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Interview: Judge Jules On Ibiza's Enduring Magic, Finding A Good Lawyer, Streaming vs. Radio

After 30 years in the business, Judge Jules takes a step back and is ready to reflect on the ride.
Judge Jules

Judge Jules

When you look at the pantheon of early superstar DJs in the 1990s, there are a few names that quickly pop to mind -- Carl Cox, Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold and Judge Jules. Jules became a staple of the UK dance radio, taking over must-listen slots in the late 90s through the 2000s until he finally stepped down in 2012. He topped various DJ polls in the 1990s and toured the world.

After 30 years on the frontlines as a DJ, producer and radio host, he has taken a step back some to be a lawyer, stepping down from his BBC radio 1 position and DJing less, though still putting out records. 

Splitting time between London and Ibiza we had the chance to catch up with Jules to get some wisdom about a wide variety of topics. As an expert on Ibiza, we dive into the impending doom that many are spelling for it and why he thinks that is overblown, some advice on what newcomers should do there, how to get a good lawyer, the battle between streaming and radio and much more. 

What is a bit of legal advice you know now that you wish you knew back when you first started?

I guess it would be to actually take legal advice. As an artist, you have so many contracts thrust at you, and a depressingly large percentage of them are terrible. When you’re new to the industry, it’s easy to make the mistake of signing whatever contract is put in your hand, based on the idea that you like the person giving you the contract. However, what most people forget is that the contract is drafted by a lawyer with the other party’s best interests in mind, and not yours.

What is something new artists should look for in entertainment lawyers because not all of them are great or looking out for their best interests?

I’d like to think that most lawyers would be looking out for their clients’ best interests. But finding a good lawyer in this industry requires someone who provides even more than that – you need to look for someone who has extensive commercial connections and industry “coal face” experience. They need to understand the industry inside and out. Most claim to possess these skills, but with the industry changing so quickly, especially over the last five years, it takes someone special to make all the right legal judgement calls on behalf of their client.

As someone who has been in radio for decades, how do you see it staying relevant as a promoter of new music, notably breaking artists versus something like streaming?

Whilst streaming playlists are an increasingly valuable tool, having a human being behind a mic, with whom the listener can relate, curating a show and picking out records adds a more personal touch. That human relationship between the listener and presenter isn’t something which can ever be simulated by playlists.

You spend a lot of time in Ibiza. A lot of ink has been spilled and talk has been said about the decline of Ibiza. It is overrun by VIPs. The culture is dying. If that is the case, how does one restore the once vibrant culture?

It depends what you mean by “culture” – if you were to speak to the Ibiza tourist board they might disagree that the culture is dying. The number of tourists in summer 2017 alone increased by double digit percentages, and the numbers ascendancy has been the same year-on-year for most of the past decade. In terms of the demographic of clubbers though, yes, there has been a shift. 

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Primarily, I would say that the focus on VIP culture has resulted in the island beginning to lose its younger (especially British) crowd – who are now heading to cheaper places like Croatia for their summer music fix. Ibiza clubs that ignore the younger non-VIP crowd are short-sighted, as the young crowd is the future, and the prices in Ibiza can be out of sync with reality. Ibiza is unique and its clubs are truly special, but to ignore regular clubbers is shorted-sighted at best, and idiocy at worst.

For someone who has never been to Ibiza, what are some can’t-miss restaurants, clubs or scenic nature spots someone should go to if they have four days to a week there?

Ibiza allows one to both relax and indulge in equal measures. For anyone who has never visited before, top of the last has to be watching the sunset, and there is no better place to do that than on the sunset strip of San Antonio at Café Mambo (they do great food too, so you can kill two birds with one stone). The Old Town in Ibiza Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a fantastic place to enjoy some evening drinks along with great views of the harbour. 

During the daytime, Punta Galera is a stunning area of the island, famed for its surreal flat rocks jutting out from the cliffs like large shelves – a place to go and sunbathe or recover from the night before. And then of course, one cannot forget the nightlife, though there is so much choice it is difficult to know where to start; if you can fit in Ushuaia during the day and then Amnesia at night, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

What is one thing from today’s music culture you are glad you didn’t have to deal with back when you started, and one thing you wish was at your disposal?

Social media – whilst it’s a great tool to connect with fans, a lot of it is so superficial and meaningless.

And one thing I wish we’d had back then? Digital music files – it would have saved me (and my postman) a lot of back ache.

How do you balance law during the day and still putting out records and DJing on weekends? Does it still keep you inspired? How do prevent burnout?

The only way that you can survive as long as I have in this industry is by being passionate about the music – as soon as that goes, you can’t pretend, because people see right through you. That’s the exciting answer, but the boring and perhaps more important answer is through structure and being very organised. Being disorganised is not going to help your career, even more so if you’re trying to juggle several different plates simultaneously. You won’t succeed by winging it.

Do you have any tips for someone getting old and looking to continue raving into their elder years?

I suppose it’s a bit different being a bit older behind the decks when it’s more of a Peter Pan experience, and there are a lot of successful DJs aged 40+. When it comes to clubbing, other than the obvious ‘stay healthy’ advice, because hangovers definitely do get worse, it’s all about finding the right event for you. Some venues have a very young demographic, but then again places like Ibiza cater for clubbers of all ages – if you want to carry on clubbing into your twilight years, there is always something available.

And last, but certainly not least, as a fellow Gunner, Do you like the recent front office moves? Do you think there is a positive, title-winning future with Kroenke and Wenger at the helm?

In a word: no.

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