06/04/2009 04:58 PM
British DJ Norman Jay made his name with illegal raves in the UK. Now he's bringing his 'euphoric' music to Dubai - legitimately.
The king of summertime cool, DJ Norman Jay believes his "meaningful, inspirational and euphoric" music won over anyone who took the time to listen over the years.
Even the British government - once determined to ban the kind of illegal raves which helped him make his name - was eventually impressed enough that they made him an MBE (a British civil honour), one of the first DJ's to be honoured in this way.
One of the most respected DJs in the world today, Jay says his music is about keeping people happy - which has obviously paid off and provided him with fans the world over, including Queen Elizabeth II. "It was an honour to collect the MBE and my family were so proud," says Jay ahead of tonight's gig which will kick off the summer music season at the Warehouse, Le Meridien Village.
"It was such a surreal moment and sometimes I still pinch myself today to remind me it actually happened."
The hand-over, however, was touch-and-go for a while thanks to the reliability of the British postal system, explains Jay. "I hadn't received a letter from Downing Street and the first I knew I got a call to ask if my choice not to contact anyone should be taken as a refusal to accept the MBE.
"I was so shocked I asked the lady to courier me a new letter because I thought it was some kind of Jeremy Beadle You've Been Framed set-up."
But in more than 40 years as a DJ, he says to accept the award and be recognised by the British Empire was his greatest honour and finest hour.
"It was in 2002 and I put a suit on for the first time in a long time. We borrowed Jay-Kay's stretch Mercedes limo for the drive to Buckingham Palace and I got loads of fantastic photos. It was very special for me."
Famous for his many hats, Jay was the original party-starter - a fitting title since his gig tonight officially gets the party started at Dubai's latest club, launching the Summer Sessions for iLL Communications and Events this week.
"I love coming to Dubai and have played there many times.
"It feels like home in lots of ways, because the crowds are always so responsive. I think having people from all over the world in one place really helps."
With no memory of wanting to be anything but a DJ, Jay believes he was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
"My earliest memories of being a DJ go right back to when I was about eight. I just wanted to play records and make people dance. It's what I do, I've done it my whole life and I don't know anything else."
Jay's other gigs include playing at Mick Jagger's birthday partyand entertaining many other A-list celebs, film stars and fashion icons. Jay says it was while playing at the Obama inauguration after-party that he really started to appreciate his position.
"I don't like to name drop, because I don't think it's really important. But I have played at lots of famous people's houses. I don't think it matters where you play as long as the crowd you are playing for are happy.
"I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive. I get to do what I love for a living and have also had the chance to play at parties people pay thousands of pounds to go to."
Journalists have been trying to get their hands on Jay's iPod for years and none have succeeded yet.
"I guard it with my life," he laugs. "It's my life and my world and people would be pretty shocked if they saw the diversity which graces the screen on a daily basis.
"I don't really get inspired by one artist and love all the greats, like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and James Brown, to name a few.
"I don't have a favourite DJ either, because I'm a fan of the music, not the person who plays it.
"I have everything from classical to Broadway and everything in between. I think all kinds of music makes the world go around."
Norman Jay kicks off a month of DJs spinning their tracks at the Warehouse, Le Meridien Village.
June 11: Alex Barck of Jazzanova headlines.
June 18: DJ E.A.S.E from Nightmares on Wax makes his UAE debut.
June 25: Damian Lazarus finishes the month in style.
Don't miss it
Tickets cost Dh95 and are available at the door. Doors open at 10pm. For bookings or book information, call 04-7022560.