norman jay MBE interview

How did the diamond jubilee after party come about, where did the idea come from?

I’m doing a series of dates in and around London in the run up to Carnival, sort of fund-raising dates, and general awareness dates cause I don’t do that many dates in London any more by choice…

Why is that ?

Well in this age when everyone has access to you on facebook and all these media things, and I’m on the radio and stuff, I just find that keeping off those things, my gigs are full. Less is more…

The after party is just one of a series of gigs. I got asked a couple of months ago to be involved in the diamond jubilee celebrations for the Queens 60th Jubilee. There’s a festival going on in Battersea Park of performing arts and a celebration of British Culture of the last 6o years, all kinds of things going on there and I was asked to do the only licensed Dance event providing that we bring the bus. So we’re going to be doing music, just like Carnival – Carnival on the South Bank essentially, seven hours of music spanning the last three decades…

Do you own the actual bus?

There’s several incarnations of it. There’s one which we had specially fitted out when I had sponsors many years ago and up until a few years ago we use to rent it, license it and bring it up to London. Then we had the idea of building a scaled model stage, life size but it means it collapses and we can fold it and its transportable, which is an amazing bonus because I recently did a gig in the Alps and brought the bus to everyone’s amazement. It’s essentially a stage.

What’s happening with Good Times at The Carnival?

I didn’t do it last year for the first time in thirty years. I thought I needed a break but I’m back this year, same space. There’ll be even more people trying to get there but we won’t be able to accommodate everybody sadly, and thats another reason why we’re doing this after party for the sort of  hardcore ravers, the party people, and as a fundraiser to raise funds for our return to Notting Hill Carnival as well. We’ve never had a grant from the Arts Council and we’ve had to find some way of raising the capital to make sure that we’re there.

What are feelings towards today’s Monarchy and the Queen?

I’m indifferent. I’ve no problem with it. I’m not a monarchy basher, I’m not an anti-royal. As far as I’m concerned they were there before I was born. I’ve came and meet them, they’ve done nothing for me aside from recognising and acknowledging me in 2002 and I’m eternally grateful. It’s a fantastic accolade to have received. I’ve no issue with it. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t even know I was on their radar.

Did you receive a letter? 

I got a letter from the Prime Minister’s office, I thought it was a hoax so I ignored it. I went away on tour to Scandinavia and then I had a call from one of the big cheeses at the BBC because they were trying to track me down and the only way they could find me was from my work at the BBC. I was in Stockholm or somewhere and they told me that he’d had a call from the Prime Minister’s office desperately trying to get in touch with me, so thats when I knew it wasn’t a hoax.

How do you feel about the club scene in the UK?

To be honest I’m not really part of it any more, I haven’t been for a long time. Because I put on my own events and I’ve always gone my own maverick way and done one- off party events. I mean as far as being on the periphery of it… the London club scene is thriving, as good as its always been, really diverse. Its gone back to smaller clubs which is much better. I was never really into the massive superclub thing if I’m really honest but it was there and I enjoyed it when it was there, but all these things are cyclical. The Drum and Bass and Dubstep scenes are healthy, loads of good 60’s Mod gigs I do are fantastic – its always been that great, there’s a wealth of choice so whatever music you’re into in London… the House scene is still strong too. It’s all good!

Are you still playing as much House as you did in the 90’s?

I played the soulful stuff. I played the noise end of it as well. For me, to keep me interested I need variety which is why I do a House gig one day, go and do a Jazz gig the next day, the next week go and play Drum and Bass. I need the variety of music and that whats kept my head, and I guess, kept me busy.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out?

Be patient.

Vinyl or digital?

Again, to each his own. I’m not a Luddite and I’m not a slave to technology. Whatever a dj chooses to use and its right for them then that’s fine. I’ve just gone for the happy medium. I use cds cause of convenience, on occasion ill use a laptop if I’m on tour and if I’m travelling a long way, and very rarely ill use vinyl. I’ll use vinyl if it’s my own set up and I’ve set it up myself – I’m not taking valuable records to go and play on an unknown system, I could be scratching valuable records on a safety pin. I burn what I need onto CD or my son puts it on a stick for me. At the end of the day people don’t really care as long as they hear the music they want.

How do you feel about re-edits: Dj’s like Greg Wilson?

Greg’s is probably one of the few from England and Danny Krivit. They are probably the two pioneers, they were doing it long before anybody was doing it and I tended, in those days, to play stuff by those two. Now every DJ thanks to technology feels that they are able to do better than Nile Rodgers did in the first place, so I’ve no real interest in re-edits. Actually, its worked for me because most of the Dj’s on the House scene are playing re-edits, so when you come and play the original it sounds like a new version they’ve never heard before – reverse psychology, so it actually works for me.

Songs are making a come back? The mainstream of clubs used to ignore them.

I don’t really know what happens in the mainstream – I don’t swim in it. All I know is the electronic stuff I play tends to be more instrumental but the older stuff I play and the classics tend to be more song based, so I get the best of both worlds.

As you get older do you feel less need to be out all the time at clubs etc?

It’s not necessarily the less you can do, but the less your inclined to do. If you want to go to those things they’re on…

“All one ever does is jump on the club train and get off when it’s your stop, but the club train still continues by picking up younger passengers”




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