Pin Back Your Ears, Lovely People!

Make no mistake. James Locksmith is a dude. Which is why we’re pretty damn chuffed he agreed to create an exclusive mix to mark the launch of iamCrü.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, the Dubai-based DJ/producer/curator/promoter and festival programmer is also an increasingly regular face on the scene Stateside. Recognised and respected across the globe for his well-crafted DJ sets, James has been producing and programming world-class events for over 20 years. 
Furthermore, he plays an active role in building and developing independent music communities in various territories around the world – the glue that holds things together, so to speak.

James has our utmost respect and we’re honoured that he could find the time to turn in a feel-good, celebratory house and disco mix for our launch. Go on, play it loud. We defy you not to smile.

You’ve recently been in the States. What was the purpose of your trip?

I played House of Yes and Soul In The Horn in NYC, while in LA I did a bar gig for Elephante in Santa Monica. I went to New Orleans for Jazz Fest to check the live music scene there. While in NYC, LA and New Orleans I indulged in some record shop digging too.

I also did a couple of mixes on air at The Lot Radio NYC for Darker Than Wax and with Eli from Soul Clap. I’ll be making more visits to the US to work closer with labels, artists, events, venues and new clients. I’ll be in LA in October on my way to Mexico and back at the start of next year for about three months.


What prompted your relocation to Dubai in 2011 and how has the local scene progressed since then?

I moved to Dubai to work more on music-related projects and be more central to other parts of the world. I got a glimpse of what was on the rise in the region after a visit to Beirut the year before, which is what really inspired the decision. I was blown away by what I could see was emerging. I had never visited Dubai, although after arriving I felt things needed to happen and I wanted to be part of that.

I met a few guys as soon as I hit the ground through some of my new music friends in Beirut. We started a party together called DUST. It’s great to have been part of the development of an alternative music scene here and in the region. The scene’s infrastructure is more prominent and has improved now. However, some of the official procedures interfere with a more vibrant and flourishing music and arts culture, which is a contradiction for a city that wants to be at the forefront of arts and entertainment. Still, it only gets better, which is exciting. 


Tell us about your involvement with Australia’s Electronic Music Conference in November

I was approached last year to be involved with this year’s EMC with a focus on MENA [Middle East and North Africa] artists and the industry here. My role together with EMC is to develop a MENA programme each year, to develop and foster relationships and opportunities across both parts of the world. 


What are some of the general misconceptions about the scene in the Middle East?

It will be interesting to learn more about that while on the ground in Sydney in November. However, through my experience while being in the UAE, the UAE scene has a bit of glamour-glitz, bottle service, Las Vegas stigma, which has definitely decreased over the years due to the active music heads and their projects.


Is there still a problem with DJ and artist agents seeing UAE gigs as cash cows?

It still exists although it has diminished a bit, which has helped when negotiating deals and the rise of artists wanting to come through. However, as long as there are more super clubs, beach bars and hotel-only licensed venues than there are alternative spaces, clubs and venues, this will always be the case. 


What are the most positive aspects of the Australian scene at the moment?

The music and artists that have been coming out of Australia significantly in the last 10 years is international and incredible. I was also very surprised to see how many Australian artists and music industry players are in LA and NYC now, too.


And the negative?

The biggest negative thing I’ve seen is the lock-out laws in Sydney – absolutely ridiculous. Dubai actually looks like it’s in front because of this, in terms of regulations. Sad but true.


The news season is just getting underway in the UAE. What are your plans for the season?

Right now I’m focused on my residency and position as head of music programming for Barbary, while still working with several clients for their music needs for their events and venues. 


Any emerging talent that you recommend we put on our radar?

I’m really loving and bumping this guy called Channel Tres out of LA. I caught his first NYC show in May.

Which fellow DJ would you drop everything to hear play?

My long-time buddy and colleague Nickodemus in NYC. He’s been DJing and in the game since the ’90s. He has impeccable taste in music, is the head honcho of his own Wonderwheel Recordings label and is an amazing DJ and producer.


We’re thrilled you’ve created an exclusive mix for the launch of iamCrü. How did you approach the mix?

It’s a mix of some current goodies I’ve been playing out. I wanted to connect the dots with sounds from around the world and include laidback grooves for any time of the day plus some 4am bangers. 


Treat your ears: listen to James Locksmith’s iamCrü Mix here.



  • More Lotion Boogie to the Top (Midnight Riot)

  • Posthuman Decompression (Body Work) 

  • Nu Guinea Exotica Dance Club (Tartelet Records)

  • Igor B Ponteio (Rocksteady Disco)

  • Nils Ohrmann Playin’ For People (Arms & Legs)

  • The Barking Dogs Hi-Nrg (Barking Dogs)

  • David Hanke Impala Roundabout (Two Tribes)

  • Esa Bra Hugh (Original) (Endless Flight)

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