For Jamz Supernova, her goals in the industry are about more than sheer entertainment. “I'm playing this artist so far in the future, but we're remembering that it started right here,” she says. Rather, she’s using her position to inform, link musical timelines, and tell a story through sonics. “I’m trying to link the past, present and the future.”
A multi-hyphenate force in the UK’s music space, the labels she holds are as numerous as they are formidable. She is a label head, radio host, DJ, podcaster, and overall tastemaker broadcasting in the industry for over a decade at the age of 32. She’ll be known to fans for slots on BBC Radio 1Xtra (Best Specialist Aria Gold Winner 2021), BBC 6Music (Broadcast & Press Guild Best radio show of 2022) & Selector radio for the British Council, reaching over 4 million global listeners.
Known for selecting sounds that span musical genres and subcultures, what she enjoys is the intimacy of sharing music with her community over radio. BBC 6 Music is where she sits as a storyteller, exploring global communities and unearthing exciting scenes through platforming underground music that rarely graces the mainstream. On Selector Radio she gives her listeners an overview of British music as a whole, keeping her audience hip to growing trends and scenes as they emerge in real time. And throughout her time on 1Xtra she has been celebrated for picking out the most left-field modern music and giving an incisive look into the alternative music scene.
“There's the double prong-ness of supporting artists that I love, and then playing it to ears that I want to excite. I love being able to provide a platform for them, and then following them all the way from the beginning of their career,” she says, having been an early champion of the likes of Hak Baker, Greentea Peng, Pip Millett and more.
Set up in 2018, her label Future Bounce is another facet of her drive to support emerging artists. Working with musicians like UNIIQU3, Sola and Scratcha DVA amongst others, Jamz works in both an A&Ring and consulting capacity, helping her signees to progress their artistry where the industry can be thorny for up-and-comers.
“I do the due diligence of looking for music, but I know how hard it is for artists to get their music to me if you don't know me, or you're not on my radar,” she says. “So it's about selecting those artists that I'm going to shout about; I'm going to put you in front of this person, give you my phonebook – we attack it together.”
In her live DJing and club appearances, she plays an eclectic genre mix from broken beat, UK funky to Bass, techno and beyond. Inspired by sound system culture & music from around the globe, she has toured worldwide and is a mainstay on the UK festival scene, playing at the likes of We Out Here Festival, Worldwide Sete, Love Saves The Day, All Points East and more.
Her podcast DIY Handbook outlines the stories of how herself and other featured creatives got to where they are, including the ups and the downs. It’s a winning antidote to a perfectly curated social-media world, where the likes of DJ and Producer Conducta, Sunday Times Best Selling Author Otegha Uwagba and presenter June Sarpong can get real about the challenges and the slog. “I kind of made it for the 19-year-old me that entered the BBC for the first time, those who maybe just put their foot in the door,” she says.
“It's the openness and vulnerability of talking about things behind the lens of everything looking perfect. We see the end destination, but this is about all those hurdles, moments and life lessons you learn en route.”
Born Jamila Walters, Jamz lived the early months of her life in Birmingham before her family relocated to South-East London at around 9 months old. It’s here where she’d soak up her multicultural settings, something that would forge her musical identity. “It has all culminated in the kind of DJ and tastemaker that I am,” she says.
“A big part of my identity on air is learning about how people resonate with their heritage. I'm really fascinated by those intersections because I've been around so many different types growing up; African, Turkish, Vietnamese, Caribbean, Somali. It's so nice to be able to share that,” she says, herself being of Jamaican, Cuban and Irish heritage.
Music was a language in the household, a means of how her family communicated both then and now. “Sound system culture just kind of runs through us,” she says: this would be christened by her grandparents who met at a blues, and a love for music would trickle down over generations.
She spent her childhood dancing for hours in the living room with her mum, her dad turning up the music so loud she could feel bass vibrations on their windows. She’d watch her uncle DJ and groove to 7’’ vinyls, and her aunt would take her to raves. Her early clubbing experiences opened her up to a taste of UK funky and dancehall, genres that would lead her into d’n’b, hip hop and more.
Getting into the first steps of her career would prove less direct, though. “I feel like radio chose me,” she says. As a teenager, she wanted to be a TV presenter at first, only taking an interest in radio after accompanying a friend to a visit to BRIT School. It was an “epiphany moment;” Jamz enrolled in their BRIT FM at age 16, eventually joining the BBC aged 19 as a producer.
She’d spend time at Reprezent Radio learning the ropes and hosting her own show, culminating in her first show on BBC Radio 1Xtra at 24. It wasn't an easy path though, and Jamz faced a lot of no’s along the way. “ I loved production, but I knew what I wanted. I had to fight to be on air,” she recalls. It’s testament to a supreme work ethic, summarized in an outlook retained over the course of her career: “There will never be a plan B. Plan B means you don’t believe in plan A.“
It is a vision that will only continue as she moves forward. Jamz will be moving into further TV. She has already filmed and developed documentaries for BBC Three & Newsbeat, also recently co-hosting music show Jazz 625 on BBC FOUR. For 2022, she has been announced as a guest judge for the Mercury Prize. Future Bounce are due to release Vol.II of their Future Bounce Club Series, and she is looking at further podcast ideas in music and the topic of motherhood, having recently given birth to daughter Forest.
World domination will continue to be in her orbit. But Jamz will continue to rise by doing what’s always worked for her – staying true to herself, and to those that resonate with her craft. “I don’t need the numbers and metrics,” she smiles. “But I want you to listen the shows, to come see me DJ and buy the music from the label because you're genuinely invested, and I'm doing something for you.“