- Yuriy Gurzhy
I got my first radio DJ-ing gig at University as Head of Late Night Music for Oxygen 107.9FM in Oxford. It was the UK’s first full-time, student-run FM radio station, and I was in charge of airtime five hours a night, seven days a week.
I used to present my own show, Two Percent Jazz, with friends and fellow music heads Jim Giles and Arnab Chatterjee: it was as close as we could get to Gilles Peterson, our common hero. We played jazz, global hip-hop, brazilian, mashups and everything else we could get our hands on.
We set up a weekly club event, Umbrella - the Sunday Social, in Oxford as a collective with artists and DJs.
The next year I was in Russia, and got a spot at 106.8FM, Moscow. I was playing every Sunday at Propaganda, a legendary Moscow club, and every Thursday was a guest from 8-10pm.
From there, I began to take DJ-ing more seriously. Back in London, we set up Radio Gagarin, a long-running celebration of all things Central and Eastern Europe at the infamous Notting Hill Arts Club, and I began to get international bookings too: as part of the Shtetl Superstars Sound System, an offshoot of the Shtetl Superstars band with Berlin DJ Yuriy Gurzhy, and as a solo DJ, armed with a bag of records, my trumpet and a KAOSS pad.
I had been making mixtapes since my school days (mostly hip-hop, soul, funk and jazz), and started making mixes like the East End Dancefloor Explosion mix above.
DJ-ing taught me a lot about music - how to read a crowd, how to feel the energy in a room, how to build tempo slowly over time. I still use a lot of the lessons learned in DJ-ing in live performance now, no matter what kind of show it is.