Judge Jules puts aside his sensible head way for the 'loopy weekend' head

He was one of the original superstar DJs of the '90s, when the clubs were big, and the DJs who played them were even bigger.

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 12:59 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 1:02 pm
Judge Jules. Picture by Ryan Dinham

They were jet-setting days where DJs became the new rock stars, with the lifestyles to match.

But age catches up with us all, and for the last few years, the man known to clubbers worldwide as Judge Jules has actually been practicing the trade that gave him his nickname.

However, that doesn't mean he's given up behind the decks '“ he's coming to Southsea to play a headline set as part of the '90's Nostalgica night, which will also see an appearance from K-Klass and the live dance covers band, Choose '90s.

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'I've been a lawyer now for getting on six years. I first got my degree when I was a kid, but then I redid it.

'When you're one of the first generation of big DJs, or dare I say it, household name DJs, you never know where it's headed because there's no-one ahead of you in the trajectory, so when I hit 40 or thereabouts, I did this, restudied and got my professional qualification. I became a qualified solicitor rather than someone with a silly legal-oriented stage name and started my own practice which has done incredibly well, while not knowing where the DJing might go.

'But DJing remains incredibly buoyant '“ if anything, it's more buoyant than say five years ago.

So Jules lives this rather bizarre split life of law and dance music, which keeps him exceptionally busy.

'The corollary of this is that I don't get to see my long suffering family as much as I should!' he laughs.

'But they are quite interconnected, my practice area is music, but most of the acts I look after are predominantly either in the dance or urban sphere.

'I'm not a wage-slave so to speak, but there are some weeks where I do considerably more than nine-to-five in the office, and others where the Djing takes more of the focus.

'I do need to have a sensible midweek head as well as a loopy weekend head!'

And he's also aware that he occupies as rather unique niche in the legal field.

'There are some music lawyers who might have come in from an industry background, working for a record label or something, but certainly not as an artist '“ I think I'm in a group of one there.'

Although he keeps his finger on the musical pulse '“ he's released more than 730 episodes of his weekly Global Warm Up podcast '“ he is happy to go back to his roots at nostalgia nights.

'I just play the records I like, you can't do much more than that.  When you have a strong musical identity, you can't think about what they're playing on ['old skool anthems' radio station] Kisstory, or what they might be playing on MTV Classics, you have to think about what records were big for you personally, because if they were big for you at the time, even if they're not the ones people would instantly call the biggest of the time, if they worked then they work equally now.

'But I would never really do the same two sets twice in a row.

'It's flipping their memory with things they remember, but not what they necessarily expect you to play.'

He's also seen the shifts in tastes and technology, and licensing law, and their impact on clubland since he first burst onto the scene.

'There were more clubs then, People have talked about the demise of clubbing culture, but I think that's the headline '“ the backstory is a lot more complicated than that.

'At that time there were no bars with club-style licensing, so I think there's as many places to go out now as there were ever.

'The minute high-speed broadband was in every house, you had access to every bit of music, every DJ set, every form of art in every expression. Prior to that there was more of a 'them and us' thing '“ you had to seek out specialist areas of art, like dance music. There were clubs which were for people really in the know and they had a passionate, almost football-team like support.

'Cream, Gatecrasher, God's Kitchen, they roll off the tongue so easily. Clubs like Ministry of Sound and Fabric are still high-profile, but there aren't as many big-name club brands as there used to be, that's for sure.

'In terms of dance music being popular and being liked, I don't think dance music is any weaker.'

The broadband era has also seen a greater cross-pollination of musical styles that Jules believes has helped keep dance music vital.

'Another consideration is that maybe even 10 years ago there was a very clear distinction between urban music and dance, but now, because British urban music is much more commercially successful than it was 10 years ago.

'Back then British dance music was like the global shop window, and the urban scene was largely America acts, now there's a lot more successful British urban acts, and they often have that dance element to them. There's more of a hybrid of styles now.

'And I'll probably be shot for saying this, but the real losers in this are probably bands. There haven't been a large number of bands which have broken through, there have been exceptions, but no real critical mass to it.'

For a long time dance music and Ibiza were synonymous, and Jules had his own weekly residency there, but even that has now changed.

'I don't do it every week now. I did it every week under my own banner for 16 years and under an assortment of other banners for about another five years before that.

'My one concession to my current job is that it's impossible for me to go there every week now!'

The Pyramids, Southsea

Saturday, April 7