Interview: MistaJam

Interview: Paul Klotschkow
Tuesday 10 March 2009
reading time: min, words

"I've played in clubs around the world but nowhere quite matches the atmosphere of The Bomb as it was."


From the humble beginnings of buying his first record in Arnold, to almost a decade at The Television Workshop, promoting one of UK hiphop's premier events and now being all over the BBC. It's a cliché, but MistaJam must me one of the hardest working men in showbusiness. If you name it he's probably done it. Starred in a TV soap? Check. DJed on Radio One? Check. Had a TV sitcom on the BBC? Check. Been interviewed by LeftLion? Check.

What’s your relationship with Nottingham?
It's my hometown and the place where I laid the foundations for my career, as well as the place I retreated to when my acting career went belly up! Capital One Sales RIP!

What do you get up to when you are back in the city?
I come back to Nottingham to either see my friends and family or do a DJ gig which are both great reasons to come home. It's been a long time since I had a night out in Notts and everything seems to have changed, even in the 18 months since I moved away.

Any memorable nights out in Nottingham?
My most memorable nights were the events I was involved with over the years. Whether it be UK Takeover, KRS One at Rock City or DJ Premier at Stealth; they all have a special place in my heart! That and when I managed to get thrown out of World Service restaurant!

Nottingham has had some bad rep in the national press over the past few years, what's your view on this?
Nottingham is about the size of a London borough so the statistics will always make it look like things are worse than they actually are. Don't get me wrong though, Notts has got some serious problems - as has any British inner city in 2009. The major issue that gets me though is that I think that there isn't enough happening there to work on the root causes of the problems. Youth centres, youth projects and alternative education projects are being starved of cash and are not being allowed to do the jobs that they have already proven that they can do. The huge Market Square refurbishment a couple of years ago looks lovely, but a quarter of the money that was spent on that could have funded many projects that could have made a real difference to people's lives.

How did the Television Workshop prepare you for your many future careers?
The thing that Ian Smith (the workshop leader) really instilled in us was the importance to keep your feet on the ground and that's something that I carry round with me today. In the entertainment industry, you're always encountering over-inflated egos and people who went to stage school when they were young seem to have the biggest - especially people who went to a certain performing arts school in Croydon! You can always tell an ex-workshopper because no matter what kind of success they have, they're always the most grounded people.

Did you attend the workshop with anyone famous?
A good few people, because I was in the workshop from the age of seven until I pretty much was kicked out when I got too old. My paths crossed with Samantha Morton, James Hooton, the infamous Shauna and Andrew Shim and Toby Kebbell is a good friend, or at least he was when I last spoke to him a couple of years ago. It was really weird watching the same mate you helped move into a flat in Radford on a cinema screen and he really deserves his success - he's worked hard and immersed himself into the roles. There's a small ex-workshop contingent in London and Rich Castillo, who's now a top flight music manager, keeps threatening to organise a mass get together, so hopefully I'll get to see everyone soon. Maybe for my stag night later this year…

You played Minty the Chef in the second series of Crossroads. Do you have any juicy gossip you can share about the cast members?
It was eight years ago now, so I can't remember any of the juiciest gossip! There were a good few nights out in Nottingham and usually most of the cast would end up in Bar Schnapps way past closing time making complete tits of themselves. However I've never been a big drinker so I was the one in the corner laughing at them all. There were a couple of inter-cast pregnancy scares, but that's all I'm saying.

Do you still act? If so, what have you been in recently?
I was in the BBC Three and now BBC Switch sitcom Trexx and Flipside that we filmed early last year, but I've pretty much given up acting for the foreseeable future. I really want to focus on my broadcasting career but that doesn't mean I'd never act again, as I still want to do a film. I've pretty much done every other discipline: TV drama, sitcom, soap, radio drama, serious theatre, a West End musical etc. But I'm also probably the only member of my generation of the workshop that hasn’t been in a Shane Meadows film!

What was it like DJing at The Bomb back in the day?
It was a really good experience. I've played in clubs around the world but nowhere quite matches the atmosphere of The Bomb as it was. From the temperature, that could go from freezing to boiling in 30 seconds (depending on how many people were in there), to the smell of the broken toilets and sewage from downstairs, right down to the amazing sound system. I wish I had enough money to bring the place back as it was.

You seem to do a load of stuff for the BBC (1xtra, Radio 1, Switch). How did you get such a sweet job?
I guess it was a mixture of hard work, perseverance, talent and a huge amount of luck.

Which of the BBC DJs has the best moves on the dancefloor?
Annie Mac can handle herself on the dancefloor. I've seen her at a few Radio 1 and 1Xtra Christmas parties!

How did the UK Takeover events start?
They started when my good friend Joe Buhdha and I got so sick of travelling to hiphop nights across the UK and saw that the crowd was so divided. You'd go to one place and it would be nothing but white kids, go to another, nothing but black kids - but the music would be the same. We wanted to do something that would bring the old school ‘everyone's welcome’ hiphop spirit back and also bring together the biggest names in the UK under one roof. Hence the UK Takeover started and grew to be the biggest "urban" event of it's kind in the country. As for my involvement; it was pretty much me, Buhdha and Ed who ran the whole thing, so I was involved in nearly every aspect of every event from putting together the bills to paying the bills that followed!

When can we expect the next UK Takeover?
We're all really busy with other things so I don't know. Until they do it, people have no idea how much hard work and time it takes to put together an event like that.

You always seem to be working, how do you like to relax?
I like to do really boring things in my house like cleaning, reading or watching crap on the internet or going to B&Q or Homebase. I'm crap at DIY though. I once put up a shelf that proceeded to fall and hit my fiancée on the head. I just like looking!

Do you have any music tips for 2009?
My big music tips for 2009 are Kid Cudi and Master Shortie, who I think are coming with some really interesting and genre defying stuff. I also think 09 is the year for Dubstep and Funk to dent the national charts. From Nottingham, Ronika should hopefully do well. I'm hearing what she's cooking up in the studio with my very good friend Joe Buhdha and it will surprise a lot of people. Also, if Scorzayzee is reading this - the hiphop game needs you to come correct in 2009!

What was the last book you read?
Danny Wallace's Friends Like These. It really made me want to find out my old school friends too and thanks to the wonder that is Facebook, I have done.

What was the first record you bought?
Nu Shooz I Can't Wait in 1986 when I was three. I remember my mum taking me to WH Smith in Arnold to buy it. I've always been into music!

What was the last record you bought?
Luther Vandross’ Better Love. Everyone needs a little Luther in his or her lives

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
My fiancée reckons I should be able to stop time as I'm always late but I'd love to be able to speak any and every language. Be able to travel the world and speak to them in their native tongue and even speak to animals such as my puppy and tell him to stop pissing on the floor. That would be great.

Anything else to say to LeftLion readers?
If you're an artist or a band, send me music! I hardly get anything from my Nottingham people and I know first hand how much talent is there so reach out to me! Contact details are on my website.

Mista Jam's website


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