Having recently played with drummer Russell Cowie (a.k.a Bongo Russ) in Beach Break Live, the largest student festival in the UK, Jamie Ings is taking his DJing skills in new and interesting directions. Impressed by his DJing not only at Beach Break, but also with the likes of Calvin Harris in Southampton, I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to ask him about the famous faces he’s mingled with, his inspirations and his surprising roots in classical music.
N: Hi, Jamie! How’s everything going?
J: Everything is going great thanks, Nicola. Somewhat bleary eyed since Beach Break, but recovering slowly but surely following some much needed sleep!
N: Really enjoyed coming down to see the set at Beach Break. I’d visited the tent your set was in a few times over the course of the week. When you were DJing, it was the busiest I’d seen it so far. What do you think it is about your DJing style that attracted people?
J: That was the third year I have played for Beach Break and it just gets better and better. The first year I played alone and in the Red Bull promotions vehicle that they use at large scale events, and then this year and last year I played alongside my best friend and quality drummer Russ. He plays percussion alongside my DJing which gives the act something a little different and makes it slightly more visually exciting (he’s also much better looking than me). I think that’s one thing that certainly draws a crowd, and also we tailor what we do for the crowd, which in this case meant playing a lot of my own remixes and bootlegs of known tracks. Students tend to enjoy dancing to tracks they know, so this is what I attempted to deliver.
N: How do you feel the DJ set that night went overall? Bet it was a bit weird to see everyone dancing around with inflatables! Had to lose them afterwards to avoid looking very out of place in any other dance tent!
J: We thought it went really well. I don’t plan my sets in advance, as I think it’s important to be able to read the crowd. Fortunately, the crowd we had were pretty open minded and even went for it when I tried the more adventurous tunes.
When you get to play in a variety of places, one of the disadvantages is the fact that you often look into a crowd of strangers (although this is nice sometimes!) but playing at Beach Break meant I was able to look up to see loads of people I knew amongst the people I didn’t, and that was nice. We also had quite a short set time of just 45 minutes, but, fortunately, the act on after us were late so we ended up going for over an hour. This meant we really got to get into the swing of it and enjoy ourselves.
The inflatables were courtesy of Thebigchoice.com who were promoting their firm at the festival. The director is a good friend of ours and we owed him a scratch on the back for being a legend and cooking a BBQ for us the night before.
N: Who did you enjoy the most out of all the Beach Break acts? Were there any artists there who you feel don’t get enough support or any that you consider over-rated?
J: My highlight was definitely Fake Blood. After playing under a different name (DJ Touche) for years, he released some tracks under the Fake Blood guise to be anonymous, but the tracks did so well he ditched the Touche alias and started again. He plays similar stuff to me a lot of the time and he really delivered at Beach Break. Other highlights for me were: Chase and Status, Jack Beats, The Correspondents and, of course, Calvin Harris!
As for acts that didn’t get enough support, I was really disappointed to see that Andy George and Jaymo (from Radio 1) didn’t get a crowd in the main dance tent. They’re great DJs and producers but they were on too early I think. I don’t really think there were any over-rated acts playing this year, although we met the Futureheads backstage and they were planks.
N: Did you meet any interesting faces back-stage? I noticed an entrance into the VIP area next to the main stage- did you get a chance to mingle with anyone famous?
J: Haha, well I met the Futureheads, as I just mentioned and I met Beardyman who was a good lad. Other than that, the VIP area was generally full of press and was just a nice place to go and get free Red Bull. All the main stage acts tend to stay in their tour busses otherwise they get mobbed by the press. Russ, my drummer, had a chat with Plastician after his set, but I dread to think how that discussion ended.
One stand out backstage moment was on Wednesday night. Red Bull had set up some decks backstage and whilst their DJ was playing, Example turned up and did some MCing. It was amazing to watch, but mainly because he was completely binned.
N: Not too long before Beach Break, you did another DJ set at Junk with the amazing Calvin Harris. What was that like? Is he one of the biggest names you’ve played with?
J: That was great fun, a really enjoyable night, as most nights playing at Junk are. He’s certainly one of the biggest names I’ve played with, but I have been quite lucky in the past and have been given some great opportunities to play with some big names. There was a great atmosphere that night and I certainly won’t be forgetting it in a hurry!
N: You were one of a grand total of the eight DJs at the last ever Kinki. How did that go?
J: The last Kinki was a great night although my memory is somewhat misty. It was nice to see Kinki go out with a bang and I look forward to seeing what comes next!
N: Were you tempted to try something really unusual and throw everyone off guard, or were you just happy to play the crowd-pleasers associated with Kinki that worked so well?
J: Well I play house and electro, and whilst I am happy to tweak my sound to suit the crowd, I’m pretty stubborn about playing cheese and a lot of charty music. So I just played the stint of the night that was dancey and it worked well (I hope!). I must say, I was tempted to play some ‘hardcore Belgian underground drum and bass techno-devil-core’ but DJ Starkie wouldn’t let me.
N: Haha! That would have been pretty different to typical Kinki tunes! I now want to ask a bit more about your musical background and future plans. How did you first get into the music scene?
J: Actually, I’m classically trained and even came from choir boy status to begin with! Both my parents are classical musicians by profession and my brother is now a music teacher. At the age of about 13 I decided that DJing looked quite cool. I really liked the ministry of sound CDs that my older brother and sister used to play in their rooms, so I bought some vinyl decks and split the cost with them. I kept at it right until university and then, as soon as I was old enough to play in clubs, started to push myself into DJ booths as much as possible. I would play any gig I was given- I’m sure if the opportunity arose I would even have been willing to spin some tunes in an old people’s home. My brother was the one who taught me the basics of DJing, so I have him to thank for that.
N: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
J: Wow, that is a difficult question! There’s a whole string of classical composers that I could name, but it would take forever so I won’t. In terms of DJs that got me into the scene, I have to hand it to the likes of Pete Tong, Judge Jules and nowadays the Swedish House Mafia, amongst loads of others. I like to think that Jamiroquai and Stevie Wonder also have an impact on the way I look at music now, but then that might just be me being pretentious!
N: Where do you plan on taking your musical talent in the future? What are your ambitions?
J: To break into the big time in the dance music scene nowadays, you have to be a producer. I’ve done some tunes and have released them but I’ve got a long way to go and that’s what I’m going to focus on next. I’m going to keep DJing as I love doing it and it gives me a great platform for escapism. In terms of ambitions, I just want to move into bigger and better venues, whilst not forgetting the smaller ones, as an intimate gig is great too. I’d also like to progress out of the UK, but that’s not going to happen overnight by any means.
N: That pretty much brings the interview to an end. Thanks for your time and all the best.
J: No problem; it’s been a pleasure!