London-based DJ and radio presenter Janelle Wynter launched her mix series WYNTERS WONDERLIST when the world needed it most – in lockdown. She took a risk and believed in her vision, and today she’s turned her mix series into an IRL event series at venues like the Hackney Social that spotlights London’s hottest upcoming artists. Behind Janelle Wynter’s WYNTERS WONDERLIST mix is a commitment to uplifting new and unsigned artists and connecting them to a global community of like-minded creatives.
Janelle’s selections, DJ style and events are beloved by Londoners. She set up the music platform Trap n Twerk LDN, has been part of the UK festival scene for years, and collaborated with brands like Nike, BBC 1Xtra, Boxpark — the list goes on.
Her mixes series is not only a regular fixture in the Mixcloud charts but a great example of bringing a concept to life. We invited her to talk about what motivated the project and the lessons she learned along the way.
What planted the seed for your WYNTERS WONDERLIST Mixcloud series? How did it develop?
WYNTERS WONDERLIST was birthed during the pandemic in 2021. I was receiving so much amazing music from all around the world and it was too much to fit within my radio show. I would get so many messages and emails asking for my thoughts on their music, and it was like, “wow”. For me, this is the song you made – all I'm doing is giving that extra hand to get it out there to newer ears that you might not have a chance to. It’s a small thing but they're just really grateful. So, I began listening and selecting my favorites, recording a mix, and editing the audio to add intros, jingles, etc. I would make the artwork and then upload it to Mixcloud and Instagram. From there I was focused on growing the community and listeners.
“You don't know who's going to listen to a mix, especially on Mixcloud. It’s a super global audience."
What originally brought you to Mixcloud?
I’m not just saying this, but Mixcloud is my favorite platform. You don't know who's going to listen to a mix, especially on Mixcloud. It’s a super global audience, the listeners are everywhere. My Mixcloud shows could end up being played at house parties halfway across the world, who knows!?
I also get a lot of love and support from the platform. The charts are so sick. I would see WYTNER WONDERLIST mixes go for the 27th, the 15th, and then the 10th place. Then I'd see them go number one! It makes a big difference, especially for the people in the mix – they get so gassed. When I post it, they repost and tag it. You can feel the excitement, you can feel the appreciation, especially if I don’t know them. I've been in the charts so many times now and every time I go in there I’m like, damn! *dusts shoulder.*
What convinced you to take WYNTERS WONDERLIST into the real world as a new event series?
After the first anniversary of the mix series, I was looking for ways to grow the brand. The mix series had developed such a strong following and interest, and had established a feel of what the brand was or “the sound.” The mix series shaped the idea behind the live event. If you saw me drop a WYNTERS WONDERLIST mix, you'd know what feel you're going to get. You wouldn't know what songs you were going to hear but you would know what sound you’d get. All that was left was for me to plan it out.
“My biggest advice is if you have an idea and you can put pen to paper, then you can do it”
What were the very first steps you took in bringing the event to life?
So, first I sat down and figured out how I would want the live events to be formatted. My biggest advice to everyone, anyone, is if you have an idea and you can put pen to paper and write it out, then you can do it. Anyway, I reached out to a few venues and collaborated with The Hackney Social & Black Eats (Black-owned businesses) which were a perfect fit and feel of what I wanted the first WYNTERS WONDERLIST event to be like. I actually used the Mixcloud series to show venues the concept, since at that point I didn’t have anything else to show, or what any of the previous events were like, since it was the first one.
I then listened back to all the mixes, chose my top favorite tracks, and reached out to the artists to ask if they’d like to be part of the show. They could perform any song they wanted as long as they performed the song that was on one of the WYNTERS WONDERLIST tapes, plus whatever else they wanted. So I gave them each 15 minutes.
Was this your first experience running events? Any top tips for promoters starting out?
I had already thrown events with Trap N Twerk, but WYNTERS WONDERLIST was different since it’s more artist-centric and less of a party. But the first thing that comes up when I'm doing events is I need the venue to make sense. Don't just throw events in any venue that wants to have you.
One of the reasons I chose Hackney Social is because we align on values and support each other. Not all venues have the right feel, and the first event is going to leave everyone with the strongest impression. With that said, the first one might not be perfect and that’s okay, you can fix it next time around. Before I thought that as long as it was a local venue and they wanted to host us, let's do it. Now I feel like I've said “no” so much more to spaces and venues. So learn to say no if it doesn’t fit the vision.
For WYNTERS WONDERLIST, it all happened organically really. I don't really start something with the intention of “I want money from it.” I don't think I've ever started an idea or started a project with that mindset and I think that's why it goes well. The main questions I focus on are: What do I want to give back? What do I want people to get out of it? What do I want to leave them with? What do I want them to remember?
Also, finally and most importantly, I made sure everyone got paid. That's one thing with my brands: I make sure nobody does anything for free. Even if it's a little piece of change, travel expenses, food, or drink, it makes a big difference.
“One of the reasons I chose Hackney Social is because we align on values and support each other.
What was your approach when curating the artist lineups for the events?
I wanted only up-and-coming and unsigned artists. Also, good people who would uplift the community. Like, you have to be a good person as well as having good music. I don't care if your music is outstanding, good vibes only. In terms of DJs, I didn’t put too much emphasis on the DJs in terms of like, “oh, what genre do you play?” WYNTERS WONDERLIST is more about the artists and the performances.
What has been your most challenging aspect of launching WYNTERS WONDERLIST IRL, and what was the most rewarding moment?
I’d say the most challenging aspect was logistics, like the actual events and how they ran – making sure everything ran smoothly. Down to all the artists, photographers, DJs, etc. To me, the most rewarding part was everyone had an amazing time, all the artists were able to leave feeling good, appreciated, and inspired.
They were coming off stage and people were going up straight to them exchanging Instagram details and emails, and also linking with producers. It was so rewarding seeing everyone connect like that and I just felt that the event is doing what it should do!
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