Firstly, an apology. This diary report should be delivered on a much more regular basis than it has been over the last six weeks. We had some major web server nightmares, leading to a partial meltdown of my whole site. These have now been rectified and normal service is resumed. Phew…
I start this instalment at the legendary Ministry Of Sound in London on Friday 3rd June for our penultimate UK Judgement Sundays pre Ibiza event. In the month running up to the Ibiza season we try to take Judgement to each corner of the country to supply a taster of what’s ahead.
The night started with my live Radio 1 show at 11pm. A great advantage of playing the Ministry is the short distance between Radio 1 and the club, taking just over 15 minutes in the car. Pretty much exclusively at Judgement Sundays Ibiza, in the summer I play an additional funky set in the second room of Eden. As a Trance DJ I find it fun and a bit of a challenge to step outside of my musical box. The Ministry (being a huge multi room club) enabled me to do the same… It was the first back room set I’d played a quite a while, so all week I hunted down tunes in this musical area.. The night came together beautifully, the only complication being the unfamiliar Allan & Heath mixer in the House room. Immediately afterwards I headed into the main room, jumping on the decks after German duo Cosmic Gate to play my regular music style. It would be the first of 3 gigs I’d be doing with the boys that weekend. The atmosphere in the main room at the Ministry is always rocking and you can check out the pictures in the gallery section of the site.
The following afternoon I headed up to Glasgow for the mighty Coloursfest. Originally I was supposed to be playing two sets, but due to a lack of direct flights to Ibiza and the need to depart very early the following morning, I was only able to spin on the outdoor stage in-between Cosmic Gate and Richard Durand. The backdrop to the outdoor stage is impressive. The event is held on the banks of the Clyde, and with various vast Royal Navy ships moored alongside I wondered whether any navy sailors had sneaked over the fence and onto the dancefloor. The Glaswegian crowd is famously loud, and lived up to their reputation. As a bonus, the Scottish weather didn’t let everyone down (which it’s more than capable of doing.)
In the past there’s always been a good early Sunday direct flight option to Ibiza from Glasgow but this year I was forced to go via Mallorca. Feeling sleep-deprived and in need of my bed, I had the potent motivating factor of the Judgement Sundays opening party (Sunday 5th June) to keep me energised. After 9 months’ hibernation, in the back of your mind there is always an element of panic that nobody is going to show up, but as per usual Eden was packed from the word go. The line up included Cosmic Gate, Tristan D and me in the main room with Micky Slim bigging things up in room 2. The atmosphere was well and truly up to its usual JS standard and we were off to a very solid start to the season. Judgement’s USP is its incredible atmosphere, and 2011 began true to form. Check out the videos via the “Judgement Sundays” tab to the left of this text.
The 10th June was one of those hectic Fridays that included my live Radio 1 show plus a 100 mile drive to a gig. My driver Pistol Pete was ready and waiting to whisk me up to Sekushi night club in Cheltenham as soon as I exited Radio 1’s doors. I’ve played the venue on a few occasions before when it was called Dakota. The downside about squeezing in a Friday night gig after the show is having to play a late set when some folk have already left. The biggest amusement happened at the end of the night, as I was asking people whether they wanted ‘one more tune’ on the mic. My voice sounded very distorted and riddled with feedback, forcing me to abandon the mic and shout at the dancefloor at the top of my voice like a school headmaster. The following morning my tonsils throbbed and warbled.
The next day, Pete and I headed over to Swansea for Escape Into The Park. In recent years they have oscillated between having a Trance arena and going for other options. This time round they went for the indoor tented approach, which really worked for me. My set was just at the point of the sun going down, meaning that the arena got really busy as the night fell and people came in from the outdoor stages. Festivals are so weather dependent and (at the risk of tempting providence) the weather always works out fine for EITP. It finished at 11pm with my closing set, the early curfew having two advantages- people didn’t get too mashed and I was able to get a relatively early flight to Ibiza, allowing me to sleep-off any tiredness once I was there.
After finishing, we headed straight down the motorway to London Gatwick for my 5:40am flight to Ibiza. Thanks to Pete’s smooth driving I managed to sleep the whole way.
The Judgement madness continued heading into week 2 of the Ibiza season. For me, an Ibiza Sunday evening starts pretty early, with ‘pre parties’ scattered all over the San Antonio area. My Ibiza driver Kev collected me around 8:45pm with the first short set taking place at Savanah, next door to Café Del Mar on the sunset strip. Savanah is new for me this year, and has got off to a flying start. I play a slightly more laid back set but it’s something I enjoy, DJing variety being the spice of life. That night we had the Tidy Boys making an appearance at Judgement for the first time. It was a one-off step in a slightly different musical direction- the boys were on the island with a large group of Tidy followers on an Atomic weekender vacation.
The next outing was on Saturday 18th June, to Fever in Northampton. It’s a club I’ve done on many occasions for a promoter I’ve been working with a long time. For a while, club owner Simon had been suggesting that I come up and play a Saturday gig (as opposed to Fridays.) I’m glad I did. Fever was packed, with a really nice dark underground vibe to it. It’s nice to see promoters like Simon taking charge of their own venues. For a while I contemplated buying a club, but all the travelling would have meant that I was away from it too much.
The next morning (Sun 19th) it was back to Ibiza. It’s difficult to sum up each week of a 16 week summer season differently in this report, especially when the weeks fly by like they do. This year we’ve introduced a new music policy in our third room at Judgement Sundays. It was important to make all three rooms completely different in genre, and the new focus in Room 3 is dubstep and D&B. With a bit of time to spare after my sets, I popped my head in and did some toe tapping. After another rammed week, I sat up at home in Ibiza until 10am blasting out the tunes with a few mates. Needless to say, the neighbours weren’t impressed, and I received a very angry chastising phone call that evening. I hadn’t stayed up so late in God knows how long, but you’ve gotta let your hair down every now and again…
The next day (June 20th) I headed over to Mallorca for the first of our weekly Judgement Mondays parties. BCM is one of Europe’s biggest clubs and boasts an equally vast DJ booth. This makes it ideal for doing back-to-back DJ sets. I was inspired to experiment with this a couple of years ago when I tried a back-to-back session with Krafty Kuts, who is one of the most technically skilled DJ’s I know. So this season, using two mixers and eight decks, I’m doing a back-to-back set with a different guest each week at BCM. On this occasion Micky Slim was on the other pair of turntables, and we played one track each before handing over to the other. The energy of two DJs works the crowd beautifully.
I headed straight from BCM to Palma airport with just over an hour to spare before embarking on a draining 3-flight journey to Greece: Palma-Barcelona-Athens-Zante. As you can imagine, on arrival I was pretty exhausted. Under normal circumstances I would have headed straight to bed for a pre-club nap, but Amanda had flown from the UK to meet me in Zante as it was her Birthday. We headed to an awesome Greek restaurant, where we let our local host Jake choose the dishes. I love Greek food in the UK, but the British-produced ingredients don’t compare favourably to those in the Mediterrenean. In Greece I’ve had some of the best meals of my life and it was a fitting birthday celebration for Amanda.
After dinner, we headed straight to the club. As a DJ, Greece is very important to me – it’s essential to keep reinventing your self to a younger audience who are the new generation of clubbers. The Greek islands have the youngest British market of all the Mediterranean holiday destinations, and Zante is having a hugely successful season.
Saturday 25th June contained a last minute booking. I was originally due to be playing EDC in the USA but the only day I could perform was Friday (due to needing to be in Ibiza for the Sunday), and Friday wasn’t available. The replacement gig was in Donegal in the Irish Republic. It’s about 100 miles from Belfast, and the local accent is deceiving, sounding Northern Irish. I flew into Belfast and the driver took us to an Irish pub midway through the journey. I’m partly Irish but completely UK-raised, so a taste of Irish culture is always appreciated. On arrival, the club was busy and I played right up until the police outside said a very definitive ‘Stop!’.
Afterwards, we headed straight back to Belfast Airport. Frustratingly, there was no direct flight to Ibiza so I flew from Belfast to Barcelona with Aer Lingus, with a 2 hour connection time before departing for Ibiza. A bit of a killer when you’ve had zero sleep.
On Sunday June 26th it was back to the Ibiza madness. Not that I experienced any beaches or sun, spending most of the day in bed ahead of Judgement Sundays that night. This year we’ve recruited a new weekly photographer at Judgement who’s doing an awesome job capturing the mood and the vast crowd numbers. When you get a second, check out the pictures via the gallery section of the site. The end of June is when Ibiza numbers start to hit their peak, and guest DJs included Marco V, Claudia Cazacu, Krafty Kuts, with a PA from Angelic, all performing to a packed Eden.
The following evening we caught the small 50-seater regional flight over to Mallorca for Judgement Mondays at BCM. On this occasion my back-to-back partner was the scratch master Krafty Kuts. It’s a shame that there aren’t many UK venues with a large enough DJ booth to accommodate the very visual back-to-back sets that we do in BCM. It’s hard to put a foot wrong.
After a couple of days’ rest in the UK it was travelling time again, on this occasion to Tenerife. The Canary Islands’ summer ‘youth’ peak is shorter then other European holiday destinations, so this year I’m cramming in a couple of trips early in the summer spell. The club is owned by two Lebanese brothers who are good friends – they speak fluent Spanish, English, French and Arabic. I was proud to slowly learn Spanish to a high standard, but their linguistic skills put me to shame. Tramps is always a guaranteed outing for a great night and a bouncing low-ceilinged atmosphere. If you’re a regular listener to my BBC Radio 1 show you will be familiar with the voice of Tenerife-based Ronnie Canada who does many of my jingles. He sings/MCs over the top of my Tramps sets. It’s an experience that has to be witnessed in person. His outfits are worth the ticket price alone.
Saturday 2nd July was my first trip to Russia in a few months. I was booked to play the Ultra music festival is Moscow. I flew direct from Heathrow with Aeroflot, who (luckily) have a flat bed service in business class- unusual for an intra-European flight. Needing to grab sleep wherever possible, I slept pretty much the entire journey. Upon arrival, I jumped in the car to be told that the venue had changed due to police festival licence revocation. As an alternative, the different genre arenas of the event would be held in separate super clubs around the city. They combined Psy Trance and Trance in one location, the only downside being that it resulted in a 20 minute reduction in my set time. Although a club can never truly replace an outdoor festival, the venue they relocated us to was impressive all the same. Three hours after finishing, I flew 5 hours to Madrid and then onwards to Ibiza. A shattering itinerary but worth every second.
Sun 3rd July was all about Judgement Sundays, and once again Eden was rammed. We had a very solid lineup – in the main room I ws joined by Russian rising star Arty. He has received massive support from my DJ peers and it was a proud moment to watch Arty smash Ibiza for his first time at JS. With me having just arrived from his native Russia earlier that day, clearly we had plenty to talk about afterwards. Micky Slim was throwing it down in the back room letting the bass go so low it hit the bottom of your stomach and stayed there.
We choose the Monday night BCM back-to-back co-DJs carefully, with stage presence and technical ability of paramount importance. On this occasion (Mon 4th) I was joined by fellow Radio 1 DJ Kutski. Although his musical style is much faster than mine, we adjusted our respective BPMs and met somewhere in the middle. Later on, my cohort Tristan D also smashed it on the decks.
Following BCM, I had an identical grueling itinerary to two weeks previous, heading towards Zante on three flights, starting with an 8am departure to Barcelona from Palma. Having rested before BCM, there was almost no time for sleep afterwards, so I decided to stay at the club chatting to club manager Gordon until everyone had left. At 7am, I caught I cab to Palma airport and boarded the aircraft to Barcelona with my fellow passengers, only to be told (after an hour) that we needed to get off the plane due to a technical problem. The lack of information that followed was infuriating, but the plane was clearly going nowhere. In the end I had to book new flights via Milan to Athens, get driven 200 miles in a taxi across Greece, plus travel by speed boat (at night) across the Mediterranean sea. This may all sound very “007” but I assure you travelling across the ocean on a speed boat in total darkness is pretty scary. On arrival there was no time for sleep- it was straight to the gig. Greece is always a cert when it comes to a good night, and having travelled for nearly 20 hours, the insane itinerary seemed worth it.
The following evening I played Corfu, and to get there we jumped on the smallest commuter plane I’ve ever travelled by. It roams between the Greek islands like a bus and literally lands at each island with an airport, one after the other. We arrived into Corfu with plenty of time to spare and headed straight out for some more amazing Greek food. Amanda joined me on the trip, but unfortunately injured her self quite badly en route back to the hotel from the restaurant, falling into an damaged storm drain. Luckily she didn’t break any bones but was unable to come to the gig at Futures in the resort of Kavos. A big shame, as it was rammed and awesome.
On Friday the 8th July, following my live Radio 1 show Pete and I headed up to Walsall in the West Midlands. Birmingham and the surrounding area are just within the reach radar for Friday night gigs after finishing Radio 1 at 1am. We made it up in good time, and the night “Simma” was rammed. Promoter/producer/DJ Will Bailey was behind the event and booked me to play a funky set. This is something I rarely do outside Ibiza, but with it being the middle of summer and having the funky tunes at hand, I though why not? A couple of people were slightly bemused that I wasn’t playing my usual banging stuff but they soon got into the swing of things. I certainly hope to make a return visit in the near future…
The final 2 gigs covered in this instalment are The Syndicate in Blackpool and the Essex Polo Club event in Epping. We started the night with the local gig. Essex is pretty close to London, and within 45 mins of leaving home we were in my tent. The night was a large capacity event with multiple arenas and very celebrity driven. The gig was a highly dressy affair, and the only down side was one of the co-promoters getting in my face every 10 minutes trying to tell me what to play. This is something I never experience, and I ended up having very harsh words with him. The crowd loved the vibe, and in typical festival fashion, things were very muddy on the way out.
Following the slight dramas of Essex, we headed up to Blackpool for a venue I haven’t played in a while, The Syndicate. The club now has a new bookings manager/promoter called Nick, who seems to be doing a corking job. The Syndicate always reminds me of BCM, Mallorca… The big crowd were very up for it and as loud as ever. The Syndicate has a revolving dancefloor, which can be turned on or off at will by the DJ. I kept it switched on until it made me dizzy, and then turned it off for a while. Then on, then off, then on then off, etc… Check out the pictures online.
Commencing very soon is the yearly DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s poll, voting commences very soon via http://www.djmag.com/top100 if you could spare a minute to cast a vote in my favour when things open it would be very much appreciated!
Until next time…