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 firstname.lastname@example.org . I reply to each and every one received.
More next time! Jx