Q&A with DJ and presenter Ashley James

24 April 2017 by
First published: 22 April 2017

We chat music, marathons and fashion in our Q&A with DJ and presenter Ashley James.

It can often be tricky maintaining your health and fitness when you lead a busy life, but Ashley James manages to do just that and more! Not only does the DJ and presenter have her own radio show, DJ-ing duo and a fashion label in the pipeline, but she’s also somehow found the time to run this year’s London Marathon. We found out all about her exciting endeavours and what makes Ashley James tick.

You’re a DJ, presenter, blogger and model, so it’s fair to say you’re a woman of many talents! What was your first passion in life?

My first passion is and always has been presenting. I used to record my own radio shows on a tape recorder when I was seven years old, and first got my foot in the door of my local BBC radio station at 16. That said, my job is fulfilling because of all the other parts I do. DJ-ing allows me to travel with my best friend Charlotte de Carle and is one of my only hobbies that lets me completely shut out the outside world.

It’s very exciting to hear that you’ve teamed up with Charlotte de Carle to form the DJ duo BitterSweet. What can you tell us about your new partnership?

Charlotte and I have both DJ-ed separately for years and have lots of music knowledge (even though our tastes are very different). We moved in together and started to jam. We realised it was something we loved doing and it seemed to work really well. BitterSweet is growing quickly and it’s so cool to be able to experience it with my best mate.

Music is obviously a very big part of your life. Who inspires you?

Wow, this is a hard one because there are so many incredible artists out there. I love what Stormzy is doing for the UK rap scene. It’s such an exciting time for grime. He’s so talented and comes across as a really nice guy. He’s really paving the way.

Beyoncé is an obvious choice, but her Lemonade album is one of the rawest and bravest projects I’ve heard in a long time. I love everything she stands for. I really want to write about my experiences and thoughts on love and I haven’t been brave enough to yet, so I admire her for how much of herself she shares to the world.

She’s probably a little less known in the UK, but I really love and admire an American artist called Dej Loaf. She’s doing her thing beautifully and is very hardworking – she seems to spend 24 hours a day in the studio grafting. I love to see people work hard to achieve their dreams and she’s collaborating with some of the biggest artists which, in a very male environment, is incredible.

What’s your favourite music festival in the UK? Are you going to any this year?

Ooh, that’s a hard one! I feel like we have some of the best festivals in the world (if only we could sort our weather out!). I try to go to as many as possible. I love the music, the fashion, the vibe – everything. The line-up at Wireless this year is insane so I definitely want to go there. I’d like to go to Glastonbury again; last year our group was a bit too big and we hardly got to see anything, so I want to go back and do it properly.

We hear that you’re running the London Marathon this year. What motivated you to take on the challenge?

I ran it last year and promised never again! What can I say, I’m a sucker for a challenge. I think it’s an amazing opportunity and I love being able to do things for charity. There are so many amazing ones but a friend of mine has sadly been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so I wanted to do a little bit to help fight that bastard of a disease.

What have been the best and worst parts of your training so far?

The worst part is the god-awful weather we’ve been dealt with since the beginning of the year. It’s been hard to get out and train in storms and rain! The best part is the great feeling you get when you get out there. I recently ran 15 miles around Paris with AJ Odudu, which will be amazing.

What advice would you give to anyone who’s thinking of taking up running?

Do it! Don’t worry about your time or distance, as it will take a week or two for your body and lungs to get ready. Go for 10 minutes every morning and you’ll enjoy it more and more. It’s the best thing I ever did. The physical benefits go without saying, but I’m always in a much better mental place after a run, too.

What’s your go-to workout when you need to cheer yourself up?

I’ve just got really into boxing following a week at No 1 Boot Camp. Whenever I’m stressed I book in an early morning session at Kobox  – it’s a perfect blend of HIIT and boxing. Honestly, if you haven’t tried it yet, there’s nothing better at tackling stress than punching a bag.

What are your fave pieces of workout clothing?

I love that there’s so much activewear out there. Asics does the best running shoes, I swear by them. I love Adidas so much too. But you know there are so many good brands on the high street now too – Hoxton Haus and Pretty Little Thing are two of my favourites.

We know you enjoy playing rap, hip-hop, trap, grime and R&B during your DJ set on Hoxton Radio every Friday 2-4pm. Do you listen to similar music when you work out?

Always! I grew up on Dr Dre, Dizzee Rascal, Eminem and Ja Rule. There’s such a good energy to the music – a good beat is essential for me. That’s why I love Kobox so much – the playlist there is unreal.

Is there a new challenge or type of exercise that you’d like to try out, but haven’t had a chance to yet?

I would love to run more marathons around the world. I like the idea of running 12 in 12 months. And I would like to train to have a proper boxing match in a ring.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’m launching a really cool fashion label that focuses on female empowerment, so watch this space. I’ve got a show on one of my favourite radio stations coming up and a few exciting TV projects. Oh, and BitterSweet has just signed to an American booking agent. Life is very good indeed. I feel very grateful and excited.

Follow Ashley James on Twitter at @ashleyljames and on Instagram at @ashleylouisejames