If you were at London Fashion Week Men’s in June, you will have no doubt seen James Stewart sat on the front row or throwing some shapes on the dance floor at an after party. The first because he loves fashion (a Burberry mac is his go-to), the second because music is a huge part of his life. He lives and breathes it as a host on Heart.
But you’ll have seen James Stewart on TV too. He’s quickly rising through the ranks, becoming one of Britain’s most sought-after presenters – across every platform. He’s also caught the eye of Johnny’s Chop Shop, where he serves as an ambassador, and when you look as good at James, you know there will be more knocks on that door.
Candid sat down with James Stewart for a very candid interview to find out how he cracked the industry, his top five grooming products – the ones he can’t live without and what’s on the cards for 2018.
Hi James, can you give us a little background on your interest in music and presenting? Did you always aspire to become a presenter?
Hey guys, thanks for having me – I’m a big Candid fan.
I remember being at school, in like year eight drama class, when I’m A Celeb first came on tele’, and seeing Ant & Dec running round the jungle, and just thinking, I want to do that! I didn’t really know how to get there though, I guess with acting, most people go down the drama school route, hopefully get an agent, and you’re in the audition circuit… presenting is a little different, and people come to it in so many different ways.
For me, I worked as a runner at a production company during my holidays at university, and then I got jobs in PR, working in music and film, went to as many events as I could, met as many people as I could, filmed as much stuff on my own as I could, and with a little bit of luck, got to where I am now. Music’s always been [a] huge part of me, I got an internship at a record label, and it all kind of went from there… it’s mad getting to play those songs I worked on when I was just starting out.
You present on Heart radio station weekly; how are you finding it? Which stations did you present for prior to Heart?
I do! It’s been amazing, everything I’d hoped for and so much more. The best thing about radio for me, is it can be so intimate, it’s just you having a chat to your mate really, and playing them some tunes, and I love that. I worked a little bit with Rinse FM before, but Heart’s been my break into commercial radio, nationally.
How would you describe your shows on Heart? What music do you like to play and what topics do you like to discuss?
For me, it’s all about the music; that’s what we’re there to do! I find it interesting to speak about artists, what they’re about, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to know them a little, so I like to offer some personal insight if I can. Heart’s great for me, as I like so many different types of music, I’m a big George Michael fan, I love my 90s RnB, and right now, I think Khalid’s brilliant. I’m a big fan of Mabel and Kehlani too
What do you enjoy most about being a radio presenter?
Chatting about music! Radio’s such a great platform to introduce people to new songs, or re-introduce them to songs that they might not have heard in a while, and evoking those memories, or helping create new ones is pretty cool.
Do you enjoy engaging with the audience?
Yes! I’ve always loved doing stuff live, whether that’s theatre, TV or radio, you can never replicate that.
What is the worst or most embarrassing blip that’ve ever happened to you while live on air?
Touch wood, I’ve done ok so far! I think maybe once when I was doing an overnight, I might have got the wrong song title, but nothing disastrous so far!!
You have also done TV work; do you prefer presenting on radio or TV?
They’re great for different reasons. I love radio for the music, and talking around it, and I love TV because generally speaking, you get to work with a larger team, and often with other presenters, so that’s fun.
Aside from your presenting, we know you’re also very interested in male grooming and fashion. Did you attend any shows or spot any trends you really liked over the most recent London Fashion Week?
Yeah! Fashion’s really important for me, I love it. I try and go to as many shows as I can, it’s always great to go to designers that are new/ up-and-coming too. From a guy’s point of view, I think the 80s revival is going to be huge next year, time to get into your dad’s old wardrobe – pastels, light jeans, boxy jackets, that sort of thing.
You’re also an ambassador for Johnny’s Chop Shop. How long have you been working with them? How did you first get involved?
Coming up on one year! They’re great. I actually met them because a well-known high street fashion brand hosted an event in their barber shop, and I just got chatting!
We make some amazing YouTube content, talk about styles, show off how to cut and wear certain hair types, and talk about, and show, what’s going to be cool for next year, that sort of thing.
Can you recommend your favourite five men’s grooming products to our readers?
- Johnny’s Chop Shop Wild Cat Hair Clay – the best matte clay I’ve ever used (not even being biased).
- Le Labo, Santal 33 – my favourite scent, once you smell it once, you’ll be hooked.
- Kiehl’s Age Defender Serum – I swear by this.
- James Read Sleep Mask Tan – if you’re tired, hungover and need a little skin pick me up, forget the stereotype, a little glow is the best remedy.
- Lqd Eye Restore – I work nights often, so this is a life saver.
Which products could you not live without?
All of the above!!!
Finally, can you tell us your plans for the next year?
Well, I’m off to America in January for a little bit for something quite exciting, I can’t say much right now, but should be fun! I’ll be back on the radio and we’re working on some really fun TV stuff!
James Stewart hosts Sunday nights on Heart, tune in from 10pm.
James Stewart photographs by Joseph Sinclair.
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