It’s an unusually drizzly evening in Albania, and Jamie Roy is loading up the decks, shirtless, as four people huddle around holding his T-shirt over the music equipment. “Fuck this”, they decide as the rain gets a little heavier, and scurry off to the roofed, open-air bar nearby.
Under that roof, the making of Jamie Roy was about to be seen on a global scale. It was the afterparty of Unum - the first fully-fledged festival to take place in Europe after long months of lockdown and a beacon for an incoming tidal wave of events. And the energy, much like Jamie’s own, was palpable. Videos of the historic set quickly spread online circulating every major dance music platform around and led just one year later to Jamie’s own Ministry of Sound remix of the set’s finale track from Oden & Fatzo. From breakthrough DJ to star on a global scale, it was the weekend that made all of Jamie’s successive career dreams a reality.
Jamie Roy was a maverick when it came to music. His sudden passing on Tuesday, September 20, sent shockwaves through the music industry and beyond - a widely loved figure, the life of every party, and a true force of nature. Humble in his disposition and brave in his experimentation, Jamie always navigated life with a beaming smile on his face and an impossibly ecstatic attitude toward his music, friends, and fans.
In his short 33 years, Jamie broke through as one of dance music’s brightest new stars, paying respect to house music of many forms - from scorching tech-house sets to bouncing Detroit-inspired cuts. There was little Jamie didn’t show off in his extended performances, and that went to show by his newly burgeoning fanbase.
Though born in the Scottish town of Dumfries, Jamie spent the best part of his career hopping around the White Isle. He established himself in Scotland’s eccentric music scene after breaking through in Glasgow, and spent the next nine consecutive summers in Ibiza — first as a cabby for the Ibiza Music Summit driving around dance music royalty and shifting club tickets on the beach in San Antonio, later seeing how that other half live as he became a solid household name on the island. By 2019, Jamie had picked up a residency at Nic Fanciulli's Dance Or Die parties at Ushuaïa, played legendary White Isle club Space, and held down another residency at Steve Lawler’s weekly VIVa Warriors nights. The stars were aligning for Jamie, and it was only looking up.
As the trajectory continued, Jamie became a regular cheeky face on the Ibiza circuit. He soon locked in another weekly slot at Ibiza Rocks’ Cuckoo Land pool party, and from there, picked up more shows around the world. The jet-set DJ - who even hosted his own party on board a plane - was now playing, partying, and networking in Miami, Cancun, Berlin, London, Costa Rica, you name it - and as he grew exceptionally more in demand, so did his productions. Soon after his stellar career-rocketing set at Unum, he landed a release on Patrick Topping's Trick label with the undeniable fist-pumper ‘Organ Belta’.
‘Organ Belta’ gave Jamie the recognition he needed to transcend, and while he’d already teased the track endlessly over the summer of 2021, the love it received upon release solidified its immeasurable popularity. It was a homage to modern house music but sounded fresher than most, parining a jackin’, catchy bassline with the track’s anthemic organ sample. First premiered on BBC Radio 1 by Danny Howard last September, the song quickly caught wind and was the source of inspiration behind a line of clothing that phonetesised the track’s thumping sample as a T-shirt print. The single was played consistently on national radio for weeks on end, quickly hitting number one on Beatport’s house music chart. Since then, it’s been a wild ride for the hallowed DJ and producer.
What’s left in the wake of Jamie Roy is the energy that he passed on to the music world. Jamie was an infectiously fun, good-spirited character with so many glorious years ahead, taken much too soon. A friend to everyone he interacted with, Jamie became an integral part of the electronic community who now come together to celebrate his life and pay their respects to a man who helped change the pace of current house music — Skream, Michael Bibi, Sam Divine, Ewan McVicar, and Special Request amongst many, many more. What’s most unforgiving, is that he was only just getting started. Dance music will never feel the same without Jamie Roy’s irreplaceable energy.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter