Skills, Thrills And Bellyaches

23 January 2014 | 11:00 am | Tom Birts

"I’m driving around, speeding, talking about disco, trying to find a place to shit! The life of a ninja! Amazing!"

"I'm driving around, speeding, talking about disco, trying to find a place to shit! The life of a ninja! Amazing!” The last few years have been pretty amazing for Jaguar Skills. Over a million mixtape downloads, international tours and a show on the UK's biggest radio station prove it. But every super-DJ-ninja has a nemesis, and Jag's false friend was a humble chilli. “I'm a chilli guy! I like chilli! There was one just there and I ate it. Now I've been shitting and throwing up for three days!” The Music waits for the interview to be cut short to the sound of sirens as a masked man runs from his Range Rover into a service station.

Skills was raised on funk, disco, soul, reggae and “shitloads of theme tunes. I've got Star Trek done 18 different ways”. By the age of three he was stacking wax not sticklebrix, and with Old Man Skills' DJing and editing to pay the bills some would say his path to the decks was more like easy street. Not so. Spinning in clubs for years before being given a break by Jade Jagger, it took time to find style and an audience.

Today, Skills' sets and mixes are a living acknowledgement to turntablism's roots. Before hip hop existed as we know it, beats came in four, eight or 16 bars. He has stuck with the cut 'n' paste ethos, tracking it with technology and playing only what bumps the hardest.

“I don't feel the need to play the new and exclusive stuff all the time. There's so much music. If I show you an old record now, it's new to you. DJs show me records now and I ask them when it came out, and they're like 'It's five, ten, 20 years old, you idiot!'.” Skills goes on – “I started on vinyl, and I don't reminisce about vinyl either. I'm glad the technology has got to this point. In fact, what the fuck? I'm happy I can do it this way.”

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He also has no truck with long talk. “You read a lot of stuff where DJs are talking like they're fucking Einstein or something. I don't think you need to take people on a journey. I don't think you need to go as deep as that. You just need to play some really good tunes really well and jump up and down and have some fun.

“I'm a big fan of interacting with the crowd and joining in the party. It depends on all types of shit, but you don't need a fucking cake, or to come down on a trampoline, or out of a massive explosive penis and do five somersaults. It's just nice to see a DJ look like they like the music they're playing.”