On The Record: James Coles
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Dreams and aspirations never come with an expiration date for James Coles.
As the DJ and radio veteran embarks up 2014 — his 34th as a working DJ — he has the same zest and ambition as when he played his first club gig at 13 years old.
For Coles, squeezing every ounce of positivity and using it as fuel helps him stay motivated. He always finds a way to live in the moment while remaining a student of the game.
“All I can say is this: follow your passion.” said Coles.“ I just do what I love, period. If I’m not having fun at what I’m doing, I stop it.”
His most humbling, rock-bottom moments have shaped him into the positive man he is today. Long since removed from a life driven by power, ego and substance abuse, Coles remains one of the hardest working men in the industry.
Through the triumphs and missteps, setting limitations on himself has never been a part of the equation.
“I’m extremely lucky and I’m grateful to have never worked a day in my life,” said Coles. “I’m extremely blessed to have the people around me who make me want to keep going.”
“The business” is all he’s ever known and aspired to be a part of. Reliving the party days of his youth or hogging the spotlight of today’s party scene are the two farthest things from his mind.
Coles said dropping jams and a fair share of knowledge go hand-in-hand. These day, the desire to give back is as strong as it’s ever been for him.
“You have to learn all aspects of whatever it is you are into,” he said. “I had to learn all that was available to paint better pictures. I needed to have more brushes. Learn everything you can in your particular field and keep going.”
A project he can’t wait to rekindle is Musical Youth of Hawaii, a non-profit school focused on teaching teens the art of DJing and important aspects of the radio and music business. The program, which operated from 2003 to 2011, will return this summer.
“If it’s a fire inside you follow it, pursue it,” said Coles. “Don’t be the could-have, would-have dude or the could-have, would-have girl.”
Aside from his professional endeavors, Coles has become obsessed with health and exercise — and he’s not shy to let the world know about it. In 18 months, Coles has lost more than 80 pounds; his waistline has shrunk from 48 inches to 36 inches.
“I can honestly say I have never ever in my life felt this good,” he said. “I try to eat all organic. I’m glad I (saw) the light … I’m all about clean eats. You got to keep that in check. That will kill you slowly.”
Coles, who starts each day walking five miles on a treadmill, intends to implement these healthy living components into his Musical Youth of Hawaii curriculum. He also aspires to become a certified health coach to inspire people from all walks of life.
“If you are trying to be the best you can be, in whatever career you decide to get into, you can’t do the absolute best if you’re nutrition and health is not right,” he said.
While doing things for the right reasons seems to be an ongoing theme from the well-versed DJ, at 46 years old can the infamous James Coles still turn up?
“The moment I can’t walk into a room — any room — and not turn it up, I’ll hang my headphones,” he said. “That hasn’t happened yet. I can walk into a room of 50- and 60-year-olds and turn up. I can walk into a room of teens and turn up. I will continue to turn up!”
Catch James Coles on 93.9 Jamz weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. He will also spin at “Lala Land,” a teen dance massive at The Underground in Chinatown and Sideline Bar and Grill in Kalihi for “Battle of the Decades;” both events are on Sunday, Jan. 19.
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.