Berkeley native Justin James was fascinated by music from an early age. He began playing the recorder at age five, the piano at age six, and the trumpet and drums by age eight. He focused on the trumpet for many years, becoming a member of the the award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and traveling the world playing jazz trumpet.
After graduating from San Jose State, he entered a career outside the music industry that “paid the bills but didn’t fulfill my soul,” he says, before launching his entertainment company in 2014.
DJ Just-In was born.
“To make it as a DJ you have to love all types of music and be able to connect with people and create unique experiences. It’s an art form,” he says. Nowadays, James spins at a variety of venues around the Bay Area, from hotels and corporate events to shows at Parliament in Old Oakland. He draws on his jazz training to bring spontaneity to his music, reading the crowd and responding instantaneously to keep the energy flowing.
James is an avid hip-hop fan, but his DJing is open format, which means he includes any sound that strikes his fancy, from all musical genres. “You have to be a good librarian and have a catalog of sounds ready to draw from immediately. I tie together unique sounds to create my own new sounds,” he says.
If you attended a Tuesday night happy hour on Hotel Vitale’s waterfront patio this summer, you likely heard some of his innovative tunes. The diverse crowd makes Americano Restaurant one his favorite venues — local businesspeople and out-of-town visitors alike stop by to catch up, enjoy a few drinks, and take in the spectacular views of the Bay Bridge. Below, you can take a listen to a mix from one of his live performances at Americano this summer.
DJ Justin-In will also be spinning at Hotel Vitale’s New Years Eve Confetti & Cocktails party, one of San Francisco’s premiere NYE celebrations with unbeatable views of fireworks over the bay.
“NYE is the biggest night of the year for DJs, everyone wants to have a good time,” James says. “It’s going to be a great night, I have a lot of surprises planned, it will be electric.”