Idris Elba talks DJing - appearing at Coachella this year and his new Netflix show

music news 22/03/2019

One act we definitely weren't expecting to see on this year's Coachella lineup was Idris Elba, but he's on there, and he's incredibly stoked about it. 

The British actor is most well known for his leading role on 'The Wire' and 'Luther', but he's actually had a side career as a DJ since waaaay back, and play at Coachella is his dream come true: "Doesn’t matter how big my name is on the poster. This is massive for me!"

Elba wanted to be a DJ since he was a little kid, saying: "My dad would let me stare at his record player but not let me touch it. But then growing up in my mum and dad’s house, there was lots of parties, and my dad finally allowed me to DJ. I was probably nine or 10. It was the disco era, so I was playing things like ‘Ring My Bell.'"

He went on to work the turntables at events like weddings around London, and he dreamed of becoming a radio DJ way before acting: "I loved the idea of talking about songs, in between songs, and playing the next one. By the time I had an awareness that this could be a job, I definitely wanted to do that."

He moved to NYC is the nineties, where he made his living selling the ol' wacky tabbaccy, as a bouncer, and DJing on the side: "I created sets that had everything from reggae to house to hip-hop to even some Latin music. The East Village had a little bit more of an eclectic taste. I really enjoyed that time."

Landing the leading role in 'The Wire' launched him into fame, but he still kept DJing: "Once The Wire came in, I tried to DJ as much as I could,” he says. “My profile went up and the money went up along with it. It definitely fell second place to acting but then I got serious about it. I got myself an agent, a DJ manager, and it was like a second career, a side-hustle."

He started to merge the two when he began releasing music inspired by his acting gigs, like 'Idris Elba Presents Mi Mandela' and 'Murdah Loves John (The John Luther Character Album)'.

Elba wants people to know he's not just another actor-come-DJ though: "People are going to make up their own minds when they see me spin. They’ll say, ‘Oh, wow. He’s not really just some dude up there hitting one key. He’s made some songs and he’s contributed.'"

And now he's hitting us with a new Netflix show completely different to anything he's done before, combining his two careers: a sitcom where he plays a one-hit wonder DJ from the 90s. You can watch the trailer for it below.

In the meantime though, he's looking forward to gracing Coachella's stage next month: "It’s the pinnacle for me as a DJ. People might come out of curiosity, but I’m playing a two-hour set of hard, techie house music. Hopefully, they’ll be pleasantly surprised". Check him out on the decks above - you might be pleasantly surprised yourself!