Out with the old

Looking back through my Diary for 2010, it seems impossible to believe that it actually contained 12 months.  Here I give you my review of the year, warts and all, remembering the good times and the bad.

The highs

I started the year in Australia for the whole of January.  The tour didn’t start off particularly well due to a rather thoughtless individual who wanted to play promoter but couldn’t back it up.  It would seem that this was a sign of things to come, with me spending a lot more time this year dealing with time wasters.  As always, some good people came to my rescue and all ended well with a great series of gigs and some quality time spent with great friends.

I visited Seoul for the first time as well as checking out new cities throughout Europe.  I got to hang out with close friends in Serbia, Croatia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Portugal, Ukraine, Italy & Dubai.  I played for a couple of new parties in the UK and visited some of my favourite places with my best friends.   Soul Heaven rocked once more after a long break at the Ministry of Sound and around Europe.  
Without a shadow of a doubt, the two musical highlights of 2010 had to be my return to the Southport Weekender as well as my own Vocal Booth Weekender.

My wife, Michelle, was laid off from her job at the beginning of the summer, meaning we spent most of the long days together as a family for the first time in a long time.  We enjoyed numerous family trips here in Spain and in Italy, with the first solo holiday for my wife and I in ten years to Dubai.  Apparently life began for me in June as I hit the big 40.  The Weekender loomed and the fact that I hardly worked through August and September meant I had all my energy to focus on the event.
In the run up to the VB Weekender I had everything under control yet there were always the worries and last minute hitches to contend with, and then once the event had passed I was quite literally “written off” for weeks.

My year ended on a high.  Despite a nightmare journey to the UK from Spain, thanks to the snow storms across the country, and the Vocal Booth Reunion more or less getting snowed off, myself, Michelle and the kids enjoyed a wonderful Christmas in the UK together.

The lows

As I reflect back on 2010 I am immediately drawn to a rather dark period, mid-November.  Throughout October and November I had a few gigs.  At first I was glad of the down time, but as the weeks passed I looked back and was suddenly hit with the realisation at just how few gigs I HAD played since the summer ended.  The weekly radio show and podcasts kept me in the loop regarding all the latest music, but rocking the dance floor was a distant memory.  Had my decision to be more selective in where I played come back to bite me in the ass?

The prospect of employment where we live in Spain is bleak to say the least.  The credit crunch in the UK & Europe has practically crippled the construction industry here and all the services that go hand in hand with it.  Things were not looking good for Michelle on the job front.  My phone wasn’t ringing and the inbox wasn’t exactly bursting with requests for me to play anywhere.  In the space of just a few days I really started to ponder what lay ahead for me career wise and I suddenly became very low.  The weeks and weeks of no work meant we faced the same worries that most face. I thought long and hard about the future.  
I joked weekly on the radio about having no gigs but was actually embarrassed by it.

After doing some motivational reading I decided to swallow my pride and reach out to one or two people close to me.  I found it strangely therapeutic in telling them of my situation, it was like a weight off my shoulders.  
I spoke to various people in the industry and told them that I was ready to face a new challenge, some interesting conversations followed and a few seeds were sown, so let’s see if they bear fruit in 2011.

I have been around through many ups and downs in this business and I have seen music trends come and go. I have continued to ride the waves with a fair amount of relative success.
I will quite happily continue to DJ in clubs around the world for the next ten years or so, although realistically I am not sure I can see this happening.  I am used to playing as the guest DJ at big events, there used to be a time where I could confidently walk into ANY venue knowing I could deliver a great set.  However, I now feel the gap between the music I want to play in relation to what the MAJORITY of people want to hear is growing too wide.  It seems that it is no longer a case of good or bad music, simply whether a song is recognisable or not as to how well it is received.  Of course I am talking about your regular Saturday night club and crowd.. not the specialist underground parties.. thankfully it seems that 2010 saw these flourish.

The buzz I get from putting two pieces of music together and sharing that with others is beyond compare, so I will always be a DJ, but I’m not sure how long I want it as my primary source of income.

I am getting tired of “the game”.  I find it harder and harder to deal with people who feel the music world owes them a favour because of how long they have been in the business.  It frustrates me when people achieve a modicum of success and then lose all sense of reality and act like divas or pop stars.  I am tired of dealing with people who cannot give me a straight answer or stick to a deadline. I am tired of having to deal with the bullshit that comes of out people’s mouths on a daily basis.  I tire at the hype in the lead up to events and then the silence that follows when they don’t deliver.  I bite my tongue when I read about the ridiculous claims of how many tens of thousands of hits websites and podcasts get and how many thousands of units records would sell if it wasn’t for those pesky file sharing bloggers.  I’m sick of producers lying about how much they command for remixes and how much DJs claim they get paid for gigs.  Do these people not realise that the industry are gossips and we all know the truth ?  Do they not realise that by fabricating sales figures, they are not helping the decline in sales ?  In the words of Flava Flav “Don’t believe the hype !”

Don’t get me wrong, I know these are problems that everyone faces in their every day lives and as a patient person I can usually deal with it, although I found myself at the end of my tether this year.  Enough is enough.

It is obvious that I am a larger than life character.  I have only ever been about the music and sharing that music with others.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and whilst it should be apparent that I don’t actually care what people think of me, I don’t like to think that people have the wrong impression of me.  I am a true Gemini.
I find less and less people with the same way of thinking nowadays.  The decent people all work together and we still have fun, while the haters and fame seekers seem to multiply.  I only want to surround myself with positive people from here on in.

This is one of the reasons why I recently deleted half of my friend list on Facebook.  The way I see it is this, if people want to know about my music they know where to find the information.. having 5000 people, most of whom are spammers, clearly doesn’t make any difference on record sales or DJ bookings, so I am getting back to basics and concentrating on quality over quantity.

I don’t claim to be the first person to have had these revelations and I definitely won’t be the last.  I hope that by letting out all these thoughts it will encourage others along the ups and downs they will face.  Maybe 2011 will open up a new chapter in my DJ career with a younger crowd being turned onto the music I love instead of the noise they enjoy at the moment, maybe it won’t.  I simply want to continue to enjoy great music with great people, is that too much to ask ?  I look forward to all that is in store for me either way.

On reflection

Having just read back through what I have written, amended, deleted and re-written (the latter part especially) it does all seem a little doom and gloom.  In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth !

In hindsight, I did allow my vision to become blurred by pressure.  The major high of the VB Weekender caused what I now know to be a slow and gradual decline in my spirit until I hit the bottom.  I wouldn’t  say I was actually depressed (seeing as I know a lot of people who were actually clinically depressed) but I was very low indeed.
Despite many people in the industry seemingly in the same situation and it being a seasonal quiet period, it WAS a wake up call and I am now glad it happened.

I will continue to make music because it brings me so much joy.  I have enjoyed great success with my own releases and remixes for some world famous artists this year and we will continue to push new talent on Sounds of the Booth.  Our recent release for Mn2s saw Soul Central sitting pretty at the top of the sales chart and is a welcome return to production for Timmy & I.  The Vocal Booth radio show continues to be the driving force behind my musical inspiration and the Vocal Booth Club Sessions remain in the top spot for downloads every time one is uploaded. One good thing to come out of my free time was taking part in Movember, seeing myself & my team raise over £3200 for charity.

I finish this review sat on a sun-soaked terrace on the glorious Gold Coast in Australia.  By the time it is published I will already be in a tropical paradise, ending the year as I saw it in on Magnetic Island for the start of another month long tour down under.

With my diary already filling up with spring time gigs across the UK and Europe, as well as a couple of key Summer bookings already in place, I face the New Year with high hopes and expectations.

I am most excited about what lies ahead for The Vocal Booth Weekender.  In September 2011 we will invite an amazing group of people back to the area where I live.  They will embark on a week long series of parties that will once again lift their spirits and give some of them the time of their lives.  This is not empty hype, this is fact.  There are many things associated with the event that are in the pipeline as well as other events for different times of the year here.

As the economy slowly limps to a recovery, I want to be firmly placed to take full advantage of it.  I will also continue to tell as many key people as possible about my availability to branch out into whatever field may arise.

Making this blog public is the final piece of the jigsaw to get a few things off my chest, leave the negativity behind and welcome in 2011 with optimism and a clean slate.

I would like to thank Michelle (who never gave up the fight and now has a full time job), Drew and Mikey for being the grounding force behind my career and every move I make.  They are my world.  Whenever I am down I look at them and they give me hope and make me count my blessings for all I have in life.  We all have our health, live in a beautiful area and so really want for nothing.

Without doubt, one of the best things about 2010 is that I made a whole heap of new friends.  It is these friends, alongside many of you that have been with me through thick and thin, that I thank for all the support and positive comments throughout the year.  It is your inspiration that allows me to constantly want to share the wonderful music with you and enjoy jokes and good times.  Long may they continue !

My friends, I truly wish you all the happiness you deserve.. Happy New Year !

Andy.

Enjoy that ?

12 Comments

  1. Wow that was a bit deep Andy! (it also took me ages to read the RSS) I think the crowd at this years Vocal Booth was pretty special and it was the highlight of 2010 for me and many others. To organise that was pretty damn impressive and you deserve a massive pat on the back.

    Don’t forget It’s people like yourself that give others the drive and determination to continue trying.

    2011 is gonna be a better year I can feel it!

    Happy new year to the Ward family x

  2. Bloody hell Andy..That was deep!!. I have also had a year with a lot of lows and not many highs. But through the music we both live for, it always takes us thru to the other side. I for one will always support what u do and may 2011 be bigger and better for us all. Much Love as always bro. x

  3. from the heart as always, respect mate and massive thanks for all your hard work. hope 2011 restores some faith, enjoy OZ 🙂

  4. A beautiful read! it takes a very strong person to share their inner most fears!
    Wishing you a successful and prosperous New Year to you and your Family!

  5. I certainly feel what you mean Andy. Being a promoter/DJ and a radio host in SA, I thought that 2010 will be a great year for my career, but alas it didn’t turn that way. I guess we’re all motivated in some way to live, learn and grow. I hope this year is gonna turn out exactly like that. All the best

  6. Hi Andy!, I’m with Richie Barthez, thank you in Spain have known djs that if it were not for you I think that in life we would have known why I’m proud to be your friend first and second to organize an event like this in Spain that if not for this type of event you had not been made and many of us would not know which is the word Soulful & House.

    What if it is certain that this year will return to the vocal booth with one or more in the family and also will be another year to remember as the other two.

    Thanks Andy!, and happy year and not worry that the great djs like you always have a booth to spin!

    Hola Andy!!, estoy con Richie Barthez, gracias a ti en españa hemos conocido a djs que si no fuera por ti yo creo que en la vida los hubieramos conocido, por eso estoy orgulloso primero de ser tu amigo y segundo por organizar un evento como este en españa que si no fuera por ti este tipo de evento no se hubiese hecho y muchos de nosotros no conoceriamos los que es la palabra Soulful & House.

    Lo que si que es seguro que este año volveremos a la vocal booth con uno o una mas en la familia y que sera tambien otro año para recordar como los otros dos anteriores.

    Gracias Andy!!!, y feliz año, y no te preocupes que los grandes djs como tu siempre tendra una cabina para pinchar!!!

    Im sorry for my english

  7. Andy one day you should write a novel,and you sure as hell won’t need a ghost writer!
    I will happily queue up for my signed copy ;)….
    Best wishes to you and the family for 2011, and hope you are recharged to the max in sunny Australia x

  8. Andy, It’s been a long time since we last saw each other but I often think back to those wonderful Sunday mornings at the Marco Polo bar with fond memories. You always epitomised what I believed in while DJing and there’s nobody I am happier to have seen achieve what you have over the years. I retired from DJing a number of years ago having become disillusioned with the whole scene (at the much lower level I managed to reach) and concentrated on making a living in the real world. The credit crunch has hit everybody hard and I just hope you will continue to do what you do best. One final thing…Keep The Faith!
    Scott

  9. I just wanted to say, that throughout this year I have taken to following you, your face book presence etc. Shame I didn’t get to watch you play too much, something I aim to cvhange this year.

    I have kept my ear to the ground in my endeavour to grow Solfuel and yours is a name that is repeatedly mentioned in terms of great nights out, The vocal booth, which turned out to be the highlight of many peoples calendar and one sadly I missed out on.

    You are on the right track mate, so continue to spread your words and music in just the way you are, and NEVER let the day to day shit that life throws at us all prevent you from seeing what a great job you are doing.

    Massive respect and New year wishes to you and yours xx

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