Jaguar is a broadcaster and DJ representing the next wave of emerging talent on her BBC Radio 1 show, Introducing Dance.
Jaguar Bingham is every bit as memorable as her name. Hailing from Alderney in the Channel Islands, but based in East London, the 27-year-old broadcaster, DJ and journalist, known mononymously as Jaguar, is among the new guard of multi-hyphenate talents steering UK dance music towards brighter waters. She’s a next-gen tastemaker instigating change through projects such as UTOPIA and The Jaguar Foundation.
Jaguar’s work to date, spanning from her radio internship at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra in 2014 to more recent endeavours such as her landmark BBC Introducing on Radio 1 Dance show, has been anchored by a desire to spotlight new artists and minority voices within electronic music. It’s what drew her to BBC Introducing – a platform devoted to unsigned and emerging musicians – in the first place. In 2016, Jaguar joined the crew as Team Assistant at the station’s Sheffield HQ. At the time, she was studying English Literature at Leeds University. (A move, says Jaguar, spurred on by the city’s reputation for vibrant nightlife.) Each week, she would rifle through tunes submitted to the BBC Uploader by new artists. “I was listening to all the dance tracks and sending them to Danny and Monki, and Annie's shows and Pete's shows,” says Jaguar, who later worked for BBC Introducing’s Central Team in London, “so I was ready, even then, for my own show.”
That moment came in 2020, when Jaguar launched the BBC Introducing Dance show on Radio 1. A defining moment in Jaguar’s career to date, the show has been met with critical acclaim. In 2021, Mixmag named her Broadcaster of the Year – a poignant accolade, given it was there that Jaguar’s voice and face became synonymous with its weekly office party, the LAB LDN. “I fell in love with dance music at the LAB LDN,” says Jaguar on her time at Mixmag, where she also worked as Weekend Editor for a time. “It was really special.”
Elsewhere, she was awarded Best Radio Show for BBC Introducing Dance through a public vote at last year’s DJ Mag Best of British Awards. The magazine had previously dubbed her “UK radio’s next gen champion”. More recently, Jaguar was tapped to co-present this year’s IMS alongside summit co-founder Pete Tong MBE.
Keen to diversify her work, Jaguar has also produced and voiced documentaries for radio on topics such as LGBTQIA+ safe space clubbing and written articles spotlighting unsung Black women pioneers in house music. She was also Beatportal’s Guest Editor in August 2021, and previously helmed a show on South London community station Reprezent Radio, which she dedicated to new music and guests such as HAAi, Anja Schneider and Dance System.
In September 2020, Jaguar turned her attention to parties. She launched an event, UTOPIA, with the brand later branching out into a UTOPIA Talks conference and podcast. The latter welcomed SHERELLE, Mary-Anne Hobbs, Sama’ and many more in its first season. “I describe UTOPIA as my vision of the world,” says Jaguar, reflecting on the brand at large and the very first UTOPIA club night: a sold-out celebration at London’s Night Tales. “It’s a world I'm trying to get to through all of the work I do: radio, DJing and so on. It's a community.” Speaking of communities, Jaguar was inspired by some of the queer parties and venues she’d encountered previously as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Dalston Superstore, say, or Leeds’ Wharf Chambers.
Elsewhere, she’s thrilled to be sharing her latest project, The Jaguar Foundation, with the world. A partnership with Ministry of Sound and Sony Music UK Social Justice Fund, Jaguar described the foundation as a “home for my long-term commitment to [equalising] music through more forward-thinking initiatives and partnerships” in an op-ed she penned for the Independent. The Jaguar Foundation released its first report on the state of gender equality in UK dance music at last month’s IMS. Furthermore, the foundation’s first initiative, Future1000, saw Jaguar collaborating with in-school music education platform Virtuoso (fka FutureDJs) on a free, UK-wide DJ, production and leadership programme which introduced 1000 female, trans and non-binary students aged 12-18 to the music industry. A major move for the industry and Jaguar alike.
Tackling issues such as gender imbalance, representation and accessibility within the industry at a foundational level, the initiative provided curious minds with artist-led sessions with the likes of Jyoty, Jayda G and Bklava and course modules curated by the London College of Music Education. “I wanted the students to feel represented, supported, and comfortable,” explains Jaguar. “It can be scary learning to DJ. I wanted them to feel they were in an environment where they feel safe to explore their interests.”
Future1000 was brought to life during the pandemic. It was then that Jaguar, amid the chaos of the time, recognised what her purpose was – and had been for some time, subconsciously – within the industry: amplifying marginalised and undiscovered artists and DJs. “It made me look inward,” says Jaguar on lockdown. “I realised I’m never going to be the loudest person. My way of expressing myself comes through my work and making it clear that I’m going to spotlight not just great music, but great music from women, and Black, brown, trans and non-binary people.”
Born to a Ghanaian mother and English father, Jaguar cites the “lineage of Ghanaian women” on her mother’s side, along with her girlfriend, as continued inspirations. Though it was her father who taught her to always go the extra mile and dream big. (She reckons she’s also inherited his work ethic.) She looks up to fellow tastemakers such as Annie Mac and The Blessed Madonna, as well as Clara Amfo and Honey Dijon.
This admiration is entirely reciprocated. Jaguar is a regular at the Annie Mac-curated Lost and Found Festival in Malta, for instance, where she treats sun-kissed ravers to her signature cocktail of genre-hopping, feel-good bubblers. She has previously supported Annie at venues across the UK, including Warehouse Project and the Pickle Factory. In 2018, Jaguar was mentored by The Blessed Madonna for the Smirnoff Equalising Music campaign. It was a spectacular ‘pinch-me’ moment that solidified her incredible career trajectory up until then.
Let’s rewind though, for a second. Growing up on Alderney, it was the video games that initially piqued Jaguar’s interest in immersive electronic music and world-building through sound design. “I’d play Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts,” she recalls. “I loved fantasy games, they’ve got such incredible soundtracks. I’ve actually started gaming again, since lockdown. Seven-year-old me would be excited to see it.”
Her older brother exposed her to much of the music that eventually shaped her personal taste. (Her brother’s collection, that is, along with teenage summers spent raving in WWII
bunkers on the island). Back when they were kids, he would transfer tunes from his Limewire-acquired collection to her iPod. “I'd listen to Kanye West and the Chemical Brothers,” she says with a grin so infectious you can’t help but smile too. “I remember hearing Timbaland's Shock Value for the first time, as well as Gorillaz's Demon Days.” A love for pop music soon blossomed, with Beyoncé, Black-Eyed Peas and emo/pop-punk outfit Evanescence, along with Aussie sisterly duo the Veronicas, among her favourites back then.
Her affinity for electronic music and genres such as house, techno and disco, along with jungle, drum’n’bass and stacks more floor-filling styles, merged with an interest in student radio while in Leeds. “I loved the way talking about music, discovering music and presenting it to an audience made me feel,” she says of the days spent presenting and producing her own student radio show, Dangerous Jag. In 2016, Jaguar won two coveted Studio Radio Awards. “It was like winning an Oscar at the time!” she laughs.
Since her first stint on the airwaves, it’s been clear Jaguar possesses a natural talent for bonding with listeners via a shared love for great music. Not only that, but a determination to uplift those around her. See, Jaguar isn’t content with making a name for herself alone. Instead, she strives to rise through the ranks side by side with her peers. Take her recent run of headline UK shows with UTOPIA, which saw her inviting Future1000 alumni Badly Drawn Banana aboard the HMS UTOPIA for an intimate party on the Thames.
Looking ahead, Jaguar is a resident at iconic hotspot Pikes Ibiza this season, with shows also confirmed at storied venues such as DC10 and Amnesia. Elsewhere, she’ll set out on a must-see European tour of her own, hitting up events such as Glastonbury, Circoloco and Radio 1’s Big Weekend this spring and summer. Jaguar will also fly UTOPIA out to Ibiza for a pair of unmissable White Isle shows, and make her US debut this October at CRSSD Festival. She’s also ideating on future film and documentary projects.
She’d like to write some books down the line, and live out her childhood dreams by dabbling in TV presenting. She also plans to grow UTOPIA into a festival one day and aspires to host the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury. We can expect future club sets to include specially-produced edits of tracks made by Jaguar’s friends, too. A neat touch, one that’s very much in keeping with the spirit of togetherness that permeates through all that Jaguar does. Togetherness, authenticity and the delightful purveyance of effervescent dance music: these are the calling cards of Jaguar.