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Superstar DJ and Festival headliner Judge Jules talks to Frome Times

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THE Frome Festival will start with a bang this week with a special performance by dance music legend Judge Jules.

Promising a unique experience and a night to remember for audience members, Judge Jules will be performing classic dance hits with a full 10-piece live band. 

Ahead of his appearance at the opening night party for the Frome Festival this Friday, 5th July, Judge Jules talked to the Frome Times about the inspiration behind his new show, his part in the dance music revolution, and reveals how technology will never replace a DJ.

How are you feeling about opening the Frome Festival?

“I’m very excited! I believe that my project involving the live band, is something that is quite unique in DJ culture –  I don’t think anybody is doing anything the same.

“We have already taken the show on tour to five medium-sized live venues around the UK in April and May. But this was really a rehearsal for a series of higher profiles show, of which Frome is one. So we are very well rehearsed, very geared up – I’m looking forward to it!”

You’re going to be performing classic dance hits with a 10-piece band – where did you get the inspiration for this project?

“I’ve been involved in dance orchestra shows that have taken place over the last couple of years – they were effectively note-for-note re-interpretations of big dance records using a classical orchestra. It was very interesting, but this show goes a lot further than that.

“This isn’t a note-for-note re-interpretation, it’s very much about new tracks meeting old tracks – a total re-interpretation using amazing musicians.

“There’s an element of ‘jamming’ – you have the skeleton of the track, but there is a lot more scope for interacting with the crowd and improvising. The result is very ‘funky-jazzy.’”

What dance tracks can people expect? Will it be a night of nostalgia for dance music fans?

“I try to avoid saying, as you miss out on the spontaneity. But suffice to say there’s a selection of tracks that have been biggest for me as a DJ throughout my career – but so heavily reinvented that they have an entirely new take. A good few of them are mash-ups between  two separate tracks, spliced together and replayed via the band. So there’s an element of familiarity – but old tracks taken in an entirely new direction.”

Your career as a DJ spans over three decades – what was it like being part of the new wave of internationally renowned DJs in the 90s and 00s?

“It’s the dream to be doing a job that you consider part to be your destiny and part to be something that you are paid to do – a job that you’d almost pay others to allow you to do.

“It was really the 00s where it came to fruition, the nineties were the foundation stone, but it was the noughties that were arguably the bigger in terms of global brand image and touring. 

“I was very young when I was involved in the acid house scene – and from there I watched it grow. To be part of the evolution of dance culture from then, through to the emergence of the so-called ‘superstar DJs’, through to the clubs,  and through to the  proliferation/explosion of dance culture all over the world – was a real journey.

“Finally, after having been slightly apologetic for being a DJ compared to musicians, being a DJ was finally considered a craft and an art form in its own right.”

How has technology changed your role as a DJ?

“DJing hardware has changed, but fundamentally the role has stayed the same. There is no substitute for a live DJ. As a DJ you are a filter, you’re an A&R (talent scout) – no amount of artificial intelligence or any other technology can supplant that – you’ve either got that connection with the audience or you haven’t – that’s the fundamental qualification for being good at the job.”

You have many strings to your bow – DJ, producer, radio presenter, lawyer – what’s your favourite outlet?

“Inevitably its DJing live, performing in front of an audience. But all of them are complementary parts of a bigger whole. It’s good to focus on your own career, but then to have a heavy dose of being involved in the careers of others – it keeps you grounded. 

“As an artist, in order to be successful you have to be quite tunnel-visioned, very determined, almost crazily driven to the exclusion of all others, in the nicest sense of the expression. 

“Whereas a lot of the other stuff I have done has involved other artists, either as a lawyer – the business side of supporting other people’s careers – or as a manager, again propagating the careers of other artists. It’s a good balancing act emotionally and mentally, supporting the careers of others alongside focussing, as one has to do to be successful as an artist, on your own stuff.”

Tickets are selling fast for your show – what would you say to Frome Times readers to encourage them to snap up those last few tickets?

“I can honestly tell you that if you like dance music, then this is something that you will have never have seen before – and that’s a bold claim – but it really is. Nobody has done what I’m doing before – immersing DJ culture with a band.”

Tickets are selling fast for Judge Jules’s show at the Cheese & Grain on Friday 5th July. Tickets cost £20 in advance (plus standard booking fees) and are available from the website: www.cheeseandgrain.com or call the box office on  01373 455420.

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