Firstly, a big hello from Ibiza. 2014 has already been a monumental year for dance music, with the UK top 40 crammed with dance tracks in a level of congestion not witnessed since the 1990s. The vibrance and aesthetics of the scene have kept Ibiza bubbling over with talent, with club nights and venues aplenty changing.
With this in mind, my night, Judgement Fridays, has also moved venues, although not too far away. Ten metres over the road, to be precise. We started Judgement Sundays at Eden in 2000. Back then it was a big risk, and I had no idea that we’d still be going strong 14 years later. In fact, the brand outlived the venue. Following a period of instability, Eden was taken over by Birmingham clubbing brand Gatecrasher just before Summer 2014. By this point, I’d already decided that it was time for a re-location. The increasingly corporate feel of some clubs in Ibiza makes Es Paradis stand out all the more, especially to someone who treasures the earthiness and soul of the way clubs in Ibiza used to be. Es Paradis is a one-of-a-kind superclub, with its Roman structures and uniquely Mediterranean feel. It’s already been a flying start to our 2014 season at Es Paradis. Adding a sprinkle of the Judgement magic, we’ve made a happy home for ourselves in 2014. We’ll loop back around to Ibiza a bit later in the blog, but needless to say we’ve got big smiles and big plans for 2014/2015 in Ibiza. More info via www.judgementfridays.co.uk
We kick off on Friday 2nd May for Spanked in Evesham. I shared driving chores with my mate (also called Jules). I drove as far as Oxford, where I parked the car in the Park and Ride. He then burnt the kilometers to Evesham. It was an 800 capacity venue that I’d played once before, so I arrived without the uncertainty of not knowing what to expect. An assortment of mates were in tow – check out the pictures via the Gallery section of the site. Adam Sinclair AKA Adjected Deleted was promoting/playing on the night, somebody who I’ve been supporting for many years on my radio show. After a great set and plenty more photos we hit the bumpy road back to London.
The next day (3rd May) I headed up to Belfast. Although I’ve played Northern Ireland regionally, I’ve not spun in Belfast for a while. Flying in from London Heathrow, the winds into Belfast can be quite unpredictable, making it one of the hairiest places to land at, compounded by the short runway at Belfast City Airport. I played Mono Nightclub, a fairly intimate venue that I’d never done before. The gig was well attended and it was a welcome contrast doing something more on the intimate side, being that the majority of my shows are in larger venues/festivals. The growth of DJ culture has generated many clubs where the DJ booth is situated a long way out of reach of the crowd. Give me close contact any day of the week, which is what Mono offered. Afterwards, the hotel was about 30 seconds from the club. If only every night out could operate with such synchronicity.
My next outing was on Friday 16th May, for a double header in the South West of England. Spending the majority of my childhood holidays in Cornwall, the place certainly holds a special place in my heart. I also have a large amount of family living there, including my uncle, chef Rick Stein. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to visit any family on this occasion – I’d left the office in London and my legal day-job at 6pm and flown down from London Gatwick. The first port of call was Boxx Hayle, a relatively small venue which was packed to the rafters. Afterwards, the club kindly provided a driver to whisk me to my next gig, which was Karanga’s 20th Birthday reunion in Bath. I used to play Karanga all the time in the 90s; it was a major institution. Therefore it was no surprise that the reunion brought such huge numbers out of their front doors in 2014. Traffic en route was kind to us on the 180 mile journey. We were only ten minutes away in the car, and running to time, when we were forced onto one of those extremely annoying motorway diversions, taking us about 30 miles off course. Thankfully we weren’t the only DJs late due to the motorway calamity, so the set times ran a little later than planned. It was rather a special moment seeing so many blasts from the past alongside clubbers from the 2014 generation.
The next day was Arsenal’s first appearance in the FA cup Final for 9 years, an un-missable occasion – I had two tickets in very good seats. A couple of years ago the FA decided to move the Final time back from 3pm to 5pm, sticking two fingers up at tradition. I’d attended most of Arsenal’s previous finals in the past 15 years and succeeded in getting to gigs afterwards. However, the 5pm kick-off was a big problem for me as I was due to fly to Benidorm, Spain for a gig later that evening. After searching for a workable flight into every airport within a 300 mile radius, including options flying into the South of France and driving, I couldn’t find anything that allowed me attend the game and make the gig on the same night. The one thing about being a lawyer is that I have no excuse to break a contract, and my attendance was signed, sealed and delivered. Having got over the trauma of missing the match, but also having established that I’d be able to watch it in a sports bar, Amanda and I arrived into Benidorm. It was my debut at the venue, Jokers, and my first Benidorm visit for 9 years. The promoter put us into the picturesque Melia golf resort hotel with panoramic views over the city. After rather too many beers watching the football, a recovery siesta, in advance of a 3am set, was an absolute necessity. The club was slap bang in the town centre, as opposed to when I last played Benidorm, when I was based in a strip of clubs on the road out of town, which are rather inconveniently located. We had a lovely 36 hours in Spain, marking the beginning of my 2014 resort season.
On Wednesday 21st May my two worlds, as entertainment lawyer and DJ, combined, as I headed over to IMS in Ibiza, representing Sheridans’ interests. IMS takes place annually and has become one of the major institutions in dance music conferences, alongside ADE in Amsterdam and, of course, WMC in Miami.
My legal clients include DJs, musicians, labels, managers, start-ups, TV production companies, brands and other businesses in the electronic music sphere. Many were in attendance for two days of meetings and events, taking place at the all new Hard Rock Hotel in Playa D’en Bossa. Music conferences tend to be in quite ‘rock’n’roll’ locations and it’s hard to convince folk back at the office that you are there to network and get work done, as opposed to partying hard. But that was the truth, and I accomplished plenty. Each night, IMS held a showpiece early evening event high in the battlement walls of Ibiza’s old town (or Dalt Vila). As Balearic the sun went down on the Wednesday there was a special tribute to the sadly departed legend, Frankie Knuckles. His image was projected 100 feet across the centuries-old walls of Ibiza old town whilst 1000s of clubbers danced open -air to his classics. It was really quite moving.
After completing meetings on the Friday I decided to check out a couple of Ibiza clubs in advance of setting off home from the airport. We headed over to Es Paradis for the opening of Fiesta Del Agua, the event with whom we’ve joined forces in summer 2014. For those of you who haven’t been to Es Paradis, it’s well worth checking out (especially Fridays!) Es P embraces the trippy theme of bringing the outside, inside. It’s floor-to-ceiling full of lush vegetation, like a nocturnal Kew Gardens. The club was nice and busy, wetting my appetite for getting underway with Judgement 2014. More info via www.esparadis.com
Sunday 25th May was my first UK festival appearance of 2014, as I played the legendary Volksfest in Plymouth. It was a double header on this Bank Holiday Sunday, with an almost unrealistic drive between gigs (from Plymouth in the South West to Chelmsford, Essex (near London)). My brother Sam was on Road Manager duties and we headed down to Plymouth first. On arrival, the tent in which I was due play in was probably half full, but this didn’t deter. I was DJing around sunset-time, which is probably one of the best times to play at a festival. As the sun goes down everybody rushes into the tents, which is precisely what happened. Craig Connelly was playing before me and It’s always nice to check out the musical influences of a fellow producer. After finishing on the decks with a rammed out tent, Sam and I immediately wheelspun up to Essex. We made it with just 5 minutes to spare at Miya in Chelmsford.
On the subject of my brother Sam, his legendary ‘Serious’ clubbing brand, that took London’s The Cross by storm back in the day, has been re-born and is now based in San Diego, California and headed up by Tristan D. Check out www.seriousworld.com for more information.
On Friday 30th May I headed up to Scotland to play Kitty’s in Kircaldy. I chatted with the DJ on before me, Marko Liv, who got me extremely excited for Ibiza. This year he’s spending his first season on the island, promoting and DJing at some of the biggest clubs. We discussed 2014 strategies and some cool ideas for the season ahead. In the early nineties, it took me quite a few years to establish a firm foothold in Ibiza, so the number of quality residencies, including Pukka Up and Pacha, that Marko had secured in his maiden season was very impressive. Gig-wise, the Scottish club was typically noisy and I always love playing in this corner of the UK.
The next day I headed over to Carmarthen in Wales for 2Gether Festival, once again playing the sunset set, although it was a contrast to the muddy fields of Volksfest a week earlier. Whilst it wasn’t exactly Mediterranean summer weather, 20 degrees and clear skies in South Wales was a cue for shorts, vests and a general sense of underdressing amongst the crowd. That’s a UK summer for you – at a time when our Mediterranean cousins would still be donning their overcoats. The tent was packed, the crowd chanted throughout, and all my newest tunes were thrown down. What more could one ask for, with the rolling hills making for great backdrop. Check out the pictures via the Gallery section of the site.
Onto June the 1st. I played Solar in Navan, Ireland. Whereas in the UK we have a bank holiday during the last week of May, in the Irish Republic it’s a week later. As you can imagine, Irish bank holidays are somewhat crazy. The club was rocking and I played alongside Irish DJ/Producer/Mate, Paul Webster, who’s coming to play for us in Ibiza on 19th September. Suffice to say that I look forward to every Irish Bank Holiday experience.
Next up was a DJ disaster. On Tuesday 3rd June I was booked to play at Rescue on the Greek party island of Zante. Due to flight times and itineraries, the journey there involved a train to Gatwick, flight to Athens then a 240-mile car journey to the Adriatic ferry port of Killini to cross over to Zante by sea. After such a monumental journey and roughly ten hours travelling, I arrived at the port only to be told that the weather was too severe for the crossing by boat. Trust me, I was all for throwing on a life jacket and holding on for dear life, but they weren’t having any of it. The captain of the boat travelling over from Zante wouldn’t leave its shores, as the seas were too rough. With zero sleep, I headed back home to London with my metaphorical tail between my legs and my tunes still in their box. If you were there that night expecting to see me, apologies, if I could have swum there I would have. Very sorry guys…
The next outing was on Friday 6th June to Earth Nightclub in Derry. I always enjoy a trip to Derry – being the second largest city in Northern Ireland it always makes for a good party. The club had a booming sound system and it’s always a warm feeling to see so many friendly faces in attendance. The next morning, as I have countless times this year, I flew back to London Heathrow. I think they should give me a small apartment in T5 considering how often I transit through, but they’d probably reject the idea and turn it into yet more retail space.
Later that day, on 7th June, my brother and I headed up to West Yorkshire, where I was playing the Batley Frontier. We took the opportunity of us both being together to go and see our Dad, who lives around half an hour away in Holmfirth. Being from London, the contrast with undulating scenic Yorkshire couldn’t be more extreme. We had some dinner before Sam grabbed 30 winks, and at around 11pm we headed to the club. After a period of inactivity, Batley Frontier has re-opened and is doing extremely well. After an all too rare combination of work and family time, Sam drove me snoring all the way back to London, arriving just as the sun was coming up.
On Tuesday 10th June, I played my first Judgement @ BCM Mallorca show of 2014. Being my longest-standing residency, the place holds a very special place in my heart. Gordon Philips, BCM manager, is one of the biggest characters of dance music and always succeeds in putting a smile on my face. Gordon knows absolutely everybody in dancemusic, from DJs through to agents through to promoters, and I always join him for a couple of drinks before heading down and lining up my tunes for the night. BCM monopolises the resort of Magaluf so comprehensively that the next biggest club in the resort is less than a quarter of its size, and its seasonal line-up is the A-Z of global electronic music talent. Judgement will be there every Tuesday, alternating between BBC Radio 1’s Danny Howard and myself. Check out www.bcmplanetdance.com for more info.
On Friday 13th, I headed up to Edinburgh. Leaving the office straight after a day of legal manoeuvres, I headed immediately for LHR. During peak hours British Airways use a long haul Boeing 767 on the relatively short route to increase business capacity, and it was strange being in such a giant plane on such a minor hop. On arrival into EDI I saw the new Tram system finally working, which seemed to have been under construction forever. Travelling into Edinburgh by more old-fashioned means (a car, as opposed to a horse and cart), I played City Nightclub, somewhere I’ve spun before. During my set I tested out my new track ‘Fiesta Del Judgement’, having completed the final touches on the flight up to EDI. As a little summer gift, I decided to give the track away FREE for download, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.
Finally, we wrap up this instalment with my commencement of Ibiza 2014. As I mentioned earlier, making the move to Es Paradis was a huge decision. On Friday 20th June we launched Judgement Fridays 2014 with Micky Slim and Harrison playing alongside me. Flying straight after leaving the office meant that I arrived into Ibiza just before midnight, taking into account the +1 hour time difference. On arrival I went straight to the first pre-party at Play2 in San Antonio to throw down a 20-minute preview of the soundtrack to come later that night. I was apprehensive, as you can imagine with a new venue for the brand. But on arrival to Es Paradis and seeing a packed club, it immediately dulled any pre-disco butterflies. We’re extremely excited for the rest of summer 2014. I’ll be joined on the decks by a whole host of DJ buddies, for full summer-long information check out esparadis.com
If you’re coming to Ibiza this summer and you want to be in with a chance of winning a pair of Judgement tickets, simply answer this question. How many years has Judgement been running for? If you’ve been reading carefully you’ll know the answer… Email your answer, along with your name and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Speak to you again soon… Jx