High Regards: An interview with Dance legend Judge Jules

We got to have a chat with the iconic DJ Judge Jules who will be playing Highest Point this year.

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 21st Mar 2022

Judge Jules is an artist who hardly needs introducing. After a stint on Kiss FM the DJ became a household name during the days when he would helm a residency on BBC Radio 1. Not only has he used his musical talent and knowledge to become a DJ but he has taken on multiple roles in the industry from being an A&R to a producer, promoter and specialist in music law. 

Kicking off his career in the 80s, it cannot be understated how much of an impact he has had on dance music, especially in the UK, with him achieving 15 top 40 chart hits. His presence has also been legendary on Ibiza where he has held the longest-running DJ residency in the island's history. He'll be back there this Summer which will definitely feel as though we're back to business as usual.

The DJ will be playing Highest Point Festival this year which takes place from Thursday 12th- Saturday 14th May. We spoke to him ahead of the festival to get a sense of what he'll bring to the stage.


You've been in the music industry for a few decades now, do you still feel as though you're picking up new things all the time?

In the last 10 years as well as being a DJ, I've had my own legal practice. My legal practice focuses largely on dance music and UK black music artists and those two ecosystems. I've done 5000 gigs, I've released a stack of records, and not in a big-headed way I've done it all when it comes to DJing. Which isn't to say, at the same time, you're only as good as your last gig. I still take that same sort of excitement that one had 30 years ago, knowing what new tunes you haven't previously played, that you're going out with in your box for that gig.


What do you feel has given you longevity within your career?

I just don't think you can fake the love really. There's been a lot of DJs that have had shorter careers who I've known well, who have just sort of slightly fallen out of love with it, not necessarily out of love with music, just pulled out the love of going out and performing. I wouldn't give it up for the world. But for some people it's when they reach a point where it ceases to be fun, you're probably doing 20 hours of prep time and travelling time. That for some people loses the shine. But for me, I'm lucky enough to still DJ and play some really big events and the buzz is still there.

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The way we consume music has changed quite vastly compare to when you were starting out, what do you feel are the positives and negatives of the streaming age?

The positive is accessibility to the market. But the negative is the size of the market, the amount of new releases every week. It's very difficult to stick your head above the parapet. I think now if you were running a label, they wouldn't sign anybody if they haven't created a DIY bubble for themselves, and kind of created a position in the marketplace already.

The music isn't enough, artists need to kind of generate aesthetics themselves. The difficulty in sticking your head above the parapet is quite a negative thing about streaming. When the internet came along that conveyor belt of consumption started moving many, many, many times faster than it ever did. This meant that people had less time to sort of pause and take stock of their consumption of the creative industries.



There's more of an emphasis now on artists building their own personal brand, have you ever felt the pressure to do that?

Well, the thing is that I did it when it was easier to do it. I did it at a time when there were very few touch points to building yourself as an artist. There was only Mixmag really at the time, record shops, pirate radio, the odd show on Radio 1. So if you were making records, if you did all of those and you did them reasonably well, then you were ahead of the game really. Now it's so much more difficult to kind of find that niche for yourself.



Over your career have you had to change your style at all or do you tend to stay close to your roots?

Well, I'm a lucky one really. But I've always liked quite a broad genre base of things, I like House, I like Trance, I like breaks, I like progressive. Many DJs feel almost like a prisoner of their perceived style and are frightened to step outside of that style. And I don't blame them for that, because it's very different. It takes a long time before you can be well enough accepted that you can take chances to do what you like, irrespective of genre. In my case I've always been multi-genre, it's got to be over 125 BPM. It might upset some purists who just want to play one style, but for me, that's the way my heart connects with music.



When did your music discovery start?

When I was less than 10. Yeah, I would just go down to my local record shops in London and spend my money in them. Having family members who are a bit older than me who had more sophisticated tastes than any 10 year old could possibly have. Also, my uncle used to be a DJ, so I'd rifle through his record collection. When you're young, if you're lucky enough to have older family members who've got relatively sophisticated music taste, it puts you on the front foot.



If you could work on a track with any artist right now who would it be?

It's not just about music. It's not just about, you know, somebody's got a great voice, was a great lyricist, or is a great songwriter. It's whether you gel with somebody really because you're only going to create great art if there was a chemistry and you therefore need to get to know that person. We live in an era of collaborations and it's a bit like slinging mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. Some of it works and some of it just doesn't, so it's quite difficult to hypothesise who would be your ideal sort of sonic bedfellow.



What is it that still keeps being a DJ interesting to you?

It's just the energy of the crowd. You could go out twice in a row, play exactly the same records, but played in a totally different order and it would do a totally different thing to the crowd. So it's that constant game of it's almost like playing a Rubik's cube with people's emotions. I've tried to sort of to mould things so that they really work to create something quite special and to be consistent.

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Since your early days of going over to Ibiza, how do you feel the culture has changed there up until now?

Well, I think the biggest change is the transition towards more daytime stuff and more sort of VIP stuff which I think is a bit of a shame. Before they always had VIP terraces and stuff but it was a great equaliser between the rich and the poor people from all walks of life, all parts of the world. They would meet on the dance floor, regardless of your background or status. Now everybody wants that VIP thing, but that sort of mental vibe on the dance floor when all the clubs had smaller VIP spaces, it was fantastic.



We're having you over at Highest Point this year, what can people expect from your set?

Just finding energy really, it's difficult to say because I don't walk out the front door with a planned set. I just look at you the whites of people's eyes and then take it from there. But my philosophy always has been and always will be "you're only as good as your last set". So no resting on one's laurels, just give your give 100% every time.



Over the last couple of years you've been connecting with people by playing livestream shows, how important was it for you to still share music with people during the pandemic?

Super important, I've got so much positive feedback. It was all people had for a period, especially during those early, you know, the first six to nine months of COVID, where everybody was a little bit frightened. Nobody experienced anything like this in their lives and the ability to do live streams on a Saturday night was about what people had really.



We can't wait to have Judge Jules at Highest Point this year, if you want to buy a ticket or find out more information about the festival then click here.


Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.









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