When one thinks of occupations in the music industry, a career in singing or professional instrument playing, teaching music, or even music composition are often the first to come to mind.
However, one of the most popular and sought-after musical occupations is actually none of these. Just ask Winnipeg’s very own Jamil Williams, or Jamil The DJ as he is more popularly known, who has built himself a successful and growing career as a professional DJ.
Jamil has described his initial introduction into DJing as somewhat unintentional. “I sort of just fell into it,” he says with an easy smile, “I always happened to have the most CD’s at parties and would wind up being in charge of the music. I’d never really liked the way CD’s had start and stops from song to song, and then one birthday I heard a mixtape where it was just continuous. The songs just blended into one another and I’d never heard anything like that before.”
Jamil attended Red River College with the intention of pursuing a more corporate oriented career after graduating from the College’s business program. He worked in a few offices post-grad but found the work restricting with regards to creative freedoms. Eventually he decided to pursue DJing as a career and hasn’t looked back since.
Over the years Jamil has been hired for a variety of gigs, including nightclub DJing, city events, weddings, and socials. He has also competed at the Redbull Thre3style World DJ Championship three times. Currently, he is on Winnipeg’s radio station Energy 106 every Wednesday with his music mixes and is also the soundtrack artist for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Investors Group Field.
“Performance wise, I really have to gage my material based on the crowd and the client. I like to operate on a medium of being fresh but also familiar.” Jamil says when asked about what a show DJ’d by him is like. “The beauty of it is that I like X type of music, maybe the crowd likes Y type of music, and you unite them with Z. You get to use your creative integrity in creating a positive experience for the people you’re playing for.”
As enjoyable of a career as DJing is, working as one professionally is not without its challenges. “Music accessibility has definitely changed things over the years,” Jamil says, “Before some tracks may have been exclusive to one DJ, and even though the web is great for recognition, now pretty much anyone can go on and mix their own content or listen to your content without compensation for the artist’s work.”
“It can also be pretty intimidating during a show sometimes. Your job is to be the person up front putting out music that everyone is supposed to enjoy – except that it doesn’t always go that way. People can be very vocal about what they think of what you’re putting out. You certainly build a tough skin.” Jamil says with a laugh.
He doesn’t let this get him down though. “When you rush creativity, it can be frustrating. But being the one helping everyone have a good time and enjoy themselves – it’s a really great feeling.”
Check out Jamil on Instagram @jamilthedj to find out where his next event is and to hear some of his tracks. You can also tune in to Energy 106.1 FM every Wednesday at 5 p.m. for his latest Energy Mix. (Written by Rylee McOuat with Gold Spec Media)