Judge Jules: Master, Innovator, Creator, Leader – one DJ that has been there, done that and done it all again.
I wanted to start this instalment with a tribute to one of the most influential individuals in the history of electonic music, Frankie Knuckles. During my formative years it was the music that Frankie made/showcased that helped to inspire me and a generation of music fanatics to carve their own DJ careers. His remix of the Nightwriters ‘Let the music use you’ remains my favourite record of all time. I was fortunate enough to know Frankie; he was a truly wonderful kind, humble and engaging guy and will be sorely missed… RIP legend.
Onwards to a run-down of my gigging. 1st Feb 2014 was a blustery day to be flying into Belfast City Airport, with its extremely short runway and steep approach gradient. As a seasoned traveller, I’ve had my fair share of bumpy landings, but this was pretty hairy. After a safe, yet stomach-jerking touch down, I was collected by the promoter to head half an hour to the seaside town of Bangor as I was set to play ‘Status’ later that night. For convenience, at European gigs I usually opt to stay in an airport hotel, but the club owners owned a rather grand hotel on the quay in Bangor. Had it not been blowing an F8 storm, exploring the vicinity of the hotel might have been more of an option. The gig was fantastic as usual, with Status having become one of the strongest places in Northern Ireland to play and a staple of my touring schedule. Following the gig, I attempted to get as much sleep as time permitted, although the hotel windows were taking a battering from mother nature. That, combined with a 7am return flight, supplied my body with a bit of unwanted destruction.
The next outing was on Saturday 15th Feb, on this occasion to Corby in the Midlands. Paul Morrell has been one of the longest standing and most successful promoters in the area over the years, with particular emphasis on Coventry. My friend Jules Marshall kindly agreed to drive me up north for the occasion. It’s always a winner to visit a town where promoters aren’t fighting each other for the scraps with too may events and flyers vying for the available clientele. Corby is fresh territory and Paul has prospered as a consequence. The gig was busy, and the venue was my favourite type –where the crowd is so close to the DJ that you can high five people on the dance floor from the booth. My palms were ringing by the end of the night.
The following week (Sat 22nd) I headed up to Inverness in Scotland for a show promoted by dance music legend Si Paul AKA Lost Witness. Due to a lack of conveniently timed direct flights, I was forced to fly up to Aberdeen then drive the two hours north to Inverness. It was a great opportunity to catch up with Si, who kindly drove down to collect me. He gave me the lowdown on his venture ‘Acapella Heaven’, which provides pre-written topline songs for producers’ existing electronic music instrumentals. Many DJs are great music producers but lack the same degree of ability as songwriters, so it’s a marriage that works. Look up Acapella Heaven when you get a moment.
I played ‘Home’ Nightclub, which was packed and extremely loud. The Scottish love to chant from the dancefloor, which gives rise to nights with a standard-setting atmosphere. The next morning, for the second consecutive week, I had a horrible departure time back to London, 7am to LGW. On arrival, I met up with my family and we headed down to my in-laws who live on the South Coast. Over the years my mother in law has grown used to me turning up, acting like a vegetable and falling asleep on the sofa, and this visit was no exception. Suffice to say I’m not the most exciting company on Sundays.
On Saturday 8th March I played for the mighty Cream at Regal in Southampton. With the combination of the Cream brand and a student city awash with clubbers, I expected it’d be a good one and it certainly proved to be. Before heading onto the decks, the promoter took me into the Green Room (the pre-gig backstage area where artists hang out). It seems to be the norm for promoters to apologise for the state of the green room prior to entry. I pointed out the same thing I always do – it’s the quality of the beverages and not the soft furnishings that counts. Most green rooms are windowless and furnished with very old looking sofas, with walls that have been signed and generally scrawled-upon by every visiting artist. Rock’n’roll baby!
On Thursday 13th March I headed to one of my favorite countries to tour, Australia (my 33rd visit to Oz). I flew with Emirates via Dubai, mostly focusing on my lawyerly commitments en-route, with the required work leaving little time for sleep. Working at 38,000 feet is very productive, with no phone ringing etc, although the first flight (an Airbus A380 from London to Dubai) did have (rather slow) inflight internet connection. After nearly 24 hours travelling I landed into Perth, checked into the hotel and should have collapsed immediately for some sleep like a sane person, but who needs normality? I literally threw my bags down and hit the shops. With two careers to juggle, just about the only time I get to do any clothes shopping is when I’m away on my own on a long-haul trip.
It was two shows on the first night, as part of the “Lost Tour 2014”. The first gig was on a boat along Perth’s Swan River, and boat parties are always different and fun. Unlike a normal gig, where one can turn up 30-60 minutes before a set, on a boat party one is there for the duration. Roughly two hours elapsed between the boat setting off onto the river and my set starting, and by the time I played my first track I reckon I’d spoken to and posed for pictures with the majority of the people on board. No DJs’ backstage green rooms in this environment.
Following the boat gig I headed back to the hotel for an attempted (and failed) hour’s before a further night time club show in Perth. The venue had high ceilings and a great sound system. It’s an interesting and unspoken rule that, regardless of how loud and distorted the DJ’s tunes are sounding, the venue’s sound engineer never touches and turns down the mixer without first informing the DJ. However, the sound engineer in Perth appeared out of nowhere and knocked down the volume very unsubtly without a hint of prior warning. It was frustrating, because it’s better done gradually and gently, to avoid affecting the atmosphere on the dancefloor. Despite a relatively late set it was still a very enjoyable experience, packed with loads of Irish for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s crazy how many Irish folk have upped ships to Australia to escape the economic crisis – I overheard so many Irish accents on my last Aussie visit in February 2013, and this time round it was even more noticeable.
It seems like a recurring theme in this instalment, but the next morning I had an unpleasantly early (7am) domestic flight from Perth to Darwin. It’s only when you take a flight across Australia, that you realise how vast the country is. We flew for 4 hours without passing any discernable signs of life down below. During the final 45 minutes we overflew the most beautiful untouched and unoccupied beaches. Even as we approached the city of Darwin the beaches remained deserted. Australia has some of the world’s deadliest creatures: salt water crocodiles, sharks, lethal jelly fish etc, hence the lack of beach action. I wouldn’t fancy a swim either.
On arrival into Darwin the first thing that hit me was the climate difference. Perth had been dry and Mediterranean-like, whereas Darwin is tropical with stifling humidity. Although I should have gone straight to sleep, with less than 24 hours remaining in Australia I hit some more shops. I barely arrived on time – strangely, all Darwin stores close at 3:30pm on Saturdays. In most major global cities this is the single busiest time for shopping, so why they’d shut so early in Darwin is anyone’s guess.
The last outing on this mini Australian visit was at the Darwin Entertainments Centre, once again as part of the “Lost 2014 Tour”. The gig was a sold out event, with so many in attendance it was impossible to calculate the numbers. I’ve just finished a new track called ‘Naked’, which I tested on the steaming dancefloor. It’s an absolute banger, with a preview coming on my Sound Cloud very shortly. On that note, a HUGE thank you to everybody who bought my latest release ‘Monte Carlo’ on Vandit. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, CLICK HERE!
The next day it was time to head home to London, unfortunately in the shape of 4 flights: Darwin – Alice Springs (where I was attacked by flies leaving the plane) – Perth – Dubai – London. 30 hours of travelling and then straight into lawyer mode in my London office at Sheridans for a full day’s work, directly from the airport.
I’ve now running up to my two year anniversary of dividing time between being a media and entertainment lawyer during the week and a DJ at weekends. My legal client base and workload has built up steadily during this period. It would require too much space in this column to supply a comprehensive summary of my legal work to date, but recent highlights include recording agreements, DJ and band management and agency contracts, brand and trade mark protection, various Ibiza-based projects, TV sponsorship and endorsement deals, TV and film scriptwriter agreements, radio presenter agreements and music publishing deals. I’ve found the perfect balance between both roles, and they cross-pollenate one another excellently.
Before signing off this instalment, more words of thanks are in order – over 650,000 of you around the world have now subscribed to my Global Warm Up podcast, consistently making it one of the top ranked music podcasts in the world on iTunes. Big love to one and all.
More next time…
Firstly, I’d like to briefly touch on the recent passing of Nelson Madela. During my various DJing visits to South Africa I went to Robben Island and visited the tiny cell that held Mandela for so many harsh years, also taking a tour of Soweto, amongst other points of South African historical interest. When someone passes at a ripe old 95 years it’s only really possible to celebrate their life, rather than mourn their passing. And what an important life. RIP Nelson Mandela.
Moving on, or back in time, as it were. This instalment kicks off with the annual Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in late October, the undisputed number one global conference for the electronic music industry. This time round I was predominantly heading there wearing my lawyer hat (not literally), travelling with one of my Sheridans colleagues Neil. It’s all well and good spreading the word that I’m now a DJ who’s also a lawyer (or vice versa), but getting out there and talking the talk with folk from the industry is what really sends out the message. The trip was extremely productive on the client front, and we also went and checked out plenty of ADE club events. These included Paul Oakenfold, Armin van Buuren, Pete Tong and Defected. In previous years I’ve deejayed and/or spoken on panels at ADE. Doing things from a different perspective this time round was a wholly new and rewarding challenge.
On Friday October 18th I headed straight from ADE Amsterdam to San Diego, California via LHR. The relatively new direct BA flight from Heathrow to San Diego saves a lot of travel time. In the past one would have to connect via LA or Chicago, which added many hours. The one thing to bear in mind when travelling through small US ports of entry is the limited immigration processing area, meaning that if you’re last off the plane, you can write off a couple of hours from your life. Luckily I raced through first. Partner in crime Tristan D moved to San Diego just over a year ago, a move that plenty of other British DJs have made during recent months. San Diego is considered by many to be California’s little secret, a dreamy city 100 miles south of Los Angeles. I was picked up from the airport and headed to the hotel for a disco nap ahead of that evenings show at Stingaree, a special event which Tristan and his “ZDM” crew put together. My hotel was literally opposite the open-air venue, which made for fairly difficult pre-gig napping conditions, as I could hear every record Tristan was dropping. Most DJs will agree that there’s nothing better than spinning in the open-air, and even better on the roof terrace of a tall building. The show was packed, with just under 1000 in attendance under the stars, amongst the downtown skyscrapers of San Diego. After a very enjoyable set, I stumbled back to my stone’s throw hotel room at the Solomar. After 15 hours of travelling and 2 hours of DJing, I was out like a power cut.
The next day, we drove up to the rather fancy La Jolla district of San Diego. Tristan’s fiancé Nicole’s parents live up in the hills there, with a fantastic panoramic view of the whole of San Diego, pretty much stretching all the way down to Mexico. We enjoyed a few afternoon drinks in the sun before hitting the road to Los Angeles. Shortly afterwards, we stopped at a cool little Mexican restaurant for some “on the road” munch. With Mexico just over the horizon, as you’d imagine, there’s no shortage of mouth watering Mexican food in SOCAL. On the drive up we listened to plenty of new music, planning out our sets for the mighty Avalon in Hollywood later that evening.
On arrival into LA, we met up for dinner with one of dance music’s most respected individuals, co-club owner/promoter of the mighty Avalon and “Giant” events, Dave Dean. Dave’s legacy stretches back over 25 years, starting his career in London, opening up one of the most legendary clubs in the late 80s called Limelight. I’ve known Dave for many years, he’s one of the nicest guys in the industry and I hold a lot of respect for him. After a huge table-congesting sushi dinner on the corner of Hollywood & Vine (boy do Americans do sushi well), I headed for some much needed rest, with my body clock rooted in a time zone 8 hours ahead. It’s been a while since I last played Avalon, which holds 2500 people in an old 1920s theatre – its mystique and ambience is truly majestic. Playing alongside Leon Bolier and Tristan D, the club was very busy. I’m already excited for my next visit to Hollywood in 2014. Check out the pictures via the Gallery section when you get a moment…
Having gone to bed at 3am shortly after my set, I had the unpleasant task of waking a few hours later at 6am on Sunday 19th Oct. In store was a 9am flight to Chicago so that I could then connect on to London. In case you’re asking “Why didn’t you just fly direct from LAX to London”, I needed to be in the Sheridans offices in London in lawyer capacity at 9am on Monday morning. There are no direct flights from LA to London allowing one to do this – they all arrive too late in the day. Thankfully, everything went like clockwork – Chicago to London allowed for just enough sleep in business class and I felt relatively refreshed upon landing into LHR and onwards to the office. It was a great trip Stateside and I’ll be back over there in Jan 2014.
Friday November 1st was a semi-local outing, heading up the M1 to Milton Keynes, situated around 40 miles from my North London home. Joined on the road by my IT wizard friend Jules Marshall, we discussed the ins and outs of the technical world for the semi-short drive North. The club, “Wonderchild”, was a venue I hadn’t played before, the perfect dancefloor capacity with a wacky dressed-up atmosphere, a Halloween celebration with fancy dress all round. Where did the UK’s no holds barred celebration of Halloween come from all of a sudden? I’m well aware of its enormity in the United States, but in the blink of an eye the UK has caught up. Promoted by Jamesie, a promoter/friend I’ve worked with on many occasions before, it was smiles all round.
The next day (November 2nd) I headed to Scotland to play Coast Club in Arbroath. Flying into Edinburgh, the club was around 80 miles from the airport. I’m 6’2” tall with an occasional bad back from the stooping posture of DJing, and in clubs that have the decks and mixer relatively low I sometimes have to remove my shoes to lower my height. On this occasion it was a big mistake, as there was broken glass all over the floor of the DJ booth. I had to tread gingerly between huge shards of glass throughout my set, worried that my socks would have picked up small bits of glass if I put my shoes back on, making mattes worse. That aside, I had a great gig, and then headed back to my airport hotel, where I was in the airport terminal 5 minutes after rolling out of bed the following morning.
The next gig outing was on Friday November 8th for the Naughty Reunion at Butlins in Skegness. Around this time of year I play a series of reunion events for affiliates that we work with in Ibiza during the summer with Judgement. On this occasion I took the train up to Skeggy, staying in a modern Chalet on-site. It housed 3, but it was just me (sans mates) rattling around in there. I never experienced the joys of Butlins as a child, so I’m making up for it now, although the British coastal weather is unlikely to make the Mediterranean resorts quake in their boots. I performed straight after a live set from JLS, a somewhat incongruous support act, although they would probably say the same about me in return. I was joined on stage during my set by Harrison who recently sang the track with David Guetta and Glow in the dark called “Ain’t A Party” – he performed it live, receiving an awesome reaction. You can check his song out here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv809IhklRA
On Saturday 16th November I headed to Wales, once again on the train. Firstly, I caught a Virgin service to Birmingham, which took just over an hour from London – very fast indeed. Personally I’m skeptical about the need for the HS2. Instead, the British government should be improving our creaking current network and re-opening some of the bulldozed branch lines of the 1960s. At Birmingham I boarded the slowest, smallest train on a 3-hour journey into mid Wales. It was only two carriages in size and rammed to almost Indian train-like proportions with Welsh rugby and football supporters. Arriving in the dark, I checked into my hotel ahead of the gig at “The Venue” in Barmouth, playing my set about half an hour later. The next morning I woke up, drew the curtains and caught my first daylight view of my location. I was on the edge of Snowdonia and it absolutely breathtaking. I felt like a small boy on holiday again.
I’ve been working hard on new music recently, including two forthcoming singles on Vandit, “The March” and “Modulation”. I’ve also got a new record on Junskter coming out this week called “Meteor” under my alias “Megadrone”, this includes an awesome remix from Garry Heaney. I’ve got loads planned on the production front for 2014. But, if you’re looking for a good Christmas present, check out the VONYC Sessions | Best Of 2013 mixed by Paul van Dyk, it features 4 tracks by yours truly. CLICK HERE TO ORDER
Saturday November 23rd contained an extremely local gig in Kingston Upon-Thames. Before hitting the gig, Amanda and I went to a Sheridans colleague’s birthday party near to Shoreditch. It’s been a while since I’ve checked out this cool, charismatic area of London. Although Shoreditch is no mystery to any Londoner, my DJ travels elsewhere mean that I’ve rarely been there on a Saturday night to witness just how rammed and vibrant the place is. The bottom of Kingsland Road has a 200m stretch dedicated to Vietnamese restaurants, and Amanda and I are slowly working our way through all of them. Amanda drove me – what a pleasure to be chauffeured to my gig by the hottest driver in clubland.
Thursday November 28th was the next outing, heading back up to Edinburgh, immediately after finishing my day in the office. The LHR – EDI route in an extremely popular business commuter route, proved on this occasion by BA putting a wide-body B767 on the service. The Sheridans office in central London is particularly well-positioned for rapid access on public transport to all of London’s five airports, so I don’t have a preference, other than choosing Heathrow and BA because of my frequent flyer status. I played Castle Club, which was a predominantly student-based event and very rocking. The loud, excited and enthusiastic Scottish crowd always pumps me with energy and sends me on my merry way post-set with a silly grin plastered on my face. I stayed in the EDI airport hotel, which matches its total lack of glamour with extreme convenience, flying home early the next morning so as to be in the office at 9am.
The next evening I took the train from London Paddington to Hereford for the mighty “Play Nightclub”. The train defied the laws of geography, taking 3.5 hours to cover 150 miles’ distance. It was an old “125 high Speed” diesel train from the 1970s – smokey, cold, rattling around and generally getting from A to B with a sense of grim despair. Precisely my point about where government money should be invested. I had a great gig in Hereford, although somebody managed to drunkenly stumble over, knock my USB stick and rip the casing off the very sturdy Pioneer CDJ2000. Luckily they have a linking system, meaning I could happily switch “master” devices. The night rocked on nicely.
The final gig covered in this bloggy instalment, was up to Birmingham for a Cream Classics event at the HMV Institute. Seb Fontaine preceded me on the decks and the club was rammed. Pete and I arrived slightly early, so as to catch up with plenty of mates who were in attendance. The Saturday DJing night norm is to turn up early, do the social thing pre-set, spin my tunes and shoot off straight afterwards. Stumbling out of the club when it’s light outside looking ugly and tired can only end in tears…
It’s a rarity for me to play a classics event, and my aim was to keep it unexpected and with a modern bootleggy flavour. Even at a night focused on classics, a modern twist helps to sell electronic music to the next generation.
That’s about it for this instalment. I wish you a very enjoyable Holiday Season, wherever you are in the world. Remember, music has no boundaries… Feel free to get in touch on any subject that takes your fancy via email@example.com . I reply to each and every one received.
More next time! Jx
Firstly, I hope you’re having a wonderful summer. For those of you who don’t already know, let me furnish you with the news that I’ll be returning to my long time stomping ground of the BBC Radio 1 studios for one night only, taking the helm of the mighty Essential Mix. Be sure to tune in on Friday 7th September, for a musical journey through my current sound intertwined with a few delicate musical memories. Let me know what you think…
We commence this instalment at the beginning of the Ibiza season, which for my Judgement night was slightly later than we usually open. As I explained last time round, Eden recently changed hands; meaning that major (and amazing) renovations took place just before summer 2013. The building works ran right up to the end of June. The reinvented Eden, and its mighty new Void sound system, has set an awesome standard for San Antonio. I’m pleased to say that Judgement Fridays has continued the hugely successful track record of its predecessor Judgement Sundays. We opened on Friday July 5th, and I was joined by Orjan Nilsen, Danny Howard, and Solis & Sean Truby. As part of the 2013 remodeling of Eden, they created a “Boom Box” style DJ booth, literally wrapping the DJ in LED. The atmosphere was fantastic, and I thank every one of you who came along and made it so special… I’ll talk more about Judgement later, but I’d like to backtrack slightly, if that’s okay with you. Who needs chronological order anyway?
Equally as monumental to me, and the longest standing residency of my career is the gargantuan BCM in Mallorca. It’s a club that’s stood the test of time, and always been a step ahead of the game. I put a lot of this down to the clubs solid and innovative management. We’ve returned with “Judgement Night” to BCM, taking its back-to-back DJ concept to another level, bringing in some of my DJ friends including John O’Callaghan, Ferry Corsten, Aly & Fila, Eddie Haliwell and many more. The atmosphere so far this season has been epic, and I’ll come back to BCM shortly…
In previous summers, my time on home turf has been somewhat limited. This year however, with my new job as an Entertainment Lawyer at Sheridans in London, I’ve been splitting my time between the Balearics and London. At the moment I work three days per week in the London office, which has struck a good balance between clubland, and protecting the legal interests of others. I write this instalment of my blog from Mallorca, where I’m enjoying a family holiday, whilst jetting off for a couple of shows during my time here. Palma Mallorca’s main airport (PMI) is served slightly more generously with routes than IBZ, making connecting onto other destinations worldwide a no brainer.
Back on home turf, on Saturday 13th July I played at Club Amadeus in the UK’s North East. However enjoyable it is to be able to spin in many different locations around the globe, I always appreciate a night out on UK terra firma. Pete and I set off from London around 9pm, with a four-hour drive ahead of us. It’s been one of the nicest, warmest summers the UK has seen for years, and people were certainly dressed accordingly. When it comes to throwing on summer clothes, I find the contrast between the English and the Spanish hilarious. Until the temperature tips over 25 degrees the Spanish still sport sweaters and overcoats. In the UK, it can as low as 15 degrees when bikinis, shorts and sunbathing top the agenda. The club was packed, hot, and scantily clad. After a raucous crowd reaction and a few drinks with the promoter, we hit the road back to London
Conveniently, Easyjet from London Gatwick has a 7:50pm daily flight to Mallorca, which works perfectly with a dash from Sheridans’ offices around 6. The Gatwick Express takes around 30 minutes from London Victoria station, meaning that by the time I’ve caught up on some emails, I’ve arrived at the airport. With a tight window between landing and getting behind the decks, any revitalising disco naps have to be taken at 38,000ft. Tuesday 23rd was another fantastic instalment, as I was joined by John O’Callaghan on the decks. Although BCM isn’t always the most trance orientated crowd, the #trancefamily that night were in the place in full force. When in Mallorca, I stay in a hotel in the capital Palma with a taxi rank right outside, and the following morning I flew back to London at 11am. Back at home, I recorded the Global Warm Up podcast and radio show, and grabbed an early night. On Thursday I was freshly back in the Sheridans office at 8am.
On Friday 19th July I was joined by MaRlO, Danny Howard & Micky Slim at Judgement Fridays in Ibiza. The one thing we’ve had to manage without this year is a backroom, as the renovation window didn’t permit it to be ready for the 2013 season. With only one arena to programme, it’s been important to incorporate the key Judgement “Funky Room” residents, such as Micky, into the main room structure. The club was packed, with that awesome Judgement atmosphere. It’s been a far more immersive experience for everybody, enhancing our visual presence with Eden’s vastly improved screens and lighting. If you’ve not stepped inside yet this summer then I hope you can make a visit before the closing on Sept 20th.
On Saturday 20th I flew from Ibiza to Amsterdam. Ibiza is blessed with a couple of direct daily flights to AMS, allowing me to grab lunch with a few friends on the island before being dropped at IBZ airport. On the agenda was Electronic Family festival, near to Amsterdam Schipol Airport, which included a huge Trance line up. Marlo was also on the bill, however he was on slightly earlier in the evening and had taken a crack-of-dawn flight from Ibiza. Festival production in Holland is always a cut above the rest. Alongside the UK, this is the country where large-scale dance/EDM shows began. The likes of Trance Energy have always set an international standard and Electric Family was truly immense.
Tuesday 23rd July was another day in the Sheridans office, with the usual 7:50pm departure from London Gatwick on Easy Jet at the end of my working day. The myriad of daily flight options from London to either Ibiza or Mallorca are a bit like jumping on the local bus. There’s always somebody who I know to sit and natter with, and before you know it you’ve arrived. However, with full legal days that kick off at 8am or earlier, my 2 hours of shuteye on the plane have become more and more essential. If you see me on an Easy Jet flight snoring, feel free to come and give me a nudge (or maybe don’t, for that matter…) To state the obvious: BCM was as packed as always. I reckon that if you were to conduct a survey of 20-50 year olds in the UK, over 50% of the British population have visited BCM at least once in their life. This makes it a genuine ‘institution’ and the most successful nightclub for the British market of all time.
On Thursday 25th July I flew directly from Ibiza to Blackpool airport, possibly the only one of the UK’s countless airports that I’ve never touched down at before. I was collected by DJ, promoter and local legend Fubar, to play two of his events in the town, before flying straight back to Ibiza. It’s rare for me to play a double header in the same town, explained by the fact that the second was an after party for the first. The first gig was “Twisted Disco” at Revolution nightclub, partly as a celebration of local face Alex Huckerby’s birthday. The crowd was extremely up for it, and Alex and his mates seemed to revel in throwing as much drink down me as they could.
The flight back to Ibiza, at 7am from Manchester, was rowdy, to put it mildly. Flights from the UK to Ibiza seem to have become more and more out of control in recent years. The low cost airlines are more interested in profiting from booze sales than making the sensible decision to stop serving people when they’re screaming, blocking the aisles, and making other passengers’ journeys a nightmare. The only solution is to bury myself in my headphones and try to escape from the mayhem. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for everything, but on virtually all of my Ibiza flights this year, at least one person has been so drunk that they stand up and clap the minute the plane touches down, whilst the g-force of the brakes is still kicking in.
My flight from Manchester had two hen parties, who must have made up more than a third of the passengers. Despite returning to Ibiza with no shut-eye, sleep was out of the question as it was so noisy. The flight sounded like St Trinians gone mad from start to finish, and, despite being a 7am take-off, the bar sold out of alcohol. The best thing I could do was make some music on my laptop.
On the subject of new productions, my latest release on Vandit “Collide”, is available via THIS LINK. It features the chilling vocals of Christina Novelli, and a remix from UK based Solis & Sean Truby. Additionally, my label “Junkster” just released a banging new track from rising Canadian star Ashe. “Forge” is massively gritty, intense and has a great remix included on the package from Andy Tau.
On Friday 26th July we featured Justin Prime at Judgement for his first Ibiza show at JF. He’s a young producer who’s really going places, and I’ve supported plenty of his material on The Global Warm Up. Marco V & Paul Webster held things up on the Trance front too. Ibiza is a great place to share ideas and stories with fellow DJs, with one or two drinks to kick off the convo, and I chewed the fat after my set with the others on the bill.
With another BCM & Judgement Fridays Ibiza in-between, on 3rd August I headed over to the coastal town of Bangor, Northern Ireland. I love performing in Northern Ireland- there’s always been an awesome club scene and standard-setting atmosphere. I played Status, I venue I visited back in the day under its previous name, the Boom Boom Rooms. It’s one of those clubs where you can see absolutely everybody in the venue from the vantage point of the booth. As a DJ, this kind of club design allows one to suck up the atmosphere better than more partially-sighted spaces. I had a marvellous time.
On Friday August 9th in Ibiza I was joined at Judgement by Showtek, alongside Ruben De Ronde, DJ Ideal& DJ Ange. The club was packed to capacity, which was hardly surprising considering how far Showtek have come in the past year. I hear other DJs playing Showtek productions virtually every time I walk into a gig. In advance of the night at Eden, DJ Ideal accompanied me on the pre-party trek, along with a film crew, to grab some footage of a night in Ibiza in its entirety. It was one of my favorite JF nights this summer, and I stayed at Eden until the cleaning crew hit the floor.
The next day, I flew back to the UK for Berties in Newquay. Pete collected me from the airport, and after heading home for an hour, we hit the long and winding road to Cornwall. I’m very familiar with the drive, as I spent virtually all my childhood holidays down in the South West and have a lot of family in Cornwall. Newquay is the most popular youth resort in the southern half of Britian, so it was no surprise that the club was packed, and it was great to see so many friends in attendance. After a mental weekend, I slept the entire journey back to London.
Before I leave you today, please could I ask you a quick favor? It’s that horrendous time of year again, love it or hate it, DJ Mag’s Top 100 is back. I wont go into too much a tangent about it, but if you get a moment, please could you cast a vote via djmag.com/top100.
Don’t forget to tune into BBC Radio 1 on September 7th for my Essential Mix, if you’re outside the UK, check it out at www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/essentialmix
Until next time, see ya…
Let’s kick this instalment off with some significant, but exciting news. As many of you have noticed and asked me about, there’s been something of a delay in announcing this year’s Judgement Ibiza line up. This is all for good reason. After 13 years of hosting Sundays at Eden, we’re moving our operations to Fridays. Henceforth known as Judgement Fridays
This is for multiple reasons, the most significant being that the San Antonio super club has been sold within the past few months to new owners, and every night at Eden is being freshened up. They’re spending major money on a top-to-bottom refurbishment of the club – this summer it’ll be like going into an unrecognisable venue. I’m pleased to announce the launch night of Judgement Fridays on 28th June, featuring yours truly, along side Kissy Sellout, Ashley Wallbridge & Paul Webster. For full season-long line up information, please head to judgementfridays.co.uk . You’ll notice lots of new DJ faces appearing on the line-ups. I’ve tried to incorporate many new names whose music productions have formed a significant part of my DJ sets over the past twelve months.
On Friday 29th of March I hit one of my most regular long-haul haunts, Dubai. On this occasion it was for the annual EDMX at the Atlantis Beach resort. The event was open air, located directly behind the iconic Atlantis Hotel. Folk living in a permanently warm climate often take the conditions for granted, but I never fail to appreciate an open air festival, and I was lucky enough to do quite a few in the period covered by this instalment. Joining me on the line up were ATB, Example and plenty of other heavyweight artists. The vista of sand and shoreline from behind the decks was picture perfect, and with plenty of UAE friends in attendance I couldn’t fail to enjoy. The next day I headed over to a neighbourhood full of bespoke tailors to get some new stuff made. Although not as inexpensive as the Far East, Dubai is a much cheaper tailoring option than the UK. Following a morning of shopping and eating, I headed over to Dubai Airport to fly British Airways back to London and then onwards to Ireland. On the subject of British Airways, if you’re travelling long haul on BA in the near future, check my Global Warm Up, now featuring on BA’s inflight entertainment channels.
The next outing was the first of a few trips over to Ireland within the last few months, as I played “Queens” in County Clare on March 30th. Flying directly from Dubai, via London, I was absolutely exhausted and running on empty. The Irish always possess so much energy, and it’s amazing how a raucous crowd can pick one up from even the most shattered moments. Being the bank holiday weekend in the UK, the next day I was set to play Blackpool, with this in mind, I headed to bed at an airport hotel pretty much immediately after leaving the decks in County Clare.
Onwards to Blackpool, and Easter Sunday 31st was bitterly cold, as the UK suffered one of the coldest springs in living memory (50 years, to be precise). The conditions didn’t make for the perfect evening to stage a fully outdoor Judgement event on the Pier in Blackpool. The promoters booked the night on the basis that a year earlier their Easter event on roughly the same weekend had been so balmy that the crowd turned up in shorts and flip flops. Fast forward a year later, and the temperature for this outdoor party was zero degrees.
Although I feared that numbers would suffer big-time, the night was actually busy, going to prove how thick skinned Northern Brits are. The atmosphere in Blackpool gets a comfortable ten out of ten, but, as a Southern softie, I must confess to having deejayed in a thick overcoat.
Since commencing my role with London based media law firm Sheridans in October, I’ve successfully balanced gigs and day job, enjoying both in equal measure. Occasionally it can be exhausting, but I’ve managed to lose 2 stone of weight, which has not only increased my energy levels, but probably aided my mental focus too. On Thursday 4th April, I left work and set off for London Gatwick heading for Barcelona, en route to Salou on the Costa Blanca. I was booked to play the legendary Pacha for a vast crowd of UK students who’d travelled down from the UK by coach. Although I can see the “fun” element of the journey, I personally struggle to spend more than 2 hours on a bus, let alone 18 hours or more, not to mention the ferry crossing. The gig was absolutely packed, with over 5000 students inside and coaches parked outside as far as the eye could see. When you get a moment, check out the pictures via the gallery section of the site.
On Friday 5th April I headed up to the “Lowlands” of Scotland to play Falkirk, somewhere I’ve visited on a few occasions. The beauty of flying domestically is the reduced time one needs to be at the airport before boarding the plane. Who needs too much wasted down-time in departure lounges? The gig was noisy as always, and I enjoyed my interaction with a bunch of louder-than-life clubbers.
The next day I headed over to Bergen in Norway, which involved flying back down to LHR and connecting out to Scandinavia. During my career I’ve visited more beautiful cities around the world than I can count, but there’s not always the time to soak up enough of the local sights and sounds. On this occasion, the promoter took me on a whistle-stop tour of Bergen and it was a fantastically beautiful city, just basking in its first days of snow-free springtime after the long Scandinavian winter. Red Bull sponsored the event, and on arrival back to my hotel room I found a case Red Bull outside my door. Although this would be a dream for some, I’m not a massive energy drink consumer, in fact almost never. They make me feel too edgy. Thanks for the hospitality I received in Bergen – I managed to snap a few pictures that you can check out via the Gallery section of the site.
Saturday 13th April was the next outing, and on this occasion it was a “Revolution” double header. First, my road manager Pete and I headed up to Loughborough, which takes about 2 hours from London. Later, we headed down to Milton Keynes to play an event for the same promoter. Both gigs were suitably noisy, and Pistol Pete got me to both gigs in plenty of time with his mastery of burning off tyre rubber. It was rewarding to see so many mates in attendance at both shows, and I appreciated playing in relatively close proximity to home for the first time in a while.
The next outing was on Saturday 20th April, as Pete and I headed over to Swansea for Judgement Night at Oxygen, local hero Big Al’s new venture. In many UK cities the existence of the entire local dance scene can be credited to a handful of visionary individuals who laid the local clubbing foundations. Big Al is one such guy, and it was gratifying to see his new venture working so well after moving over from the Escape, where he’d been for such a long spell.
On Friday April 26th I headed east, flying with Qatar airways to Bahrain. Although there had been hints of revolutionary trouble reported on the UK news about Bahrain, I saw no evidence. It seemed like very much the same prosperous and vibrant city-state as on my previous two visits.
It was open-air time again, as I played the Amwaj Marina for a large-scale beach event. My management had mentioned to the promoter that I’m a Grey Goose vodka fan and they took the suggestion seriously, enlisting Grey Goose to sponsor the entire VIP area. If there’s one product I don’t mind endorsing, it’s Grey Goose. The gig was packed and memorable (despite the vodka trying to interfere with said memory), and I hope to be invited back sooner rather than later.
The next day I was performing in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia at Music Conference Asia. With the flight from Bahrain to KL taking 7 hours, there was no room for delay, especially taking into account the west to east time difference. I went pretty much straight from the decks in Bahrain to the airport to make the itinerary work. Thankfully there were no delays, and I landed in good time. After checking into my hotel, I headed straight down to a conference suite at the event to give a speech and take a Q&A on all things dancemusic-related from the audience.
The gig that night was huge – check out the pictures via the Gallery section of the site to get a sense of the scale of things. The DJ following me (who’s well known and I won’t name-check) was playing from laptop, which, sadly for him, broke. This meant that I got a double length set, something I was more than happy to accept, considering I was playing in from of 10,000 people outdoors. DJs’ technical choices have branched into two different schools of thought – turntables (which I use) and laptops. This wasn’t a good advert for the laptop fraternity.
The next day I flew home to London via Doha, Qatar, with a fairly lengthy connection of around 6 hours. There’s always plenty of work to be done on planes and in airport lounges, so I’m never short of stuff to occupy me, but I’d prefer not to be separated from my nearest and dearest for any longer than totally necessary.
Friday 3rd May saw a trip down to Bournemouth to play one of my favorite venues in the UK, the O2 Academy, formerly The Opera House. Slinky at The Opera House used to be one of the biggest weekly Trance events in the UK, but in recent years has only hosted special events. I have a whole (metaphorical) album’s worth of memories from the place, back when it used to be weekly. This time round I played alongside Gareth Emery, who harks originally from nearby on Britain’s South Coast, and the club was rammed. I hope Slinky continue these events as it’s important to keep the culture alive in Bournemouth.
The next night was the Judgement Street Party event in Maidstone, Kent. I was slightly worried about how much of a success a street party would be with the unpredictable UK weather, but I should have paid more attention to the venue spec, as (despite its name) it was covered-over and not exposed to the elements. Both the weather and clubbers were on top form. I played two sets, one in the House orientated room and one in the more banging arena, joined on the decks by Orjan Nilsen, Simon Patterson, Claudia Cazacu and many more. Whenever the “Judgement” banner is attached to a UK event I care even more than normal about its success, as my name is on the line. The Maidstone event was an absolutely storming finale to the bank holiday weekend and a standard bearer for the Judgement brand before the summer.
Wednesday 15th May was a one-off occasion where I squeezed in a gig overnight in between working days at the Sheridans office in London. It took place in Waterford, Ireland, and (pardon the cliché) the craic was there in abundance. Although its economy has not enjoyed the best of times of late, the Irish transport infrastructure has improved out of all recognition. Whereas, five or ten years ago a cross-country journey of any length was impossible because of the poor Irish roads, Ireland is now crisscrossed with a spanking new motorway network. This means that recent visits have allowed me to fly into Dublin and be driven to destinations elsewhere in the country, which is the preferable option as there is such a huge choice of flights into the Irish capital, compared to regional ones. Following the gig, I stayed in a Dublin Airport hotel and made it back into the Sheridans offices for 9.30am, feeling pumped up and ready for the day ahead.
On Thursday 16th May my new Pioneer CDJ2000 Nexus set up arrived. It’s been a while since I played around with DJ equipment at home, but this kit is truly amazing, especially when connected to the new DJM900 Nexus mixer. If you’d told me 15 years ago that this is how far DJ technology would advance, I’d have called you crazy. Over the course of the same week I went to Pioneer’s dedicated DJ studio in Shoreditch for some tuition in the advanced use of Pioneer equipment. Although I’ve spent the past ten years using their stuff as my core DJ technology, I learned a huge bunch of new tricks. It was an important reminder that one should always continue to brush up one’s technical skills and never stand still. Check out my technical set-up via http://www.pioneer.eu/uk/newsroom/news/CDJ-2000nexus/page.html
On Saturday 18th May I headed to the Seoul “World DJ’ festival in South Korea. With recent warlike rhetoric having being dished out by the North Koreans, my flight to Korea was pretty empty, with some passengers presumably having been deterred by what they’d seen on the news. I was able to spread out and create a little office area for myself in the largely vacant business class cabin on BA.
On arrival, I told the promoter how much I enjoyed Korean food and later that day they spoiled me with some of the best cuisine that Seoul had to offer. The gig was a large-scale sold out arena festival with multiple stages. My set was on the main stage, which was open air. Annoyingly, the Heavens opened torrentially during my set. In fact, it rained so heavily that the decks needed to be moved deeper under the covered-over stage midway during my performance. My weather experience aside, I’d highly recommend visiting the country if you get the chance. If you’re in London at any point, check out some of the numerous Korean BBQ restaurants, they’re truly fantastic.
The next journey was to Dublin on Friday 24th May. I played for fellow DJ/Friend Paul Webster, who has a monthly event at “Home” nightclub in his home town of Balbriggan, just outside the Irish capital. Before the gig Paul took me out to dinner at a local Thai. Although a pre gig disco nap might have been the more sensible option, the foodie in me always takes the upper hand. The event was packed and bouncing. I look forward to seeing Paul at the Judgement Fridays launch party on June 28th!
The following night I was in Northern Ireland at the legendary Coach. Geographical sanity would have suggested staying over in Dublin all-day and travelling by car the 90 or so miles north to Banbridge that night. However family will always take precedence, so I flew back home in between.
Spending about six hours at home in London, I left LHR again at 7:30pm en route over the Irish Sea back to the Coach. The BA business lounge in Heathrow Terminal 1 was chocka with artists, managers, pluggers and press travelling to Radio 1’s Big Weekend, taking place on the other coast of Northern Ireland in Derry. On an adjacent table was The Script, whose singer (as a judge one TV’s ‘The Voice’) was getting lots of attention.
The Coach is always a guaranteed smasher when I see it in the diary, so I knew I was in for a treat. I really appreciate how well looked after I am every time I go there.
Sunday 26th May was another Bank Holiday here in the UK, meaning it was time to hit the road. We headed up to Beaconsfield, just of the M40 near London for Revolution, a night I’d played the previous month in two other locations. The gig was close to London, so plenty of mates tagged along.
The final outing covered by this report was our official Judgement Fridays UK pre party at Ministry of Sound, London on Friday 31st May. Orjan Nilsen, Sean Tyas, Shogun and Tristan D joined me on the decks, and the atmosphere was truly immense as always. Being in my home town, demand for guest list places amongst my mates always outstrips supply, and they all want to come and stand behind me in the DJ booth. On the one hand I like this sense of camaraderie. On the other, I’m mindful that such chaos probably looks a bit unprofessional from the dancefloor.
I finished on the decks at 3:30am, and managed to record my set, which is now live as the “June Mix” via the Mix Sets section of the site. It was great to see so many friendly faces, and I hope to see you all in Ibiza!
Finally, if you want to get in touch with me about anything musically related, or just for a general hello my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . I personally reply to every email received…
Have a great week, more next time….
It’s the summer season, and I figured that individually listing and commenting, in a generic way, on each and every one of the countless summer gigs that I play probably wouldn’t make for the most gripping read. Especially when part of my summer itinerary consists of the same two gigs 15 weeks in a row. I can happily sit here and reminisce about every molecular detail of each event, but I’m sure the majority of you have equally busy lives. So here’s a summary of what’s been going on in my world.
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