Another Barbadian is getting an opportunity to make his name known on the world stage in entertainment.
Justin “Jus-Jay” King announced on Monday that he will be carrying the Barbados flag at the Red Bull Thre3Style World Finals VII slated for next year in Krakow, Poland.
He will be the only Caribbean representative at the international event which first came to local attention last year when Andre DJ Puffy Parris became the first Barbadian and Caribbean person to make it to the finals and to be crowned ultimately as the Red Bull Thre3Style 2016 World Deejay Champion.
King sat down with Bajan Vibes and shared how he started out in deejaying and where he is going. The past Queen’s College said from a young age, he always knew he wanted to represent Barbados.
“I thought I would represent my country in football (and) that was the direction I was heading. I was captain of the QC football team ready to give my best… but then in third form or fourth form, I hurt my knees and that was it,” he recounted.
The injury would end the aspiring footballer’s career and throw him into the arts.
“I started break-dancing and I remember entering the QC school pageant because I wanted to dance in the talent segment and the weekend before the competition, they couldn’t believe that I didn’t have any formal wear or anything like that and they had to get Abeds to sponsor me because I didn’t care about the pageantry, I just wanted to dance,” King said.
And dance he would as he later formed the group Infrared with school mates Justin Luke and Karlos Cobham.
“In 2004, we formed the group because we all had a common interest at QC. If I am being honest, school wasn’t for me; I would skip class and go in the hall and dance and I’d butt up on them and we would all be in the hall dancing,” Justin admitted, adding it was difficult loving the arts when school in the Caribbean is geared towards academics and the obvious professions like being doctor, lawyer or accountant.
Infrared would debut on the entertainment scene, from dancing in competitions to doing background dancing for bands, straight to the opening Crop Over gala at National Cultural Foundation. Justin said it was here that the world opened up for him.
“I got thrown into the band arena as a singer ‘cause I wanted to sing as well especially when the whole Rihanna phase came around. Everybody wanted to sing and I had the stars in my eyes. I ended up in another band with Kirk Brown and TJ called Strategy and we would perform every Tuesday and Thursday at Ship Inn before it became Sugar. We did that for two years” he said.
In 2008, another big break on the local entertainment scene came for Justin when he made it to the Crop Over Party Monarch finals with a soca song entitled Soaking Wet. “I placed 11th out of 20 people but it was a good experience because I shared the stage with Peter Ram, Lil Rick and all the big names in soca,” he said.
It was a chapter he would later close after realizing singing wasn’t for him. “I thought I wanted to sing. I wasn’t bad at it, but I wasn’t great at it either,” he admitted.
A graphic designer by profession at the time, he would begin to focus more on this craft. “All along I was designing posters for the dance group, it was a hobby for me when I discover Photoshop on my laptop. I was the person designing my own posters for my songs and events so when I eventually left the band, I still had work as I was designing posters for clubs and fetes and was actually managing the social media of Club Xtreme and Club 360.”
Justin continued: “In 2010, I went to New York, my first trip outside of the Caribbean, and it was there that I discovered a wave of electronic music, which was very DJ driven and not singing oriented and I fell in love with it. I liked that you could move people with just music.”
On his return home, Justin decided to approach the clubs to get into event promotion. “I wanted to start doing these electronic music events but fused with soca and the regular music we played here. I approached Club Xtreme cause I was already managing their social media and said ‘I want to do a night here’ and they were hesitant; they were looking more at the popular guys on the scene.”
A year would pass, the club was not doing well and King would bring his idea to the table once more. “At that point, they were like ‘hell we ain’t got nothing to lose”, … and they let me do it. It took me a few months to go from 10 people, 15 people, 20 people and eventually it blew up. It was called Liquid and it was me and Rene Nelson and this Halloween event which was our biggest event … but by the time we got the event off the ground, the club had to shut down as they were in problems,” he said.
Though the club closed, the event lived on at different locations bi-monthly.
“We moved to the Plantation and while I was holding the events, I decided to be the DJ too because coming back from New York, I knew that nobody would book me, but as the event grew, I as Jus-Jay grew too,” he said.
The series of events would eventually fade away leaving just one. “Our Halloween event would be our one solid big event, you would see 2,500 people at Concorde and our last event which was held in 2015 actually grew to the stage of being a Halloween music festival; we had two stages, six genres of music and 13 DJs from across the world,” Justin recalled, revealing that this was how he got his break.
“I had to find a way to break myself,” said Justin who now does entertainment full time and has been a music producer for the last three years. He coined 2017 as his breakout year. “In 2016 for Independence, I released two videos and they were very unique because they were outdoors. I got a generator and I went out on a cliff edge in St Lucy and did a DJ routine. It took me eight hours of set up for a five minute video but it was worth it because it went viral and it threw me into 2017 in a major way,” he said.
“2017 has been my year. I put out my first original record this year with Marzville and just yesterday I released an original record with Kas the band for Trinidad carnival,” he added.
Over 50 flights later, and visits to 15 different countries, Justin has made his mark regionally and thinks he is ready to hit the international market which is why he entered the Red Bull Thre3Style Championship.
“I knew I was going to enter the competition the following year from the time I saw Puffy’s announcement that he had entered. ….. Puffy inspired me and from the time he won, I started creating my routine.”
“I took a flight out in January and I went to Scratch Academy in New York and sharpened my ‘turntablism’ skills. I knew I had the ideas but technique was lacking, so I spent five months rehearsing the routine,” he said.
It would take Justin two days to film the submission video. “I kept with my outdoor theme and went to the waterfall in Bath, St John, with my film guy, Nathan Matthews, and my friends Rene Nelson, Lord Zenn, Justin Ward and Anthony Nelson. These guys helped me get tables and generators up to the waterfall and made the production a success,” he said.
Describing his Thre3Style submission video as the highlight of his career thus far, Justin remarked: “Even though it wasn’t me deejaying for a crowd, technically it was me deejaying for a bigger crowd than I’ve ever deejayed for before. The video currently stands at a quarter million views, with thousands of shares. People from around the world now identify me by that video, these videos propelled me and threw me in to an international market,” he said.