2012 – The Year as I Saw It

As always, to get a perspective of where I started 2012, I read my review of 2011.
I am happy to say that this year has been much better for me, for several different reasons that I will run through here. Look out for the hyperlinks in red which will take you back to a more detailed blog about the subject.

“Time Marches on, never-ending, Time keeps its own time”

Julie McKnight

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”

John Lennon

Just two quotes that immediately spring to mind when I think back on the last twelve months.

First off, I have to apologise for my lack of VBCS mixes this year. I was astonished to see that I have only done two for the duration of 2012, I think this is down to the fact that I have been keeping myself busy with other things than the music. Saying that, there are still an abundance of mixes I put out and all can be searched through and downloaded by clicking here (including one or two secret gifts !)

If you want to hear my end of year musical review, grab the latest Vocal Booth Radio Show here.

The year started with me doing some manual work for my wife’s company, stripping out their warehouse and moving stock to a new store. This gave me some much-needed money at a time when I hadn’t many gigs to shout about and also pushed me into helping them out with some marketing, for all intent and purpose I was a glorified flyer boy but I enjoyed walking around the streets of the Costa Blanca in the glorious but cold sunshine and again, am not ashamed to say that the money came in handy. ‘They’ say everything happens for a reason, and it was during my many hours walking around the golf courses and beaches for 3 weeks that I had the chance to think of better ways to market their company.. one thought led to another and to cut a long story short Wards Websites was born.

twitter300x300This is one of the highlights of the year for me. I have enjoyed working on my own websites over the years (how do you like the new look by the way ?), in the last 9 months with this new venture I have helped many of my friends get the website they always dreamed of. I would like to thank Steve Reed, Pugwash, Dan Kelly and A Deeper Groove for putting their faith in me and giving me an opening portfolio to build on, as we move into the new year I now have over 25 sites under my belt with several waiting to be started on, I might also be working part-time on an exciting new project if all goes to plan.
Much like being a DJ, this has started out as a hobby for me and is slowly starting to take up more of my time on a daily basis and I am always learning new things. Do get in touch to see if I can help you with anything.

Continuing along the same lines, I recall a blog called Dodgy Dealings in March. I shared a few thoughts about questionable tactics by some of the online streaming companies and it sparked up a nice debate and also got me some more work. Since that blog, my mobile app has now been blocked from any changes, so if you enjoyed using it, I recommend you install the Vocal Booth Weekender app instead which has all the features and many more. Grab it here.

Ok, sorry if that all sounded like blatant advertising, it wasn’t meant to and rather than breaking down each individual blog of note, I will list them at the end for you to look through. Let’s get back to more juicy stuff.. like how often I have thought I was going insane etc. That’s easy.. every day !

Timmy Vegas and I managed to get a new Soul Central track out on Yoversion Records which seemed to do OK but it definitely didn’t start an avalanche of gig offers or increase any hype for us.

Gig wise, the year has been relatively quiet. Nearly all of the events I have played at have been Vocal Booth gigs or VB related. Saying that, I still have been fortunate to play at 2 (3 if you count the VBW) of the biggest gigs on the Soulful House circuit, the Southport Weekender and Suncebeat Festival in Croatia. I am honoured to be able to play at these events year after year and am equally honoured to be confirmed again for this May in Minehead.

Moving back to the Vocal Booth Weekender, 2012 has been, without a shadow of a doubt, our best year yet and The Family continues to go from strength to strength. It is solely this passion from a core group of people who have come to play such a large part in my life that keeps me active in the music scene. There have been times when I have seriously considered giving up my radio show for good, and then I am reminded about how special the people are I get to chat to and share the music with, so it goes without saying that I continue to go on…

“Living life for my Family, Loving life with my Family.”

Coming back to the gigs, I haven’t pushed myself one bit this year. Despite being a great DJ (if I say so myself) I have always had to chase my contacts for most of my bookings. I can’t be expected to headline at new events for new promoters if I don’t have any new tracks out there of any major importance and I find it impossible to go into the studio to create something which feels forced, simply to get gigs. Playing to a new bunch of people who don’t really give a shit about where I’m coming from is the last thing on my mind.
That is the only downside of the VB Family (and of course Southport/Croatia), I have been spoilt for the last 5 years and no one else comes close as a crowd to play to.

I am happy to see the music I love getting played a lot more around the world now, but I am also a little concerned that there is an element of elitism which seems to be apparent in the scene, now more than ever. in 2012 Deep House was the buzz word, with Ibiza and the likes jumping on board and concocting some new hybrid of what you and all call “Deep”, tracks, producers and DJs are getting hyped beyond all compare. I’ve heard many of these tracks and performances and they are average, to say the least. Of course, music is subjective and that is only my opinion, yet I do feel I put forward a valid and balanced view on it all. To me, there is no difference in playing to 1000 people who only want to hear the latest EDM hits or playing to 250 people who only want to hear the unobtainable tracks they know about from Soundcloud mixes etc.. I watch people going crazy to DJs who play flat music, just because all the so-called hip people are raving about them. It is very un-inspiring indeed and it is this reason why I am quite happy staying out of it all.
As a DJ, I know I could give ANYONE a run for their money, musically and technically, I’m just a little ‘over’ playing to strangers. Once I realised this fact and accepted it, I have been much happier. Don’t get me wrong, if I suddenly create a tune that gets me into new venues playing to new people, I’ll happily do it.. but on MY terms.
I guess I’m just repeating what I’ve said here many times before… Let it go Andy !!

Actually, back in August I wrote a lengthy blog about ‘My Journey‘, where I came from and where I am now. Take a read if you missed it. It explains, in detail, all of the above a little more eloquently.

Remember Portugal ? Just another in the long line of wonderful moments we have shared and laughed about here and on Facebook. I spend the majority of my time alone in front of this machine and so it is very therapeutic for me to have some kind of release on-line and Facebook has been just that throughout 2012.

Since I now own a ‘new’ iPhone 4 I am going to start using Instagram (username = handyward) a lot more to document day-to-day photos that I really don’t think anyone would be that interested in.. as you may have noticed I have massive changes of heart between sharing too much info and then pulling right back and not sharing much at all… such is the fight in balancing being one who loves to share, one who is a promoter and one who is a moody bastard.
This year I joined Twitter (username = handyward) but I really don’t use it much, I just post my Facebook updates there and the occasional Instagram photo and that’s it. Recently, most of the industry people I follow annoyed the fuck out of me so I deleted all of them. Which reminds me.. I have started swearing too much on-line. I must stop. We don’t swear in front of the kids and they are both getting to the age where they are on-line more and more and I would hate for them to start reading my Facebook updates !!??

Talking of the kids, they continue to do great at school and have their health which I am eternally grateful for. Life at home has been wonderful this year and Michelle continues to do amazing in her job and was recently promoted to store manageress. Another reason why I feel blessed is that I am able to take care of things at home while Mrs Ward brings home the bacon.. we make a great team and recently enjoyed our 14th Wedding anniversary, being together 21 years. She definitely is an angel.
In May we all visited Dubai as a Family and had the holiday of a lifetime, with Mikey even joining me on the decks for my set. Check it out here. Mikey then played his own full set in front of his school friends in July. His set at the Vocal Booth Weekender was another of the proudest moment in my life. I am a very lucky man.

*Edit* – Despite being very blessed and happy, there have been times this year where I have had my patience pushed to the limit by these two as they move ever closer to their teen years and start to find their personalities even more. Poor old Mikey, he looks set to be capable of a good mood to put me to shame (he can be a right miserable little shit) and Drew forgets herself at times and gets a little lippy with her mom. She knows better than to try that on me! I am sure things will get just as infuriating and yet rewarding in the coming years. Result… Not !

Now to September and the Vocal Booth Weekender. I don’t need to say anything more about that ! 2013 sees our 5th anniversary, I have some big plans to make it a year to remember and will be making a special effort to include Pressure Radio in all of them. Pressure Radio has helped strengthen the foundations of the event and vice versa I believe that the event has helped the awareness and reach of the station. It is a winning team. Next year they celebrate 10 years of running and we have a massive party lined up in June which will be an invite-only affair. If you are subscribed to this blog then you will be receiving your invite in the early part of next year.

It seems like 5 minutes since the VB ended and the hype continues between the crew with an amazing end of year party in Birmingham recently. I cannot forget to say a massive shout to the Beat Players for their help with the London parties.. I am always keen to give credit where credit is due and every single person that comes to these events help to make them special. Long may they continue.

I could ramble on about other smaller moments through the year, if you are that interested just start here, scroll to the very bottom of the page and click the forward arrows at the end of each blog.

2012 has been a very tough year for many people. I know of many close to me with serious health and financial issues and I hope and pray that things make a change for the better in 2013. The world continues to throw some very unbelievable news stories and natural disasters our way, as always as we end the year and commit the bad times to the past we can-but-hope for a brighter future for all concerned. I have to give a quick mention to the amazing Olympics and Football in the summer… Rule Britannia, Viva Espana !

Speaking for myself, a positive outlook and having less debt than this time last year is the position I am in and all I could wish for considering how bad things are in Spain right now, another reason for me to feel blessed.
The only time I seem to get stressed is when I deal with other people, pretty ironic for a DJ/Promoter, wouldn’t you agree ! One of the things I really cannot stand is time wasters and fortunately they are few and far between in my life. Adopting a slightly selfish approach to certain situations has given me back control of my emotions when people would have driven me mad in the past and allowing myself to share the burden and responsibility when organising things also helps. I also feel I am able to express myself a little better now where I would have let things eat me up before. I end the year in a very good place.

Moving forward, I will be using this blog a lot more to help me catalogue events as my memory continues to weaken. I also just discovered a fantastic app which is available in mobile or desktop computers that is EXACTLY what I am looking for. This mood swing calculator will keep a track on my ever-increasing roller coaster of emotions and daily mundane thoughts and will allow me to share the results in graph form this time next year. Exciting ! If you enjoy watching me lose my mind from time to time, just click the mood meter to the top-right to see what’s currently going on in my head.

My friend, thank you for your undying support through thick and thin and please feel free to use this opportunity to share some thoughts about your own year (it is now even easier using Facebook profiles), I would love to give you a chance to unburden your last 12 months and make room for all the opportunities the next 12 bring. If you aren’t ready to share with the world, write your thoughts down and then throw them away, I PROMISE you will feel better for it. By making a plan af action for the coming year you also kick-start your subconscious into gear and are already one stop closer to brighter days !

Onwards and Upwards !

With Love,

Andy.

2012 highlights:

Ghost Writing – An unbelievable offer via email
VB North PartyThe first of the official VB events
Tenaglia Quits – Big words that hit home from a master
Southport Weekender – Tales from Minehead
Friends of the Booth release – A great testament to the producers in the VB Family
Dubai Revisited – Ward on Tour 2012
Chip off the Old Block – Mikey on the decks
Suncebeat 3 Report – Tales from Croatia
Late to the Party (Disclosure) – Hot property for 2012, can they keep it up ?
Jesus Loves Me – Legendary tales from Portugal
How Clubbing Changed the World – Flashbacks and tears, Acid !
My VB Experience – Tales from the Vocal Booth Weekender
London Reunion – Tales from London
Got my Mojo Back – Feeling the vibe again
B Sides Project – Unearthing lost treasures
Birmingham Reunion – Tales from Birmingham

P.S – I just remembered, two days after publishing this review, about a great trip myself, Michelle and the kids made to London in March to the X Factor live tour at Wembley. Just wanted to put that down to remind myself in the future.

Enjoy that ?

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