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London | dJ and Club Promoter

builDing A COMMuniTY THROugH MusiC, DJ JAMEs pRiEsTlEY is REinvigORATing THE EAsT lOnDOn sCEnE.

Sitting back in his chair, James Priestley takes a sip of beer and glances around the City Arts & Music Project he founded. A former Chinese restaurant, CAMP encapsulates the creativity of London’s East End, morphing from a café by day into a club by night.

One of the most sought after DJs in London for the best part of a decade, and co-creator of the legendary Secretsundaze parties, Priestley has an army of dedicated followers and a reputation as a musician with innovative business acumen and a serious attention to detail.

Contemporary art and installations line the walls, deep house throbs below the gentle murmur of drinkers, decks lie waiting for the later hours. Priestley seems satisfied with his creation, if not sated.

“I actually didn’t play here for the first six months,” he explains. “I really wanted to make sure that everybody else’s experience of playing here or drinking here or whatever was right first. There’s so many things to think about when you take on something like this, particularly if you haven’t done it before. You want to make sure you get it right before thinking about the process of performing yourself. Obviously, when you go into a venue as a promoter, there’s only so much that you can change in terms of the production of it or how it feels,” he adds. “With your own place you have more control over what you do and over other people’s experience. So it wasn’t actually until January this year that I did my first night here. Playing in my own place was really nice.”

“It was a natural, logical step for me to do something like this, something I wanted to do for a while. I’m enjoying it definitely. It’s really challenging and I’m learning a lot. The other side of what I do – DJing, making music and promoting parties – is always a challenge. There’s always next steps you can take with it. But I was ready for a new challenge, to learn new skills and apply the skills I already had from years of doing other projects.”

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The Dream Factory  
The Dream Factory  

The Dream Factory

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