DJ Norman Jay MBE lets the cat out of the bag

We chat to DJ and festival organiser Norman Jay MBE to find out what big plans he has up his sleeve.

We are super excited about Good Times in the Park. Tell us how the idea came about?

I’ve been doing Carnival for over 30 years, and we felt the time had come for us to branch out and do our own little thing ourselves, where we can enhance the Good Times carnival experience. At Carnival – given the nature of the event – we had very limited space, so by going into a green filled site, we can offer better facilities and have additional stages. It’s not something we have just done on the spur of the moment; we have been planning something like this for the last 10 years.

How will it be different from Good Times at carnival?

Well, the major difference is that it won’t be free. Carnival is a street party, this is a festival. Now we’re heading to a secure site, so you’ll still get ‘good times’ for free, it’s just all the other acts you pay for!

Good Times has been THE sound system at Carnival for three decades – are you surprised at how far its come?

I’m surprised at how long it’s lasted, but no, I’m not surprised. It is completely different from what you can get anywhere else. As long as we take care of the people who come to us, and give them the best time of their lives, we will always continue to be successful. We are people-focused and we look after our friends and our family. That’s the difference about us and what we do; we know all the people who come, or at least the vast majority of people who come. It’s the Good Times family.

What does it feel like having some 15,000 revelers hanging on your every beat?

(ha-ha)…. Yeah, ‘course, it’s a fantastic feeling, a very privileged position, that people feel that they can trust you to entertain them. And it’s a musical education at the same time.

You have DJ’d around the world, including regularly at clubbing mecca Ibiza. Where’s the best place to DJ in the world?

I have had my best festival experiences playing in Sydney, Australia. But I have had equally great gigs playing in clubs in New York, in South Africa, and then playing beach parties, and Ibiza clubs. Loads of great places I’ve been able to play!

You’ve come quite a long way since your warehouse days back in the 80’s. What’s changed in you since then and do you ever miss those days?

Yeah I do miss them, because we had a kind of carefree attitude in those days. No health and safety issues, no rules about people dancing, partying and congregating. Since all of those rules have come in, it makes it difficult for us to hold a truly free-spirited, off the cuff, random party. I miss those days!

House has sustained your interest for three decades…

I’m a follower of music and people. Music is no different to life, every day something new happens and you either embrace it or you walk away from it. I love all things new; I’m a modernist. Even though I play a lot of old records, I have a modernist approach to everything.

Did growing up in a pre-gentrified Notting Hill have a big influence on your musical career?

Yeah, I guess it did. It’s a fabulous place to have been brought up in and live, and it will always be special to me. I made my name in Notting Hill, made my career there, not just by playing in clubs or festivals or parties, but from carnival, which we’ve been doing for so long!

Going back, how’d you come into owning your first turntable?

It took me ten months to save up for it. Doing crap gigs, working in bars, doing odd jobs. They cost a king’s ransom in those days.

And from those early days to the Queen bestowing an MBE on you. How did that feel?

That felt fantastic because it was so random and unexpected! It came completely out of the blue, and I didn’t treat it seriously because I thought someone was trying to play a joke on me. But when I released it was true, it was a phenomenal feeling. And as I was the first and only DJ in the country to be awarded an MBE, it makes it an even more special recourse and one of which I am very proud.

DJing for me means…

It’s connecting with my audience, and sharing my love and passion. Their smiles make me smile, their enjoyment heightens my enjoyment. It’s all about the people in front of me.

What’s Good Times in the Park all about?

It’s all about the people who come, to give them the best Good Times in the park carnival experience. To give them a great array of live acts, DJ’s and a really inclusive, family vibe. There will be no strangers at Good Times in the park. Even if you don’t know anyone, and you buy a ticket and you come on your own, I guarantee you will leave that event having made friends for life.

Any big plans we should know about in the pipeline?

Yeah, we got some fantastic additional acts, which we can’t name just yet, but keep checking, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Prepare to be amazed in the next few weeks, when we are finally in a position to announce the additional people that we have got performing over the weekend!

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