This month's Rising Star in association with The Music Market is Capital Xtra's Yinka Bokinni. Here, the DJ talks about her love of music, tells her best behind-the-scenes story and highlights the vital role radio can play in breaking new artists...
What made you want to be a DJ?
“My love for music, to put it super-simply. I have always been obsessed, from musicians, to tours, to production, dancing and singing – extremely badly – and I knew I wanted to incorporate that into my life. For a while, I had no idea how to, since I cannot sing or lay down a wicked 16. Eventually, though, I found a way. Being the host of the Capital Xtra Breakfast Show allows me to put my love for music – and talking, don’t forget talking – to use every single day. And DJing at gigs and festivals and seeing the tunes I select affect people just feels absolutely insane. I feel lucky (and tired, because phew it is hard work!) to have been able to navigate from a dream of wanting to embed myself in the music game, to hosting a flagship show and DJing in the coolest spaces.”
How should radio support artists?
“It plays a huge role. People are so used to hearing the radio and it being a part of their lives that it is pretty easy to underestimate the power of it. Radio can help deliver music to corners that you never thought you would reach, to people who you would never meet. Radio can support artists by taking chances on those who aren’t already established. On my show, I get a thrill every time someone wants me to namecheck a song or wants more details on the up-and-coming artists that we break, because that is where the magic is. Yes, getting to play the bangers and give the people what they want is important, but giving others the exposure is vital.”
What’s your best behind-the-scenes story?
“One of the things I miss the most about face-to-face interviews are the moments just before we go live, just before we put our game faces on and chat ‘on the record’. One of my absolute stand-out moments was from Wireless Festival. We had set up a few games to make our backstage interviews a bit more fun and one was a punching game. The Hit As Hard As You Can game, designed to test the actual strength of your favourite rappers. The problem was Jorja Smith. She actually hit harder than a lot of them! We didn’t officially add her name to the scoreboard because she wasn’t on the festival line-up and wasn’t being interviewed, but every time I hear her sweet, sweet vocals or a rapper mention her in their songs, I think, ‘She could probably out-box you,’ and I crack up.”
I get a thrill every time someone wants me to namecheck a song
What should we be looking out for this year?
“The rise of R&B. I am not playing down the talent that has existed in the UK for generations, but I think this year we will see the rise of the R&B superstars. In their own right and not just as features on your favourite rap records. Artists like Shaé Universe, Bellah, Haile and Kadeem Tyrell should be on your radar. I have a great feeling about this often underrated genre finally getting its flowers.”
What’s your wish for the industry?
“That it continues to flourish. That artists continue to collaborate and grow. The way that the industry has grown and developed in recent years to be artist-focused, and the way eyes currently seem to be placed firmly on the UK side of things is insanely exciting. Long may it continue.”
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