Interview with Justin Wilkes from KISS FM

We interview KISS FM DJ, Justin Wilkes

Interview with Justin Wilkes from KISS FM

How did you become interested in DJing?

I caught a dance music show on my local radio station when I was 12 and loved the tunes. Then I saw the technics world mixing championships and saw the crazy stuff you could do with 2 turntables. I saved my paper round money for 9 months and bought my first set of decks. I pretty much spent the next few years locked in my bedroom practising what I'd seen the top scratch DJs doing until I could do all the tricks too.

How did you develop your DJ skills and get experience in this area?

Loads of practise. Listening to loads of music, learning all the tunes in my record box and more practise.

How did you get the job as DJ on Kiss FM?

I started out DJing in clubs while I was at university. That led to mixing shows for my local radio station in Birmingham. The station was run on a tiny budget and I ended up voicing a couple of ads for them which led to me presenting my own mix show. Within 6 months I was doing the breakfast show. Capital FM heard that show and signed me up to do their dance shows and 6 years later I bagged the morning slot on Kiss.

What does a 'typical' day look like for you (or what might your day consist of)?

I'm up at 6:30, in to Kiss for 7:30 to prepare the show and check all the new music that's arrived that day. I get around 150 tracks a week. I present my Kiss show from 9-12 with the Kisstory hour at 11am. After the Kiss show I head over to ITV and voice/script continuity for ITV4. Most days I will then either be in a studio session producing music or in to another TV channel like Eurosport to voice promos. If it's a Friday that's usually followed by 1 or 2 club gigs. Some days can be really long and its hard work, but very rewarding and enjoyable too.

Is there anything about being a DJ that challenges you?

You have to be extremely self motivated. You are your own brand and you only get out what you put in, so even if you're having a bad day you have to make sure you're on top form. You also need to make sure you're constantly positioning yourself with what's current and keeping up with what's cool and what's not cool.

Do you prefer live or radio DJing? What do you like about each?

I love both. I'm really lucky to have really good stakes in both Radio and Club land. Radio is a fantastic medium. Even though I have over a million listeners, it's a one to one medium where you are talking directly to somebody. It's incredibly satisfying to do a great radio show, to break new music and be a tiny bit of entertainment in someone's day. Live DJing is more instant. You drop a tune and you see 2000 people in front of you reacting. You can take the crowd on a journey and ride the set with them. I love both and it would be extremely difficult to choose a favourite.

What do you think the future of radio and broadcast is?

It's all about platforms and content. You can currently listen to my show on so many different platforms, both live and in catch-up. It's all about giving the listener as much choice as possible when it comes to consuming the brand. Soon FM radio will just be the hub that joins the dots between all the online and digital content.

Where do you see your career going from here?

I've still got lots of career goals. I've had a dance hit in the US but not in the UK so I'm hoping to change that in 2013.

What would your advice be to a young person interested in becoming a DJ?

Be prepared to work really hard. You have to network so much and if you want to make a career out of it you need to really want it. There's a lot of competition these days. Downloading the top 20 and playing them on your laptop just isn't enough to cut through. Radio wise you really need to be able to connect with people, and be great at online social networking too.


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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