- Thu, 2006-10-12 17:01
After spending most of his spare time over the last 2 years in the studio, one of global dance music's most iconic and popular figures, Judge Jules, is to release his first artist album, Proven Worldwide. Taking the opportunity to thoroughly road test every production, Jules has crafted an album that utilises all he has learned about dance music during his enviable career. To mark this milestone in his career he also let the cameras follow him for an exclusive additional DVD, giving a tantalising glimpse into his fascinating life.
Charismatic and creative behind the decks, Jules has built up a huge worldwide following, thanks to his proven ability to rock dancefloors, from the smallest, sweaty clubs to the biggest festivals. His BBC Radio 1 show is one of the most influential on the airwaves, regularly breaking new dance music and providing the soundtrack to a Saturday night for over 5 million listeners.
I Like Music caught up with Jules whilst he was sifting through some of the hundreds of mp3s he receives to chat about his debut artist album Proven Worldwide, new single Ordinary Day, Ibiza and DJing.
“I like music because… there's nothing else better to bury yourself in.” Judge Jules
ILM: So, a single and album coming. First single from the album will be Ordinary Day. Can you give us your own personal description of the track's whole vibe?
Jules: Ordinary Day is just a nice song. Ulitimately it's a love song, but quite a sedate cool love song. They are kind of telling a story but they are not telling a story.
ILM: Your debut artist album, Proven Worldwide is out in October. Which track did you have the most fun making?
Jules: Probably the track 'Keep Me Running' as I did the vocals on it. I sang the vocal as a guide for someone else and it was one of the miraculous moments where it came out sounding allright. It was only really at the very last minute we decided to keep my vocal on it and not drag another singer in. I've written quite alot of guide vocals in the past and gone into the studio to sing them, and then pass a lyrics sheet and the rather embarassing vocal that I've recorded over to them to learn the song, but it was one of those ones that ended up sounding good and not so frightfull that I'm worried the recordings will get into the wrong hands. They'd be fodder for Radio 1 christmas parties, and I'd get laughed at a lot [ilm & Jules laugh]
ILM: I wanted to ask you about Keeps On Slipping as well; you did the vocals on that track too ...
Jules: I did yeh, that was done once I'd got over this very major mile stone I didn't really mind doing any more. Againd, its all quite repeated, thats more of a repeated harmony I suppose than 'Keep Me Running' which is more of a lead thing.
ILM: As a DJ you obviously play quite a bit of other people’s music, and you have done a lot of production before, but Proven Worldwide has been written, composed and created by you. How does it differ playing others tracks to your own on the radio and in the club?
Jules: Yes I have made lots of stuff before, but its always been me and somebody else, its not been under my own name. I couldn't make something with someone else and then put my hand on my heart and say it was my own unique work. But with this I can. I just think, as a DJ you make records for a number of reasons. It's something that most leading DJs do. Most of us have got studios; you do it because you want to make your own exclusive tracks, and make your sets different from other people's. You might do it because of the vaguerys of the way music turns up, you can wait weeks and weeks for music you like, and then all of sudden an absolute flurry come along, so very ofen I've gone into the studio at the tail end of one of these periods where their hasn't been anything of a particular genre that I like, and therefore thought 'f*** it, I'd better make it myself to kinda fill that gap. I didn't really set out with the intention of creating an album. Being in the studio is my day job, or about 3 days week day job, and some of the tracks are just for Dj sets and go no further, and this is a collection of the ones that stood the test of time and worked in every location I played them in, hence the album title.
ILM: Are there any particular records, maybe 1 or 2 tracks that will always make it into your record box?
Jules: Well in common with most Dj's these days I dont play records, I play digitally, I play CD's. I can't think of that many DJ's that play vinyl anymore. A couple of them might bring the odd bit of vinyl along to pretend, just to turn up with a record box, but you never see them playing them. I've been playing CD's for 3 years so you don't have to get rid of things so quick, like if you have to carry loads of vinyl. With CD's you can have 500 or 1000 tracks, and with some laptop programmes it can be a lot more. For some certain months there will be tracks you will play at every gig because they create the very best atmosphere, and generally speaking, the ones I play for the longest are the ones that I know least other DJ's have got, to a degree. Claim exclusivity to what you play.
ILM: You are one of the most important and relevant names/DJs in modern club culture. Everyone knows who you are. Are you able to smell the roses and enjoy your success?
Jules: Yeh, I wake up every morning and count myself lucky that I do the job that I always dreamt of doing, ever since my earliest memories. To that extent I'm never blase about what I'm doing, because so many people don't end up doing what they aspire to do from a very young age. So if that's smelling the roses, then yes, I'm like a florist. haha [ilm & Jules laugh]
ILM: A lot of the DJs I speak to tend to say the traveling can get tough. How do you deal with that side of DJing?
Jules: It is tough, I get about 200 flights a year and I've got 2 small kids and a missus, and I'm away from them quite a bit, so that's hard as well. There is a loneliness factor as well, when your trudging around on your own from airport to airport, it's not particularly glamourous. It's only when you're there doing the gig, and to an extent the socialising before and afterwards, that is really fun, but still the buzz of performing to a crowd and the joy of doing something I always dreamt of doing, ultimately makes it all worthwhile. DJ's are notoriously bad at maintaining relationships and what-have-you, but the grounding factor of having two little kids is very very important to me.
ILM: You talked of working with others earlier. Do you have any dream collaborations? Anyone you’d really love to work with?
Jules: It's difficult, because most of my boyhood idols were people who wouldn't necessarily work with dance music. I mean Paul Weller was a massive idol of mine when I was a kid; whether he would be an obvious candidate to work with is more debatable. I guess the ultimate people to work with are those you'd go weak at the knees if you ever got the oppourtunity to meet, which would actually make you very bad to do a co-production with. I think someone on equal footing.
ILM: Is there a piece of music making software and/or hardware could you not live without?
Jules: Yeah Logic, the sequencer program. Logic is the brains behind everything and most dance music producers at a professional level use either Logic or Cubase. Beyond that, we're moving into a world of plugins as opposed to the world of external synths; ideally you want to use both. There is no plugin or synth that is used on every single track, but obviously the sequencer is.
ILM: And can you describe the Judge Jules process of making such brilliant tunes?
Jules: I think the first thing you've got to do is go into the studio knowing what sort of track you want to make. On the album, some tracks are vocal, some are part vocal, some are slightly more techy, some are more trancey. You've got to have some sort of vague bluprint before you even start. If you just start tinkering away, you end up, more often than not, getting something very wishy-washy. For instance, if you know you're doing something more trancey, you wanna start with the chords and not be satisfied until you have a very memorable set of chords on exactly the right sound, and then build the track around there. Its kinda similar with the vocals too, but build the chord and then try and write the song. Don't go too far down the line of finished production until you've got the song element sorted out. Whereas, if it's a more groove based track, you could start with a drumbass upwards, but you have got to know what you are doing in the first place. I think having the idea is fundamentally the most important thing.
ILM: Definately, a project to work on.
ILM: Do you have advice for young singers/DJs/musicians starting out?
Jules: I guess the advice for DJ's has got to be make music and ideally promote your own parties. I think doing those two things are extremely important. When it comes to getting your music heard, the more you can do in terms of making direct connections with people, as opposed to sending out unsolicted demos, the better. I get over 300 pieces of music every week and I am forced, to a point, to employ somebody to filter them down to the tracks that are more suitable for my taste. There just wouldn't be the hours in the day to listen to 300 tracks a week. So, if youre making music, try and identify the label/DJ that would appear to be correct for that style of music and try and cultivate some kind of direct relationship with them. In some cases it will be quite easy and in some, a lot more difficult. Really, you are much more likely to get your music heard if you cultivate relationships rather than just whacking out demos.
ILM: What is in your CD player right now? What are you listening to for pleasure?
Jules: To be honest, throughout the summer at Judgement Sundays I play a funky set in the back room of our club as well as doing my main room set, and playing house is a bit of a hobby, a sideline to what I do in the main room, and I've actually recorded my set every week from the back room because its playing tunes that are different, I've been listening to those [Jules laughs] .. pretty much the whole summer in the car, you know, it's good listening music for Ibiza.
ILM: Can you describe your favourite place on earth?
Jules: It has to be Ibiza really. Not forgetting London. London has everything and Ibiza is pretty dead in the winter, althought I do go there frequently in the winter. I'll be going there probably 4 or 5 times before next season. I just love it, its got everything. We've got a house there with all the creature comforts. I dont have to travel with clothes because I've got a duplictate set out there, and decks, Sky TV, toys for my kids, you know, all the important things in life; big bed, shutters that keep all the daylight out [ilm & jules laugh]
ILM: all the essentials...
Jules: Yeah, decent sound system, swimming pool...
ILM: Sounds gorgeous, well earned mate.
Judges Jules debut solo-artist album Proven Worldwide is out on 9th October and Ordinary Day is out October 2nd both on Maelstrom Records.