Before we go any further, when I say ‘private jet’ in this piece, please don’t start to visualise the kind of plane you see in J-Lo or Rihanna videos. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m fortunate to be flown from one NYE gig to another. However, when I refer to ‘private jet’ just think ‘tin can with propellers’.
My New Year’s shenanigans started in Port Rush, Northern Ireland where I was playing the midnight call at the legendary Lush. I arrived into Northern Ireland with plenty of time to spare, and enjoyed a fabulous dinner with Lush promoter and friend Col Hamilton at the adjacent restaurant to the club.
Lush was absolutely rammed, as to be expected on New Year’s. 21st century club technology makes the visual experience of the midnight hour even more breathtaking. Lush is blessed with huge LED screens circling the exterior of the main dance floor, and the midnight countdown was very vivid throughout the club. The Northern Irish crowd is famously loud and NYE was no exception – the atmosphere really blew me away. Straight after my set I headed for Belfast Aldergrove airport, where I jumped on my “private jet” and flew directly to London Gatwick.
Usually, flying into London Gatwick on a private plane would be a little tricky as it’s the busiest single runway airport in the world, but thanks to the minimal air traffic we were able to land at LGW without ‘holding’ in the sky. Because the “private jet” was not quite up to Learjet speed, we landed into Gatwick late for my set at the Brixton academy. Luckily, the accommodating promoters switched the set times around, meaning that Dash Berlin played before me instead of afterwards. It threw me slightly, as I had not planned my tunes around a very late night dancefloor.
Brixton Academy was busier than ever for the ‘Full On Ferry’ event. I managed to get some amazing pictures, which are live on the site. Ferry joined me for a few back-to-back tracks behind the decks – it would have been nice to enjoy more social time before a set in my hometown, especially as there were so many friends in attendance, but time was very tight. Both new years gigs were utterly fantastic and I enjoyed every minute, especially the “private jet”.
January is a traditionally a quiet time in he club world, with many venues opting to close for the first couple of weeks of the month. It’s usually when annual refurbs get done.
My first DJ outing of 2012 was on 20th January to India, a great way to start the year. We headed directly to New Delhi from London Heathrow with BA. India has a varied climate between north an south, with the Himalayas in the north creating much colder temperatures. On arrival into Delhi, we noticed that a lot of flights had been diverted due to fog. Luckily, our BA 747 landed safely and on time. I’d slept the whole 7 hours from London to Delhi, and, feeling uncharacteristically refreshed after a night flight, we headed directly to the hotel.
5 star hotels in India have very strict security, due to the ongoing terrorist threat. For the first half day we need to venture outside the hotel complex. It was fantastically furnished with great restaurants, 8 in fact. We decided to have northern Indian cuisine for lunch and southern for dinner. My gig location, F-Club, was also situated within the hotel complex, which made it easy getting to the decks from the hotel room. India’s two ends of the social spectrum are very extreme contrasts – the rich are rich and the poor are extremely poor. As an overseas visitor, aspects of Indian life can be pretty heartbreaking, but India is a rapidly growing destination for dancemusic and a fascinating country that I’d strongly recommend you visit.
The next day we flew to Bangalore, embarking on a mammoth 6 hour drive west to the town of Coorg for gig number two. When my manager told me that I’d be taking on a 6-hour car journey during the trip, I kicked up a bit of a fuss. In actual fact, the drive took us through some of the most beautiful parts of India and opened my eyes to cultural experiences I’d never witnessed before. Amongst numerous other sights, we passed through small villages with cows in the road and elephants walking down the street. I’ll remember the journey for the rest of my life.
On arrival into Coorg we checked straight into the hotel for a freshen-up. That was just about all there was time for, as I was due on the decks pretty much straight away. I’d never driven so far to a gig before, and the quality of the show didn’t let me down. The Storm Festival was an open-air event with a fantastic turn out. I managed to get some great pictures, which are now live in the ‘Gallery’ section of the site.
Situated at over 6000 feet above sea level, our hotel in Coorg had the most amazing views, and it would have been nice to spend a bit longer there, but unfortunately we had to jump back in the car for the 6-hour drive back over to Bangalore. About midway we stopped at a road side café for a bite to eat. The food was probably the best Indian meal I’d ever tasted. For the Rupee equivalent of around £2 we got 5 courses of freshly cooked Indian vegetarian cuisine.
The final gig of this Indian mini tour took place on Sunday 22nd Jan in the city of Pune. Before the gig I managed to catch the Arsenal v Man United game live in our hotel room, and needless to say I wasn’t pleased with what I saw (Arsenal lost). Trying to put sporting calamity out of my mind, I headed to the gig, which was a smaller capacity event in a partially open-air club. The following day we drove for three hours and flew home from Mumbai, which is a sprawling city and a definite ‘must visit’ location. Roll on the next Indian trip.
The next DJ outing was on Friday 27th Jan for what would be probably be my last live event broadcast on Radio 1, in Hull City Hall. Radio 1 devoted the entire night to proceedings from Hull, and out in front of me was a very responsive crowd as I followed huge rising star Porter Robinson. It’s been a great spell for new music recently, and Hull was a perfect opportunity to squeeze in as many brand new tracks as possible. I’ve worked behind the decks at some amazing live event broadcasts over my 15 years on the station.
On Saturday 28th I headed north for a UK double header. The first port of call was Stockton for club Moka. I had to play a fairly early set in Stockton due to the journey time between the two locations. I had fun in Stockton and enjoyed a few friendly drinks with buddies before hitting the decks. There wasn’t much time to hang around post-set, and Pete and I winged-it straight to Rock’N’Rolla in Birmingham.
Micky Slim’s night has achieved fantastic success in the West Midlands, something that’s partly due to finding the coolest underground venues in town. The club couldn’t have been busier and I loved every minute. I played a slightly groovier set, but still managed to stick to my core style of trancey riffs and big breakdowns. I had a couple of drinks with Micky after my set then hit the road. Needless to say, it was sleep all the way home to London.
The next outing was the following weekend, on Feb 4th, to the legendary Slinky at the O2 Academy, formerly the Opera House. For the first time this winter, the south of England experienced bucket loads of snow over a 36-hour period, coming down particularly strongly on the night of the gig. It caused chaos to the UK’s roads and public transport system. Some DJs failed to make it down to Bournemouth, and for Pete and I it took nearly 4 hours, instead of the usual 2. Thankfully we made just about got there, and it was worth venturing out in the treacherous conditions. Although over 300 people who’d paid for tickets didn’t show up because of the weather, Slinky was still rammed. The Opera House holds some very special memories for me and I look forward to plenty more Slinky vibes soon. I would have liked to spend a bit more time at the venue after my set, but due to the challenging weather conditions we opted for hitting the road. It took us equally long to get home, but thankfully in one piece.
The next outing was a body clock killer, as we embarked on a two day trip to Las Vegas. Amanda joined me on the trip and we arrived into LV feeling reasonably relaxed after a bit of rest on the 9-hour flight from Heathrow to Phoenix. The 1-hour hop up from Phoenix to Vegas reminded me of a summer flight from the UK to Ibiza. It was full of very drunk loud people, many of them screaming at the top of their voices. It’s not without reason that Vegas gets described as the UK’s Ibiza.
There were plenty of mates who came along to Vegas for the show, and we spent the majority of the day leading up to the gig hanging out. The gig was busy – musically, Vegas is a bit more commercial than other US cities, due to it being a vacation destination, but the atmosphere always excels. The following day I had a meeting with the promoter about doing some pool parties in Vegas over the summer. This is where the action is at in Vegas during the summer months. Later that day Amanda and I flew directly back to London Heathrow with BA. It was the first time we’d flown directly back to London from Vegas, so not having to connect made a pleasant change.
The next outing was a midweek trip over to Ireland on Wednesday 15th Feb to play Rag Week at the University of Waterford. I flew directly to Dublin, and thanks to Ireland’s vastly improved road system, headed straight for the gig and made it in good time. Over the past 10 years Ireland has invested major money in its road infrastructure. Although the Irish economy isn’t in great shape now, I anticipate that the money that’s been invested should help things in the long term.
It was unusual to play a student gig at an unconventional point during the term. Normally speaking, student gigs only take place at the beginning or end of the academic year. I’d bought a new camera that day so that I could get some new pics for the site – check them out when you get a second. It was rammed, and there was no shortage of smiles. After the gig I was driven straight back to Dublin airport, where I spent the night in the airport hotel, before flying directly back to LHR the next morning.
On Friday 17th Feb, following my live Radio 1 show, I played the legendary Gallery at Ministry of Sound. I hadn’t played The Gallery since November, which meant plenty of friends vying to come along for the ride. In fact, it took two carloads to ferry everyone from Radio 1 to the club. Richard Durand was playing before me and the main room couldn’t have been busier. I’ve been beavering away in the studio recently, and the MoS was the perfect opportunity to road test the stuff I’ve been working on. I’ll have a new release every month on the Vandit label, so plenty to look forward to. Travelling as much as I do, playing a club just down the road from my front door was an unusual luxury, even if my friends were trying their hardest to get me drunk, and I can’t wait until my next visit in May.
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More next time…