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Norman Jay in KL- Anybody Can Mix Records

Author: Angie Ng / Jonty Adderley
Monday, December 10, 2001
Hugely popular and hugely respected pioneer DJ Norman Jay personifies the old skool DJ, having learned his craft on the sound systems of Ladbroke Grove's underground dub/ punk culture during the 70s. 20 years on, he's also strikingly contemporary, his Good Times rig at the annual Notting Hill Carnival being the most recognised club orientated rig of the entire event while Norman travels the globe, as a world famous DJ. Rejecting the superstar DJ lifestyle; "We get on the same night buses as people who've just been in the club," he says, Jay remains a serious and grounded individualist of rare positivity and humility.

Flying into Malaysia last week to perform a quick-fire Good Times Kuala Lumpur set, Norman Jay and his brother Joey stopped off to chat to Skrufff's Angie Ng.
"I have no real interest in the media side of DJing," a chatty but serious Norman warned as the interview began. "The crowd is what makes it work; not necessarily the music and even less so the DJs. I think too much emphasis is placed on the DJs."

Skrufff: Your online diary talks about you "desperately trying to sort out which tunes to bring to KL", how much pre-planning typically goes into your shows-

Norman Jay: "Not as much as people would expect. My music room is at home is always in disarray because I do so many different types of music gigs; one night it might be a House gig, another night it might be Old Skool Disco, Hip Hop etc. Plus, I'm not the tidiest person in the world, so I was trying to do a number of things and then realizing I was leaving to go to the airport in a couple of hours; Joey rang me and said "Norman, have you got your records ready" and I said "Hang on Joey.." (laughs) But it's all organized confusion and we know what we're doing."

Skrufff : Which records were borderline decisions -

Norman Jay: "For a trip like this, we just bring a party mix of music. When we usually do Good Times together we just bring the records that everybody knows that we love. Some are really obvious, others less so, but having a party mix of music styles is the most important thing. We're not out there to champion any particular genre, whether it be House or...You know we respond to how the crowd responds, we feed off the people in front of us and we just do our level best to entertain the people with whatever music it takes."

Skrufff: How important is mixing and the idea of taking clubbers "on a journey"-

Norman Jay: "It depends on the music. Joey's able to take people on a musical journey simply by playing records. We place greater emphasis on selecting music rather than mixing or scratching. I can do all that, we just employ those techniques to add quality as opposed to being ruled by it. If you're good at programming music, you don't need to be able to mix well. It helps if you can but it's not the be-all, end-all. there are many great DJs around the world who've made their reputation by simply being able to program music. Anybody can mix records because records are modular, they're jigsaw puzzles, they always fit. But there's a right way they fit and a wrong way they fit."

Skrufff: How possible is it to control your public image being the face of Good Times-

Norman Jay: "I have no real interest in the media side of DJing. I do what I do to the best of my ability and always do it with honesty and passion. And I think people feed off of that. If people make the effort to come out at night, sometimes having to queue for ages, travel long distances and pay quite a lot of money; then you are morally bound to give them the best night that you possibly can. It's about them, not us, we're just the people who play the records. You can have the best records in the world but if people aren't responding, then it's pointless. I think a lot of people lose sight of that. The crowd IS what makes it work; not necessarily the music and even less the DJs. I think too much emphasis is placed on the DJs but that's just a personal point of v