Musically-gifted and energetic
Regular gigs at one of Oslo’s hottest nightspots or spinning records at weddings: As a DJ, Norwegian-Filipino Jasper Mesina De Claro has a positive approach to all challenges.
He looks astonishingly refreshed, especially considering that he was DJing the night before at Angst Bar – one of the capital’s hippest nightspots.
You need to be energetic and upbeat when performing for people who are out to enjoy themselves and have a good time. So I’ll have a few drinks over the course of a long night behind the DJ booth. But I make sure to never overdo it. It’s important to have control. I’ve had a few mishaps in the past and have learned over time, Jasper says and laughs.
RAISED IN A FILIPINO COMMUNITYHe is the type of person who radiates energy and good vibes, while he is also humble, friendly and easy to talk to. Verbal and humorous. Gentle and focused gaze. A good man, simply put. I’ve always been energetic. I received many warnings at school for disrupting class. Not because I did anything serious, but because I could never sit still and was always all over the place. I talked a lot and always kept a high pace, Jasper explains with a broad smile.
Jasper’s mother first arrived in Norway in the late 70s to work, and initially lived in Tromsø. A few years later, she moved to Førde and then brought her husband – Jasper’s father – to Norway. After a few years, the family moved to Oslo, and in 1988, Jasper was born. In other words, he is a second-generation immigrant, and has a sister and a brother.
- I feel at least as Filipino as Norwegian. There’s a strong identity there, with customs and traditions and ways of thinking that will never disappear on my part.I attended St. Sunniva School, and had many friends with a similar background to mine. That is, Norwegian-Filipinos who are either born in Norway or arrived at a young age. In my grade alone, there were eight of us from the Philippines. The Filipino community in Oslo was closely knit at that time. Almost everyone knew one another.
At St. Sunniva and with the Filipino friends I had, there was in many ways a sort of bubble. We learned the Norwegian language and ways but also wanted to preserve our own language and Filipino culture. I am still in contact with many of my childhood friends.
Over time, an increasing number of Filipinos arrived in Norway, and I think people feel a sort of unity and belonging when they meet, but I don’t know “everyone” in the way I did before, since the community has become so big.
STRONG IDENTITYNaturally, Jasper speaks perfect Norwegian. However, what is truly impressive is that he also speaks fluent Filipino. His parents and the Filipino community have done a good job in this regard, as it is easy for second-generation immigrants to lose their mother tongue.
I speak more or less fluent Filipino, yes. And this is something I’m happy about. But if I’m in the Philippines to visit relatives, people probably hear that my Filipino is not perfect, he he.
I feel at least as Filipino as Norwegian. There’s a strong identity there, with customs and traditions and ways of thinking that will never disappear on my part.
There are many things that draw me towards the Philippines, but the food is perhaps the strongest factor, ha ha. Filipino food is superior. Jasper has relatives in the Philippines and has been there many times. Most of the contact with the homeland is via his parents. His mother calls home at least a couple of times a week. But Jasper has also vacationed there on his own, and then he always makes sure to drop by for a visit.
There’s a lot of beautiful nature and exciting things to experience there. At the same time, there are also many things that make you reflect on how privileged we are to live in Norway. Hurricanes and destructions, homelessness, poverty and street children. It hurts to witness, and it keeps you grounded.
MUSICAL IMPULSES FROM BIG BROTHERFrom an early age, music was a great passion for Jasper, or Jas as he is known to his friends. Already at the age of six he began playing the piano. Although he loved basketball and also soccer, music became increasingly important. He was particularly interested in rhythm. Young Jasper often went around drumming on various objects with a beat in his head, and this is a habit he has also continued into adulthood.
I got many impulses and musical inspirations from my big brother, and much of the music I enjoyed came from him. And this is largely the music I have carried with me. Much of what I play during my DJ sets nowadays is music that I grew up on. Old R&B like Bobby Brown, Janet Jackson and many others. And especially hip hop from that era. I also include new music, but to me it doesn’t feel as good as the old stuff.
It was thanks to his good network that Jasper was able to get a foothold in the industry and try his luck as a DJ. My best friend Mike, who’s a photographer and knows many people in the music communities, has always known that I was keen on playing music, enjoyed mixing tracks and making my own stuff. Through him I got to know the rapper Arif, who is among the biggest in Norway right now. Arif pushed and motivated me and introduced me to people he knew. I have watched other DJs, studied how they do things and learned to use the equipment on my own. Over time, I got work here and there.
- As the night progressed, more and more request started coming in [...]. Luckily I had an intenret connection and could find tracks as we went.. people was rockin' out!The job at Angst Bar was something I had to push for, even though I already knew the owner, Misgina. He initially felt that the bar had a musical profile that didn’t fit with the stuff I was doing. But after a set I did at Internasjonalen, on a night when I believe Misgina was also present, he gave me the chance at Angst. I would not be where I am today had it not been for Internasjonalen and Angst.
BANGLA WEDDINGDespite the hip spots and the high degree of coolness; Jasper is not averse to taking all kinds of jobs, as long as he thinks they are fun. Weddings and other events, no problem. And he is not overly concerned about perhaps having to step outside his own taste in music on some occasions. Jasper is most interested in the overall experience the job offers him.
The most enjoyable wedding gig I’ve done was a large Indian wedding. Your wedding day is perhaps the most important day of your life, and I understand that people don’t want anything to go wrong, like the DJ playing music that scares away the guests. So I asked them what they wanted me to play, but the bride and groom just said “Jas, go ahead, do as you like”. So I started my set and over the course of the night there were plenty of requests from the guests for Bangla music, and that was fun. Fortunately, I had Wi-Fi and could download things throughout, and everyone had a great time. Seeing the response and joy is the reason I do this.
Very few people in Norway earn a living solely from DJing, and for Jasper, it is the job as department manager at the shop YME in Paleet, that is his main source of income.
I’m actually able to balance my day-job with my night-job quite well, he says. I’ve had gigs the nigh before and arrived home late, only to get up early the next day and go to work. It’s tough to get up, but it can be combined if you have control, and I think it’s worth it.
The DJing jobs are a nice side income, but, obviously, it would be a dream to earn a living from it.