Jamz Supernova (Credit: Vicky Grout)
Catching up with the vital, always on-point broadcaster and DJ...

Part of a growing wave of intersectional tastemakers dismantling and redefining the parameters of black music, you can rely on Jamz Supernova to soundtrack your late nights. Embedded within the fabric of BBC Radio 1Xtra, her own ethos is tantamount to the station’s: “I’ve been working at 1Xtra since I was 19. I’ve been privy to watching, learning and celebrating with them as they champion the alternative.”

From the more sanitised endorsement of crossover American rap and R&B, to the emergence of more localised, grass-roots music, Jamz fuses pirate radio informality with deft commentary. Yet the foundation for it all is rooted deep in her youth. “I’m a true ’90s baby. Growing up, it was about the back catalogues. It was a good time to be empowered, so maybe the strength of TLC and Missy rubbed off on me.”

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A fully-fledged DJ in her own right, Jamz’s Future Bounce nights sees her veer further off-track, flexing her love for electronics - think Baltimore house and UK funky. The license is to thrill, but a trickier balancing act ensues: “It’s a risk when you’re repping underground club music; will the audience want you to play Drake all night? Are they here for the line-up? You’re educating the audience on new and old sounds. When you find that happy medium, it’s a sick experience.”

It’s meant she’s been able to cultivate a curatorial formula when cherry-picking artists. “It has to be personal. I have to love the music. I’m such an over-thinker, but it means nothing is done on a whim.” This is coupled with an unerring hunger to resist convention: “You can’t jump the gun. One great record doesn’t make them the next big thing. I want to hear growth, so I can grow with them.”

Jamz bemoans the lack of televised coverage for the R&B/soul category at the 2017 MOBOs, seemingly resonating with viewers, underscoring a desire to protect the integrity of the genre. “I respect what the MOBOs have done for music, but I was confused when it wasn’t a genre worthy of being shown. Sometimes when we think about ‘black music’ we forget to appreciate just how progressive it can be. In not showing the category, it set the illusion that the genre isn’t thriving.”

And according to Jamz it is the antithesis - her own personal forecast for 2018 emulates the forward-thinking trajectory of black music. “I laid a strong foundation in 2017, I’d like to keep building on that. Grow my radio show, more DJ gigs, more festivals, more Future Bounce parties across the UK, start my label, tour Asia and just enjoy the journey.”

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Words: Shahzaib Hussain
Photography: Vicky Grout

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