Jaguar: “This Year has Shown That There’s Strength in Unity”
Jaguar: “This Year has Shown That There’s Strength in Unity”December 15, 2020
Through her work as a broadcaster, presenter, journalist, and DJ, Jaguar Bingham has turned herself into one of dance music’s most trusted voices and tastemakers. Her weekly BBC Radio 1 show BBC Introducing Dance — which first hit the airwaves back in April — showcases electronic music’s most talented newcomers every Sunday.
With her encyclopedic knowledge of the underground, magnetic personality, relentless work ethic, and skills behind the decks, it didn’t take long for Jaguar to go from intern to host at the distinguished radio station. In addition to her radio work, Jaguar is an active and outspoken supporter of dance floor diversity, and uses her voice to fight against racism and sexism in the industry.
After her fantastic performance for the Beatport x HE.SHE.THEY Pride 2020 showcase back in June, we’ve invited Jaguar to join our world-spanning Absolut x Beatport’s NYE livestream, #DanceAway2020. But first, we caught up with Bingham to learn more about this multi-talented artist.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what you do, and how you first got into DJing and dance music?
I’m from the tiny island of Alderney in The Channel Islands, but for the past few years I’ve been living in London, which I now call home. I had always loved listening to and collecting music when I was younger, and my first experience of raving was when I used to sneak out to Bunker parties in WWII German bunkers in Alderney as a teenager. I loved the sensation of being out, the bass, the lights, and I had the bug from then. I then went to uni in Leeds where I fell in love with electronic music, started hosting a radio show on student radio and learning to DJ and immersed myself in the culture.
How did you first get started working for BBCR1?
I had my first taste of the industry as an intern at Radio 1 and 1Xtra in 2014! I spent two months working in radio production there during the summer of my first year at uni. I applied for it thinking ‘I’ll never get this’, so I was very overwhelmed when I got it, and was so grateful for the opportunity. I loved every second of it, and got to learn how about the radio and music business from the best teams in the world. I remember shadowing on Annie Mac’s Friday night show and it was so exciting and inspiring. I came away from it totally in love with radio, and knew I had to work there. I went back to uni and applied everything I had learnt, put on club nights, made a demo and won two Student Radio Awards, and then started working for BBC Music Introducing as a Team Assistant. I felt fortunate to have these opportunities early on, as it laid solid foundations for my path as a broadcaster. When I moved to London I spent two and a half years hosting my Saturday night show at Reprezent Radio and cutting my teeth as a DJ. When the opportunity arose to host BBC Introducing Dance on Radio 1 in April this year, it felt like the stars aligned and I was ready for it. It’s been a wild ride so far and I can’t wait to see where this takes me!
Who are some of the most exciting artists you’ve found this year through BBC Introducing?
There’s been so many unique and talented artists I’ve had the pleasure of discovering through Introducing, playing on Radio 1 and helping them on their journey. 2020 has been a huge year for dance music and I’ve particularly enjoyed playing EFFY, Lau.ra, India Jordan, Anz, Barry Can’t Swim, Wax Wings, Bailey Ibbs and TSHA on the show! Back in May I premiered Tom Everett’s “Patti” on Radio 1, and from there he was discovered by his now manager and signed to Universal off the back of the track! Then Pete Tong, Annie Mac and Danny Howard started playing it too, and then the daytime DJs got into it, and it went on to make the Radio 1 playlist! Introducing is a brilliant platform for getting emerging artists heard, and I urge artists of all genres to upload their music to us.
Tell us more about your podcast, UTOPIA Talks. What does it focus on, who have you had as guests on the podcast, and what are some of the most important/interesting topics you’ve tackled there?
UTOPIA Talks is a reactive platform for our generation to have say on issues affecting us and our scene. Episode 1 tackles the realities and complexities of sexual assault. I had DJ Paulette, Lauren Flax and Sophia Kearney from He.SHE.THEY as guests, and I included opinions from peers and friends in my WhatsApp group community (it’s made up of 257 emerging producers, artists, and music lovers) that we would react to and discuss. I came up with the idea during the allegations and uncomfortable situation with the late Erick Morrilo, and felt like I had to do something and use my voice for good. It was a bit of an experiment, but the feedback has been great, and we’ll be doing more UTOPIA Talks podcasts going in-depth and unpacking hard-hitting topics in 2021
For those interested in breaking into radio or starting a music-focused podcast of their own, what advice would you give?
Believe in yourself and have faith that you can achieve your goals. Be nice, be gracious, be true to yourself, and learn from every experience that comes your way. What I’ve learnt is that it can take a while to figure out exactly what you’re about. Use that time wisely, watch, listen, learn, and enjoy the ride!
You’ve recently played a few socially distant shows in London. How did that feel?
We hosted a socially distanced UTOPIA back in September and we sold it out! I was just so pleased that it could go ahead, after postponing the launch in April due to Covid-19. It was everything I hoped it would be — a night of colourful sounds and friendly faces! ABSOLUTE., TSHA, Helena Star and myself all played and everyone smashed their sets. I think people were so happy to be out, and hearing great music! It felt like a celebration of getting through what has been a crazy year. It’s the closest thing to a normal live show, and I had the time of my life during my set, I’d never danced that much in my life! We’ll be doing more UTOPIA’s in 2021 for sure, so keep an eye out for one in early 2021…
Are you looking forward to the Beatport x Absolut’s New Year’s Eve Livestream? What can we expect from your set?
I can’t wait! I was so excited when I was asked to play! I love NYE, and I feel like a lot of people will be glad to see the back of 2020, so it will be so fun celebrating with everyone online and doing what I loved most in the world! I’m going to play a lot of my favourite tracks I’ve been supporting on my radio shows this year, lots of bangers from new artists, and a few fun classics I’m sure! My playlist is so big already, so who knows what direction we’ll end up going in. Be prepared to dance!
Are there any other Beatport x Absolut New Year’s Eve livestream performers you’re looking forward to watching?
I’ll probably be tuned in all night to be honest! Carl Cox will be legendary! I always enjoy Nastia’s sets, and I’m looking forward to seeing TOKiMONSTA too.
This will be a huge event, with performances around the world. Do you feel like this year has taught you anything about the unifying power of music?
2020 has made me understand the importance of art and music. At some points this year, it’s all we’ve had to escape a very dire reality. I feel like the launch of my Radio 1 show came at a crucial time. I’m in contact with so many emerging artists and producers each week, and a lot have said how this new platform where their music can be played on national radio has helped them massively. I’ve received some lovely messages saying that being played on Radio 1 has changed their year around, got them through tough times, and spurred them on to keep following their passion. I’ve made some incredible connections with the crew in my WhatsApp community. We’re constantly sharing tunes, ideas, discussing what’s going on and most importantly, looking out for each other every day. It’s helped me keep sane and feel connected to people you’d normally be out and about with in clubs etc. Music and radio has given me a real purpose, and I cherish it so much.
As we anxiously await the end of 2020, what are your hopes for 2021, and do you have any thoughts about the future that you’d like to share with your fans?
I am ever the optimist and feel hopeful for 2021. This year has shown that there’s strength in unity. The aftermath of a very difficult summer and the BLM movements has shown the world that there’s so much work to be done with regards to achieving equality. I hope people keep being proactive and we see real results from the conversations and initiatives that have taken place this year. I’d love to see this reflected in our festival lineups as they start to return, with diversity celebrated and respected across the board in our industry.