Jason George, better known by his stage name DJ Kid J, went from a hip-hop dance group, to meeting the likes of Drake and Beyoncé.
Most DJs have unusual stories of how they came to get themselves in the booth and mixing tracks.
And DJ Kid is no different, with his job playing a big part in his first foray into music.
“I got into DJing as I was the only one in our dance group at the time working,” he said. “So I was able to buy some music equipment for us.
“Because I had the equipment, I kept practising in my spare time and got into it that way purely because it was there, so I thought I might as well try it.
“It was difficult at first. You have to remember there were no computers or CDs so it was old school, we just had two turntables, vinyl records and a mixer, so you had to focus on listening to be able to mix tracks together.”
Music is something that Jason feels has been a part of him since he was a kid as he has always wanted to be involved in the industry.
His first job was working for Atlantic Records as part of their street team for the East Midlands.
“I was promoting the artists and supporting them at their shows, so this was a great opportunity to meet people.
“The list is endless of celebrities I’ve had the chance to meet – Jay Z, Wiley, and J Cole for example.”
“Only illegal radio stations would play black music”
DJ Kid J also worked on the radio with shows on the likes of Radio2Funky and DemonFM.
“I don’t do radio anymore as the club scene is too much,” he explained. “I liked doing both though.
“I’ve done many illegal radio stations. They were a big thing because back in the day, they were the only radio stations that would be playing black music consistently, so compared to now, that’s huge.”
DJ Kid J had his first club performance in his hometown Leicester at Marz Bar after handing out his mixtape to various venues around the city.
Now he performs all around the country, as well as touring internationally.
And he claims his career success is all down to a Facebook group.
“My favourite city to perform in is Pryzm in Birmingham,” he said. “I go there on Tuesdays and Saturdays but it is always going to be busy on a Saturday. I enjoy that as it’s the main commercial club to go to in the city.
“I got the job at Pryzm by joining a Facebook page called In DJs We Trust, which is a collective group of professionals who are looking for people to cover their gigs.
“I discovered Pryzm through an opportunity as a guy that was originally performing there couldn’t do a specific gig, so I offered to cover it. After I did it, I found out he couldn’t do the gig permanently, so they offered it to me as they wanted to keep me on.”
Old school classics
To prepare for these type of sets, DJ Kid J’s ‘go to’ tip to get the crowd going is with old school classics.
He said: “You can’t fail with old school. My go-to track is Cameo’s Candy as everyone dances to that 80s song, so you have your key classic tracks as well as the newest ones.”
With his own music taste being centred around hip-hop and R&B, Jason says he has seen the transformation of the genre go downhill.
“Hip-hop music has dominated the music scene for a while now,” he explained. “I think people enjoy it but it has changed – and I feel it’s changed for the worse.
“Some of the artists in the charts are just anybodies that don’t have talent or skills. I think Migos or anyone with Lil in their names like Lil Pump or Lil Uzi have no skill compared to older legends like Tupac.”
Even though Jason is not a fan, his crowd is, which makes adding these artists to his set list even harder.
“It really used to annoy me,” he said. “I hated playing their songs but you get swept along with the wave because everyone is reacting to it so you start to as well.
“Even though you feel as if you are enjoying it, you catch yourself again and I remember that’s not what it’s all about.”
Has the clubbing and urban music scene really changed that much? He explains that going to the club is no longer about dancing in this generation anymore.
“People used to go out and enjoy vibing to the music and dancing, now they go to grab girls or boys stand in big groups with their friends, which can be off-putting. I think it used to be so much more friendly.
“I think people want to go to the club to look as if they’re doing something rather than actually doing it. Back in the day, they’d enjoy the whole song rather than just a clip of it.
“I put a song on now and people jump to 10 seconds of the chorus and then stand for the rest of the song. They go mad for one bit, but I just find this amusing.”
As well as his performances at events and clubs, Jason also trains future talent through his DJ Kid J Teaching Academy.
“We go into schools where kids have been excluded or have bad behaviour and we teach them how to DJ,” he explained.
“A lot of the time they like music and use it as a tool to get them back on track, but it’s a way for me to give back to the youth too. It’s a way of steering them into a field that catches their eye when they’re into music and dancing.”
Jason’s top tips to be successful in the music industry and as a DJ are to be dedicated, to have good communication skills and to understand the business side.
“Maintaining good relationships with management and clubs is so important,” he said. “You have to come across as professional.
“Managers will respect you and pay you if they know you’re reliable.
“Social media also plays a major part in promoting yourself. Remember it’s your job so posting on Facebook and Instagram is necessary.”
You can find DJ Kid J on Twitter at @dj_kid_j.