.
This has big implications for diversity, and we move on to talk about her work for women in music. Jamz regularly speak on panels about diversity and gender including at Bristol Women in Music’s ‘Sound Industry’ conference at Colston Hall earlier this year. She also hosted one of Redbull’s ‘Normal not Novelty’ events, and runs women’s networking night, FLEXX. In contrast to a seemingly regressive attitude in world affairs at the moment, she explains how “on a grass roots level, this is our way of taking control.”
With Saffron Records, She Said So, Girls Rock London and many others breaking on the scene, we discuss why there’s been a sudden explosion of female music organisations. “Maybe older ladies, they didn’t want to start a FLEXX or a Saffron Records because they didn’t want to rock the boat and they just worked so hard to get there in the first place. Maybe because we have so many powerful female artists around us, we’ve had such a good blueprint.” Again, it seems the internet is a great benefit to our generation with Jamz reflecting on how women in music have pushed through. “We don’t think about being female, we just do what we do. Even just go on Instagram and you have inspiration of people accepting themselves. People on a grassroots level are inspiring each other.”
We don’t think about being female, we just do what we do.
I ask if these organisations are having a real impact on bookers’ attitudes, to which Jamz is positive: “I do feel like clubs are consciously looking to book more female DJs, I just think it needs to be done more. It’s about calling people out and trying to your bit as well. When I’m doing my show, if I have three males in a row, I need to break it up with a female voice.”
Despite differing challenges, Jamz also has some great overall advice on working in the industry. Having spoken on numerous panels, she’s noticed one common thread in successful people: a total self-belief that gets you through the low spells. Patience is another one: “Things happen when they’re meant to happen, just not when you want them to happen”. And lastly, “Some things don’t work out, don’t take it personally, just control what you can control. Mindset, patience, focus on what you can control, and all the rest will follow.”
Jamz will be headlining Bristol’s Future Bounce at The Love Inn, 10th November, along with other acts Jarreua Vandal, Wize, Ted Jasper and Beth Sheldrick (BWIM). Expect a very rowdy night, tunes at 130bpm, and loads of remixes.
Check out a mix from Beth Sheldrick below: