The pioneering British DJ – who has an MBE for his services to music – has been playing at clubs around the Middle East. We caught up with him to discover a few little-known facts…
It will always be Good Times in Middle East.
‘When I come to Gulf I play under my Good Times moniker, which basically gives me a free reign to play across genres, different styles, new and old, and really mix it up in a classic Good Times party, which is what I prefer to do. But I’m happy to come there and play 100 per cent house, or hip hop. My tastes range from ’60s right up to the present day’s drum and bass and dubstep. I come there with a mix of stuff which is what I like to call accessible. Never predictable – but always accessible.’
He’ll never write off an entire genre.
‘I have a general appreciation of all things good. I’ve never really been dismissive of any music form or new dance music form or genre that I didn’t understand, because experience has always taught me there will be an example of that genre that really floats your boat and drives you crazy. You’d be denying yourself to deny you like it, to deny that you’d want to play it.’
He’s not easily fazed.
‘I’ve had some amazing gig experiences, like London’s Notting Hill Carnival every year – we’ve just celebrated 30 years at carnival this year, with perhaps the biggest crowd we’ve ever had there, with 10,000 people refusing to go home after we’d finished. Amazing. Playing at the Big Chill in the UK every year in front of 30,000 people is an amazing experience. Playing huge festivals in Australia and New Zealand for similar-sized crowds outdoors is fantastic, and something any DJ would love to experience in their career. But I’m equally at home playing in a hotel bar with 300 people, as opposed to playing in a field with 30,000 people. If the crowd is right, and the place and the vibe are right, then the party’s usually very good.’
Paul Weller is a huge fan, and the feeling’s mutual.
‘I love Paul’s stuff, including his current album, which is great home listening. What I play and what I listen to are quite different. I like a lot of rock and pop stuff for listening, but not necessarily to play outwards. Playing out, the music for me has to be more dancefloor, because people come out to dance and not to listen. If you want to listen, you’ll do that on the radio and on the internet. But, you know, I’m happy on both counts.’
He’s not here to educate.
‘I always play for my audiences. I don’t necessarily come there to dictate or teach them anything. First and foremost, I come there to entertain. I won’t be frightened to play the most obvious pop-tastic radio track, if it means I engage my audience right away. It’s the trick of the DJ – win over your audience as quickly as possible so you get their trust, then you can maybe take them on a musical journey.’
He’s not easily annoyed, but being beaten by Arsenal will do it.
‘I guess one thing that riles me is when [UK football team] Spurs get beaten by Arsenal. Arsenal fans rile me. But don’t tell anyone!’
But he has a coping method.
‘I look at old videos of when we [Spurs] used to thrash them. Or I watch really old videos of when we beat them in the Champions’ League. That always cheers me up.’