Pete Dalton, aka MistaJam is one of those talents that, right from a young age, seemed to be on a career path to success in whatever he did. Currently hosting national radio shows six times a week, he’s proven that he isn’t just a fantastic turntablist but also is a skilled broadcaster. Hosting a three hour multi-genre mash up on weekdays for 1Xtra and on Saturday nights for Radio 1, it’s a wonder he finds time for his five regular podcasts, which often find there way into the iTunes top 100 most downloaded. And the talent doesn’t just end with music - he’s also acted in ‘Eastenders’, ‘A Thing Called Love’ and most notably ‘Crossroads’. Damn, son!
Fortunately this busy-body still has time to come tear up our Room Three dancefloor at the end of next month, on 30th October, as well as find a few spare minutes to "talk the hind legs off a donkey" (his words, not ours) with us...
How old were you when you first started mixing?
I was about 11 or 12. I’d always been a music fan and harbored a dream of being a DJ from the days of playing records to my mum and dad using my Fisher Price record player, but it was after going to the Nottingham Junior Television Workshop Christmas Disco when I was about 10 where the DJ there showed me the fundamentals of how to mix on some McGregor MD10’s. Those were the old style ‘disco’ decks – an all in one made up of two sets of horrible belt drive turntables, a crap mixer and built in amp. The DJ recommended I get my own set and being young and impressionable, it took a year of pestering and saving but I managed to get my own set of McGregor MD10’s. They truly were a pile of cack so from there I quickly sold them and progressed to equally crap belt drive no brand turntables and a Numark mixer because I saw it in the Bombfunk MC’s video and thought it must be good. Then I joined a local youth club project when I was 13 that offered free DJ skills classes as reward for completing drugs awareness classes, joined a youth Soundsystem and paid my dues doing house parties for the next few years. Then I joined a local Hip-Hop crew and my first official DJ booking was with those guys at the Hacienda in Manchester just before it was pulled down. I was 14.
What made you decide to pursue your career in the music industry ahead of acting?
My passion for music simply outweighs my passion for acting right now and has done for a few years. That’s not to say that I’ll never go back to acting but I think music is something that gives back what you put in, whereas you could be the best actor in the world and unless your face fits the mould of what the casting directors are looking for, you could be forever out of work. I’ve always wanted to do what I’m doing now – it’s cliché but it’s my dream job; I seem to have built up some forward momentum and there’s so much more I want to achieve within the music industry so I’m not about to take a break from it for anything...other than a lead role in a big budget Hollywood film!
Many DJs wouldn’t have the ability to broadcast as well as mix. Where do you think this talent comes from?
I can only attribute it to sheer passion, dedication and practice! That, and I can talk the hind legs off a donkey given half a chance. I inherited that trait from my mum (sorry mum, but you can talk for England!). They’re two very different, very separate skills but I love the fact that I get to use both of them on my radio shows for both Radio 1 & 1Xtra.
For a DJ you have a truly hectic weekly schedule - do you find it exhausting?
It can be if you completely burn the candle at both ends but over the course of the past year, I’ve learned the value of downtime and the importance of turning things down. The laptop stays in the bag and the Blackberry stays on silent at least one day a week!
Your show is called the ‘Key to the Underground’ and you’ve shown you have a knack for picking out fresh talent. Who’s ‘JamHot’ right now?
In terms of artists, there are so many – the music scene seems alive right now! Watch out for a female singer called Willoe who’s like a 2009 Annie Lennox with soul...Dubchild is coming with a fusion of Dubstep & Funky that is doing a lot for me right now...In Drum & Bass, Cinematic are making really exciting music at the moment... Professor Green has got some amazing stuff forthcoming in the Hip-Hop world that people really aren’t ready for... Lil Silva is THE name to watch in the UK Funky scene...Jessie J is an amazing singer/songwriter from London who’s been signed in the states and will do some very big things soon...there’s loads! I love my job!
Come check MistaJam alongside Lil Silva, Roska AND a full live band show from Donae'o in Room Two on Friday, 30 October.