DJ José: “I was sweating bullets”

DJ José and Marceline 2016 Summer of Love
It's 40 years ago since DJ José played his first gig. He told me about it: "My choice of records was appreciated from the start."

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

This year he's celebrating hist forty-year-anniversary as a DJ and he has earned his spurs 100%. Seven years ago, I interviewed Dutch Jos Klaster a.k.a. producer and artist DJ José about how it all began. About his first gig: “In those days I stuttered, except when I had a microphone in my hands.”

“I had been fiddling with two turntables and two copies of Michael Jackson’s album Thriller for a while at home. I tried to play Wanna Be Starting Something simultaneously on those two decks and get one to go slightly faster than the other, to achieve the so-called phasing effect. We always said: ‘Then you get a fighter jet in the track’.”

jos met zijn mentor Henri - DJ José: "I was sweating bullets"

Chez Jean

“I had recorded this fiddling and on Saturday, after my dance class, I went out for the first time in Bar Dancing Chez Jean in my hometown of Steenwijk. I was seventeen then. I gave my cassette tape to the resident DJ and he promptly played my version of Wanna Be Starting Something. Afterwards he asked if I wanted to try out because he had to do military service and the club was looking for a replacement DJ. And so it happened. On a Friday evening, I did a trial run in front of an empty bar under the watchful eye of manager and later mentor Henri Kooij (picture above). The following Saturday I was able to start working for real.”


“That was in 1983. At that time I stuttered, except when I held a microphone. That was quite fortunate, because at the time it was still customary for to talk in between the songs and name them. Later that year people started mixing. That was another experience.”

jos nu 1024x683 - DJ José: "I was sweating bullets"


“When I heard Evelyn Thomas’ High Energy and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax, I got the idea to glue them together without a break. I practiced that to death. How did I get those tracks right?! Every time I lifted the needle and dropped it on the record, I hoped it would land exactly on the right beat. Sometimes that worked, other times it didn’t. Extremely frustrating.” (laughs) “So, yes you can say that I am self-taught.”


“One day I got a tip from Spans, a record store in Steenwijk, about a record called the Mix Instruction LP. The album started like this: ‘This record is about mixing and scratching, scr-scr-scr-scratching’. That’s how I discovered that with a slip mat under the record you can hold the record with your finger, after which you wait for the right beat and then let go. Sigh… A year had already passed since the discovery of Evelyn and Frankie.”

DJ Jose 2019 1024x576 - DJ José: "I was sweating bullets"

Sweating bullets

“That first Saturday evening when I was officially allowed to play, I was sweating bullets. I was terribly nervous. Partly because I was only seventeen and had never performed in front of an audience. Let alone that I had ever spoken through a microphone. Talking didn’t go so well that night, so I mainly focused on the music. My choice of records was appreciated from the start. The audience consisted mainly of older visitors. At the time, Chez Jean in Steenwijk was the only venue for this target group.”

Fifty guilders

“The bar had its own record collection. That was common at the time. I spent many afternoons in the midst of that collection digging through it. As a result, I learned a lot about music at a young age. Every Saturday afternoon I got new singles from Jaap Ilmer of Ilmer Records. The club gave me fifty guilders and I had to make do with that.”

DJ Jose Wooferland 2019 1024x576 - DJ José: "I was sweating bullets"

Late on the streets

“I wasn’t really supported in my DJ ambitions. My parents didn’t like the fact that I had to walk the streets so late at night. After all, I didn’t start until 9 PM and the place didn’t close until 2 AM. I did have the aforementioned Henri Kooij as my mentor. He was the manager and sometimes DJ of Chez Jean. On my debut evening, however, he was behind the bar. So he experienced my debut up close. No, I wasn’t really involved with girlfriends at that time. That came later.” (laughs)


“The set itself went well. Okay, talking through the microphone didn’t go smooth because of my stuttering, but that got better later on. I made up for it with my choice of music that evening. I soon heard from the visitors that the previous DJ often played the same records one after the other and was rather predictable. I remembered that well, so I didn’t and still don’t. That first time I also learned to talk through an intro, stuttering or not. Soon after that, I also learned to mix.”

On April 22nd DJ José is celebrating his 40th DJ anniversary with an event in Club Hart in Amsterdam. He will be joined by DJ Jean, DJ Jurgen, Alberto Costa, Orson Welsh, DJ Santino, Celeste Copini and MC Prime.

This interview with DJ José is originally published on in July 2016.

More DJ José?

Share This Post