London DJ Nadia Jae is set to hit the Pepsi Max stage at Wireless this month. We spoke to her about her favourite musicians right now, who she’s most excited to see perform at the festival and crowd-pleaser songs

Wireless 24 is weeks away! What are you most excited about?

Last year, for the first time my son joined me on stage and it was so epic! My cool mum points went up a thousand! I never thought we’d ever get to this stage, it’s so weird. We’re only 20 years apart but when I had him, I didn’t know that I’d be doing what I’m doing now. Honestly I love being a DJ mum, it’s so sick! I didn’t plan it like this whatsoever, but I just love being able to. Like last year we were on the main stage and there’s 18 year olds singing ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S and I’m like, “oh my God, this is epic.” Like, it’s stuff like that. I can’t put it into words properly. What I love is being able to play music and it just joins everyone together, whether you’re 16, 17, whether you’re 35 plus. I’ve wanted to play Wireless for years, so to be able to do it for a third year running is epic. So yeah, I’m super excited about that.

It’s so special and you’re right because younger people now have an appreciation for all kinds of music. You don’t have as many subcultures of groups of “I’m only into that.” Is he joining you on stage this year?

Yeah I don’t think I could get him off (laughs). After last year he’s like “I’m definitely coming.” So yeah, I think he should come. If he’s not there, fine, but if he is, it’d be sick because you know, how many more opportunities am I gonna get to do it? He’s still got the pass from last year, I reckon he’ll be there. He’ll be there before me at this rate, he’ll be setting up (laughs). And it’s nice. I’ve got my own memories of Wireless, I remember buying myself tickets to Wireless Festival when I first graduated as a present and it was the year Jay-Z was there. So for that to transcend generations, and our teenage brothers and kids are now able to enjoy it like that. It’s amazing. It’s actually amazing.

That’s the best, but you’re right. He’s now seen that; you can’t go back into the crowd after you’ve seen it from the stage.

I don’t blame him either. If my mum was DJing, I’d be on the main stage with pom-poms (laughs).

It’s nice that you still have that. I bet when you’re on the stage you remember those memories of you on the other side, so what was your favourite memory of Wireless as an attendee, not a DJ.

As an attendee, when I was really, really young, Jay-Z coming on stage. That was insane. I remember me and my friends were crying, like I don’t know why, like “what’s wrong with us?” We didn’t leave as well, so we were like the last set of kids to leave and we was sat on the grass and they were like, “guys, you need to go” but the Euphoria of the festival, we didn’t want to leave, so that was definitely one. I think the second one as an attendee was when Drake came out, when future was there. I want to say 2016 to 2018, I can’t remember which year it was, but I remember thinking, “okay, I’m gonna go,” and then literally Drake came out and we ran to the stage. Like we weren’t industry affiliated then and I wasn’t backstage I was still an attendee, so that was definitely a sick moment. I think those are the two for attendees. But I think just me being on stage and just raving in the rain last year was just amazing. Like, honestly it was euphoric, and my stepsister was in the crowd. She was filming and I was like, “oh my God, this is so sick.” Those have been my top three moments.

What’s your favourite thing about like being like in that kind of, you know, Festival set at Wireless?

My favourite thing about DJing at festivals is that everything bangs. You can go to the club and you’ll play a couple songs and it’s like all right this isn’t gonna slap as much but it’s just a filler. I swear everything I played they were like singing along. I think everyone was just so happy to be outside again. And I think when the weather is hot too. I remember I was doing in and outs as well, so like sometimes you come on when the artists are changing over and stuff. Honestly you could play like Chris Brown ‘loyal’ and they’re singing it and it’s like “that’s old. Like what?” And then I remember playing like Jhené Aiko ‘The worst’ – they were singing their heads off. I remember playing a bit of Amapiano because I was trying to test it out to see if they knew it or not. I played that, they loved it and then after a while I’d be talking to them, like “what do you want to hear?” Honestly, everyone loves music there and I think that’s really important. When you’re in the club, not everyone wants to be there to dance, I feel like at festivals they’re here for a good time, so I think that’s my favourite thing. I can multi-genre DJ to the reps that I want to. Like I said, Robin S to Spice to Jhené Aiko, I went through shit loads of music and I was really happy with the fact that they were so responsive considering their age, but I think that’s my favourite thing, that literally anything goes.

The line-up this year has a lot of Jamaican artists, even Vanessa bling’s playing. Where will you be when she’s on?

Hopefully not backstage embarrassing myself, because last year when City girls were on, I was backstage dancing and JT ran over to me like, ‘can you help me with my boots?’ And I was like ‘oh my God, what?’ Like I had to help with her boots but she saw me twerking, I was like, “oh my God this is not the moment that I wanted.” It’s so funny. So, hopefully, [I’ll be] well away from anyone seeing me dancing, but I think I just want to be in the crowd. I don’t care if I’m DJing, I want to be in the crowd. I was in the crowds when SZA played last year, we were all singing our hearts out. So yeah, and when Gaza comes on, it’s gonna be mad. I’ll definitely be in the crowd.

Besides Vanessa bling, what three artists are you most excited to see this year in the line-up?

Definitely Gunna. Just because I want to see my son go ape shit if I’m honest with you like he loves Gunna. Sean Paul. That is gonna be a movie and no matter what anyone says, we love a bit of Sean Paul. Musically, I think people forget how many bangers that man has; it’s gonna go off, definitely. And then I think also Tyla, never seen her live before, she’s got a good bit of heat under her now. We’ve got two, three big songs now, dance routine, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the production of that looks like. I saw Nicki so I know she’s got new songs. I’d like Nicki to bring some people out, that would be sick. But they are the ones I’m most intrigued about. Everyone else I’m just like “yeah, you’re going to be a vibe, I know what you’re about,” but those three and Gunna in particular I’m like, “oh, this could be really interesting.”

What do you predict is the song of the summer for 2024?

You know what mine is, at the moment, is Darkoo’s ‘Favourite Girl’. Oh my God. I’m obsessed with that song. It makes me feel happy, I feel like the sun is shining when the song comes on. So that would be one for me. I like Kehlani ‘After Hours,’ but I think by the time I get to Wireless, I might be fed up with it, whereas Darkoo I hear it and instantly I’m like, ‘oh my God, I’m the favourite girl, I’m an A-list girl’, so I’m gonna stick with that. I’m gonna say, Darkoo has the title for now, unless NSG or J Hus drop a song before this comes out, but definitely Darkoo. I just love [Favourite Girl]. It’s great.

Can you tell us three artists you’re feeling right now?

Do you know who I think is sick and isn’t getting as much credit as I want him to at the moment? Antslive. Oh my God. No that guy. I want him to get some more heat at the minute. Elmiene. Yeah… Banging, oh my God, just safe in his lane vocally, incredible. I’m like, “where did you come from!? Like What? You’re just some incredibly talented guy, you’re young…” Yeah, I love him and he’s still quite mysterious. I’m gonna be really boring and ride out for Mnelia, because I think she dropped bangers. She was booked for wireless last year and I’d love to see her progress and become the face of the UK r&b because you know ‘say yeah’ was a smash and she’s dropped other tunes, but they haven’t propelled as much as I want them to, considering they sound so good. Like she’s very consistent. 

I like that they’re all homegrown too, that’s important, championing the UK.

Our sides of the water, definitely have to represent.

So tell me which artists right now are you guaranteed to play every DJ set?

I’m absolutely playing Kendrick at the moment, he’s taken over my sets. I’m actually quite prone to playing tiktok remixes as well. I do enjoy Cash Cobain ‘fisherrr,’ like everyone seems to love that one. I’m gonna play you ‘one man.’ Yeah. Like everywhere. I’m gonna play you ‘one man,’ that would be my go-to. I can’t do anymore or it would be the whole freaking set (laughs). 

What is the funniest reaction you’ve had to a song when you’ve been playing?

Ooh, I’ll get it with ‘One Man’ cuz that was funny. I did play it and everyone was screaming, boys, girls like it was mad. But do you know what? When I played Shenseea, they wanted ‘Shenyeng Anthem’ and they were just screaming at me. I played something from Shenseea and basically they were like ‘Shenyeng Anthem!’ And I was like “Huh? What?” Then they were basically saying that was my set done because I didn’t play it and so I said “oh my god guys I’m so sorry” and I started singing it on the mic (laughs). Literally this time last year. My last song was a Shenseea song and yes that literally happens. That’s quite funny. So they wanted Shenyeng. 

Have you got ‘Shenyeng Anthem’ in the setlist this time? 

Yeah. I just didn’t play it [last year] and I had one song left and I thought I’ll play Shenseea just to cool it down and they were like ‘not that one!’ (laughs). 

So of all of songs you play, which are your favourite set of fans?

Oh, do you know what? When I play garage and house. There’s nothing like it cuz you can’t hear garage and house songs and be still. It’s nice to see people jumping up and down in the rain. And I was like, ‘yeah, this is lit.’ I played like AJ Tracy, Jorja Smith ‘On my mind’. Yeah. So everyone was singing ‘On My Mind,’ and then I went into ‘Little Things’ and then I went into like J Hus and then I went into like full-blown Robin S and House music. Honestly that crescendo is my favourite and no one hates house, and if they do they end up just dancing anyways. 

How do you kind of decide what you’re going to play for each of them like that?

Do you know what? I’m proper multi-genre. I just want everyone to have something. If you’re a rap fan, you have rap, if you’re a dancehall fan, you have dancehall. I don’t want anyone to get bored and when you’re DJing and it’s like, they know what’s going to come next, I hate that feeling. So I try to mix it up with a bit of funky and a bit of house, especially Beyoncé. Beyoncé’s Renaissance album’s really easy to transition into house and mid-tempo garage. It’s really easy, so you can go from ‘BREAK MY SOUL’ to Donae’o ‘Party Hard’ to J Hus; that 140 BPM will do, it’s a little bit of me. So it just means people move no matter what, so it’s a bit of a cheat code but then obviously some people don’t like House. But the reaction I get between that and dancehall, dancehall’s a close second, but definitely house and garage. I didn’t expect it. I was not expecting to play house but because I’m multi-genre, I literally just go with what people are doing. If they like it, I’m like “right, just keep going” and then if it gets a little bit like “they don’t know what I’m here playing,” then I’ll put something a bit familiar in.

It’s also like when do you know that you’ve played too much of one genre and the science to it.

Yeah, I always say it depends on how quick you’re mixing. If I’m on stage, I’m usually mixing in at least one a minute. If I want everyone gas, I’m doing one a minute, if I want them chilled and singing along, I’ll do a minute and a half and mix out. So yeah, by then they don’t even know that they hate it, just like “sing with me, fly with me, okay guys, don’t worry if you don’t know it” but yeah, I definitely mix House and Garage. It’s so easy to go into Amapiano. It’s easy to go to House. It’s just easy to manipulate, whereas dancehall is very structured. You have to stay in dancehall. Unless you’ve got a remix that can transition you out and then you have to go to R&B.

As a multi-genre DJ, if you had to pick just one to stay with for the rest of your life, what genre would it be?

Dancehall. Definitely. Never get enough.

What about Reggae?

Reggae? Beautiful. Well I didn’t play reggae last year. I guess I will this year now that everyone likes YG Marley, they ate that up on Tiktok. Now everyone’s put more reggae into their DJ set. So yeah it would be Dancehall and Reggae, 100%.

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