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DJ Justin James: “My current sound is like an ‘open-format’ sort of electronica”

Photo Credit: Dominik Kristen

Experienced DJ and dance-floor rocker, DJ Justin James has managed to carve out a name for himself in the national and international nightlife circuit and create a following. He is known for his eclectic and intelligent musical selections and open-format style of playing. Accreditations include releases on Fedde Le Grand’s label – Darklight Recordings, DJ Chuckie’s label – Dirty Dutch Music, Tommie Sunshine’s label – Brooklyn Fire, and NYC based label – Peak Hour Music. Justin has also held bookings/residencies all over the world including; London, Melbourne, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Kolkata, Los Angeles, Taipei, New York City, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Miami just to name a few.

Justin is currently based out of Hồ Chí Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and plays at the city’s top venues. We caught up with DJ Justin James to talk about his current state and other musical topics.

EG: Hello Justin! It’s a pleasure to have you here with us today. How have you been? Where are you right now?

DJ Justin James: Hey EG, thanks for having me. I’m tired (laughter). I’ve been back in the US since early December touring around and have another 5 weeks or so left before heading back to Southeast Asia, back home to Vietnam specifically.

EG: How did you end up in Vietnam? Why did you decide to make your home base there?

DJ Justin James: I moved to Vietnam back in early 2017 to help open a venue as an entertainment director. After that contract was finished I just decided to stay. I never thought that I would have stayed as long as I have, but now it’s home :)

EG: How did this globetrotting adventure start? When did you first come in contact with electronic dance music?

DJ Justin James: Well, I started traveling quite frequently within the US after I graduated from college, but my international travels (per se) didn’t really start until I moved outside of the US in 2015. I’ve been a fan of electronic music for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t really start getting into the production side of things until a few years after I left. My first original release was in 2018.

Electronic Groove: Was it hard to adjust to all the traveling? Does one need a routine so as to not get lost in the haze of it all?

DJ Justin James: Was it? Is it? Yes, yes it is (laughter). Traveling within Asia / Southeast Asia is pretty easy because of public transit, Asian hospitality, etc. But to be honest I find travel within America a lot more stressful and a lot more expensive. I’ve currently been back in the US for the past 11 weeks and while fun, it’s also been taxing. At the beginning of my career, this whole “new city, new venue, new experience” thing is what I longed for, but now as I am getting older, I really don’t know if I want to keep doing these hardcore months-long travel outings around the world. But I always say this, so let’s see…

In regards to the second part of your question… In an ideal world, yes. But…reality. If you are Tiësto or something, then I’m sure keeping a “schedule” when you are traveling is much easier, but for the mid-range guys like myself, you have to do what you have to do and that normally includes a lot of late nights and early flights.

EG: You have released on labels such as Darklight, Dirty Dutch Music, Brooklyn Fire, and Peak Hour Music. How would you describe your sound by now? Is it similar to what you had set out to do initially?

DJ Justin James: Oh, great question! I would say my current sound is like an “open-format” sort of electronica. And the answer to that is no actually. My releases up to this point have been a bit all over the place stylistically and that is something that I have been working on the past year to reign in. My future releases will definitely be in a different direction.

EG: If you could have the most ridiculous artist rider ever, what would you ask for?

DJ Justin James: I wouldn’t. I think artists that put ridiculous things on their riders are assholes.

EG: Thank you so much for your time, Justin! We wish you all the best for the future!

DJ Justin James: Thanks for having me!

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