After a lovely few days offline at home, time comes to reflect on the last 12 months.
My 2013 review was pretty weak in comparison to all I have to share this year. What I’d give to have an ‘uneventful’ 2015 !
By far, the biggest things to happen to me were losing my Dad and my Nan. These two things alone overshadow everything else that occurred but with the help of my blog I’m able to reflect on many of the other ‘highlights’.
Musically, it’s been another very quiet year for me. Not surprising really as I’d already said in 2013 that I’d taken myself out of the running as guest DJ and had no desire to get back producing anytime soon.
February saw remixes of my track with Nica Brooke released, these didn’t seem to make much noise on the scene despite adding a new dimension to one of my favourite productions. The Vocal Booth Radio Show ceased to be a weekly affair once I finally got back on air, as I brought a monthly show on Pressure in the run up the Vocal Booth Weekender. Eventually, once the Weekender was over, I decided to draw a line altogether on presenting the show and will only be bringing it back for special one-offs, like announcing the VB2015 line up etc.
After a lengthy illness, my Nan passed away in March and myself and the kids flew to the UK to say farewell. Coming together as a Family we shared stories and jokes about growing up and just some of the tales of the roller coaster ride that has been our lives. Looking back, I am sure that was a gift to us all from our Nan in uniting us one last time.
Not long after my Nan passed, we lost one of our lovely little cats, Olivia. The kids were sure someone must have taken her. Let’s just say I agreed. This broke my heart, surprisingly. Despite not being a pet person our house is like a madhouse now as we have three cats and two dogs running around, all as crazy as each other !?
Another death that really shook me and the rest of the House community was the passing of Frankie Knuckles. I didn’t really have any kind of friendship with Frankie despite playing with him on many occasions around the world, yet losing him made me think just how far I’d come since discovering House Music and all I’d achieved because of it. I don’t mean financially, I mean all the people I’ve met, the places I’ve visited and the things I’ve done, all thanks to House Music. I was surprised just how upset I was and paid tribute as I saw fit.
One of the few guest gigs I did this year took me to Middlesbrough back in April to headline as Soul Central with Timmy. An afternoon affair went from a few beers in the pub, to Herbias shots behind the decks, to total black out and waking up at 4am with no idea how I got to the hotel. This would be the last time I really touched vodka and/or shots this year and ever since (apart from the obligatory Sunday Lockdown session) I’ve been relatively mild with my drinking.
*I just want to point out here, far from trying to justify myself, I really don’t drink anywhere near as much as people may think. It’s just that whenever I get together with friends it tends to be at one of my own events I’ve planned hard to make happen and am usually letting off steam (getting pissed). That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
May took me back to Birmingham for a wonderful event, the Choice FM Reunion. We hope to repeat this again sometime in 2015 and it was great to see so many old faces I’d not necessarily seen on the House circuit for some time.
June was the VB Summer Ball and my unofficial Birthday Party. Always a great occasion when the VB Family get together but this year was a hard slog getting the numbers up to attend and even though those that attended had a great time, I think this particular event on the Calendar has now run its course.
We also hit Ibiza HARD for a VB All-Dayer at Ocean Beach in association with Soul Heaven. This was a great day with a very impressive turnout from the faithful and a lovely Family holiday afterwards but not an experience I’ll be doing again anytime soon. Ibiza is just so expensive now it’s impossible to justify and I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable asking people to follow me there again.
I made a decision to stop participating in charities outside of what I regularly donate to this year but one cause I had to get involved with was to help a friend in need. Jack McCord was injured in Bali and needed urgent medical assistance (i.e lots of money) to get him back to Australia. After a couple of messages via Facebook we were all able, thanks to the co-ordination of Sean Doyle, to raise the needed funds and Jack now enjoys a full bill of health. This is one of the best things to happen in 2014 for me and I thank again anyone that donated. I’d never personally lost faith in humanity and the power of good friendships, this is one thing that the VB brings home to me – just how important it is to have good people around you.
2014 saw me filtering out lots more negative people from my field of vision as well as realising just how single-minded, two-faced and bitter some people can be. It never ceases to amaze me how much energy people put into trying to bring those around them DOWN instead of trying to ELEVATE themselves to better things!? Take a moment to think hard about those you KNOW are bad for your peace of mind and well being and distance yourself from them at the earliest opportunity. Your life will be richer for it.
My life is definitely richer after getting to see George Benson this year, as well as Incognito, both of them not too far from home. A trip to Croatia for Suncebeat was another great holiday and I got to meet more wonderful people and further deepen friendships with others. I didn’t play there this year but did feel I was missing out, so when I returned home I put a couple of gigs in the diary for the back-end of the year. Suncebeat was good but something was lacking for me this year. I will always recommend it because it is a great experience and the location is truly breathtaking however I don’t see myself returning there again. The gigs I booked – ADE unfortunately didn’t happen and Bournemouth came at a difficult time for me so I didn’t really get the buzz I’d hoped for.
The majority of the summer was dominated with Vocal Booth Weekender plans.
Despite starting off really well, ticket sales fell off through the summer and it was apparent to me the numbers were going to drop for the first time since the event began. This caused me lots of headaches. Of course the financial repercussions were the most worrying but I was also very concerned that there wasn’t going to be enough people to ‘Bring the Vibe’ that everyone was expecting. As it turned out, all the worries were for nothing. We eventually DID get up to 500 people (this was short of the 600 I’d forecasted) however the event was possibly one of the best yet and lessons have been learned.
VB2015 will once again take all the positives from last year’s event and build on them. There are some REALLY exciting plans in store for September with some names joining us for the first time that I know The Family are going to be really excited about as well as a few surprises to put smiles on faces and tingles down backbones. Let’s face it, every year some other event pops up that could potentially mean we lose one or two people who wish to try pastures new, well that’s fine. We weren’t the first Weekender in the sun and it’s clear we won’t be the last. We’re not the first group of people to call ourselves ‘Family’ yet I truly believe there is no other like us ! The strength in what we offer at VB as a UNIQUE event means that the RIGHT people will always be with us listening to the RIGHT music. What more do we need ?
On September 29th, two weeks after VB2014 whilst basking in the after-glow, I was hit with the news out the blue that my Dad had passed away in his sleep. Totally unexpected, one week before his 61st Birthday. The world stopped spinning. I’ve blogged about that day here, as well as the funeral here. I created a website in memory of my Dad and plan to start writing in length about my early years at some point in 2015.
My Dad was a very complicated & sometimes misunderstood character. To me, much of his life was one of turmoil. He spent much of it in conflict with himself and those closest to him. Now he is gone, I take the time to try to understand all he went through. His life was turbulent yet he did his best for us all. There is just so much to say about my Dad and my relationship with him. Now is too soon. It will come one day.
We had fallen out a few times in the latter part of his life, all my own choice but definitely not my doing. All I want is a peaceful life. He made that hard at times. Despite having patched things up with him in the last 18 months or so and us having enjoyed some Family time together with the kids back in the Spring, we hadn’t spoken much over summer mainly due to me distancing myself from his drama. He did drama well ! Looking back, I wish I could have spoken more in the weeks running up to his passing but at least we didn’t part on bad terms. Now is a weird time for me. Not being one to regularly talk on the phone and not being back in the UK much to see him, it doesn’t feel like he’s gone. It’s hard to explain, especially when my Brothers and my Mom miss him so much. I know that my life has changed forever though.
I am now making more of an effort to talk to my family on a regular basis and have connected with a lot of relatives we had all long since forgotten about. If you want to check out the Family Tree I created, take a look here.
I would like to send love to all those that have lost special ones this year, I know there seem to be a lot more than usual, maybe because I’m more aware of the pain myself now ?
I also congratulate one or two of you that have overcome serious health issues or conquered your addictions, whether alcohol, nicotine, drugs or playing with yourself. Well done !
While I mourned the loss of my Dad, we were having work done at home. A bittersweet period where I was excited at the Kitchen extension we’d been saving up all year for, along with a further guest bedroom being added back to the house.
If you’ve read my end of year reviews over time, then you will know just how hard it has been financially in recent years. Boy, have we struggled! Yet we are still here !
We don’t have much and yet, compared to some, what we do have is living the dream. Relatively speaking, from whence we came, we now have a very nice house and could not really wish for more. I am not a materialistic person, in fact thanks to my Dad and his early obsession with money, I am totally the opposite. I detest talking about money and distance myself from those that do.
In January Michelle started as a Sales Manager for a company where she was formerly training sales teams. Relative to Spain, she was already on a better than average wage (although this is still a pittance compared to the UK) and we talked at length if this was a good move for her. Well, it definitely was. She has excelled in her new role and now enjoys a new car she paid for in cash as well as many other things we have been able to work towards, brand new luxury kitchen included. To repeat, we are not materialistic but to be able to attain things we never thought possible before and give ourselves a peace of mind we haven’t had for some time is priceless. I too, thanks to the help of many, have had a great year with my Website company and enjoy being able to flex my creative muscles there instead of behind the decks or in the studio. As it stands, the future really is bright but experience has taught us well and we more than appreciate what it is like to be without and so keep that in the front of our minds at all times.
A few words about Drew and Mikey ? Well, not much to say really. They are growing at an alarming rate and every day is a learning curve for us all. They now definitely have their own personalities and it’s going to be fun watching them flourish in these important years of their lives.
I look forward to welcoming friends and family to join us all now we have the space again and hope my brothers can come back in 2015 like they did in 2014, along with my mom and aunts and even you maybe ?
Something else I look forward to is Barcelona Marathon in March. I am over half way into my training and am doing well to hopefully complete my first full marathon in good time. Once that is over I plan to get back into the gym. Mid-way through this year I worked hard in getting into a training regime and did see much more results than the last few years where I’d kind of been “playing” at lifting weights. Without the distraction of big weekends away I look forward to once again immersing myself into ‘Gym Wanker’ mode.
Thinking of getting in shape ? I can’t recommend running enough. It’s way too easy to ‘play’ at losing weight in the gym, there are too many ways to do it wrong! Running, on the other hand, is easier than falling off a bike. As long as you don’t have injuries preventing it, even if you can’t run round a track once, just by putting one foot in front of the other time and time again you simply CANNOT HELP but get better at it. Before long you’ll be running 10 miles easily. I promise !
I’ve been into keeping fit for over 15 years now but have never seen my body shape change as much as it has in the last 13 weeks since I’ve been running consistently. Feel free to get in touch if you want any help with this. We even have our own Keep Fit group on Facebook.
Other exciting plans for 2015 are a trip of a lifetime to Mexico to help a lovely couple celebrate their wedding as well, of course, as making VB2015 the best it can possibly be and bringing one or two of you across to celebrate New Year here for 2015/2016.
My end of year thoughts are a way for me to look back on my year in times to come but it is also to hopefully inspire you to reach towards something yourself in the next 12 months and to leave all the sadness and tears from the last 12 behind.
I send love to a few of my friends already married this year, the best of wishes to those planning on tying the knot in months to come, congratulations to you all that welcomed new bundles of joy into the Family and l have a chuckle to myself at how many of you will be sitting here reading this, not knowing that in twelve months you’ll have a new baby yourself !
It’s been a shit year but it’s been a phenomenal year. I give thanks for all that I have and all the wonderful people in my life. Thank you for being a part of it.
The New Year sees me concentrating on continuing to make a difference to those closest to me in any small way possible.
Inspire and be inspired, always !!