Norman Jay explains why he's "unashamedly a crowd pleaser"

Norman Jay
Norman Jay

So what’s the essence of good deejaying?

It’s all about realising it’s a two-way thing, earning the trust of the audience and then acknowledging your audience, says Norman Jay who is delighted to be heading back to Worthing (St Paul’s, Friday, September 20).

“I don’t really know what I am going to be doing in Worthing, but I know that it is going to be good. I don’t really plan my sets but there will be a lot of genre-hopping.

“I will go all over the place, sometimes predictably, sometimes unpredictably.

“I know St Paul’s well. I have been there three or four times. I come and visit annually at this time of year.

“It is one of the ones I look forward to. Over the years, I have got to know quite a lot the people down there. I have been down to the south coast three or four times this year, and the visits have been the highlights of my year.

“It is a good connection. There are a lot of old Londoners that have grown up and had their kids and have moved down to the coast, and I think I remind them of their youth. I take them back. There are a lot of regulars that I have got to recognise.”

And in that sense, it is the people that matter more… more than the venue.

“I have always considered myself a people DJ. One of the things I have always said is that you have got to make friends with your dance floor as soon as possible. I am happy to be poptastic or accessible or however you want to say it. I wouldn’t use the word cheesy!

“But a good DJ is someone who acknowledges his crowd. I am unashamedly a crowd pleaser.

“I earn the trust of my audiences so that they will allow me to take them with me. I always think you have got to give everybody their three minutes of fame on the dance floor. You have got to get their trust, and you have got to acknowledge them.

“It is a symbiotic relationship. That’s what I mean. I have always considered myself a people DJ rather than a slave to the technology or a slave to the beat.

“Occasionally I speak. Some modern DJs don’t speak at all. Some of the millennials don’t get that at all. It is just push a button and download and that’s it and you have got the music for free.

“I am glad that I have realised the value of speaking, or acknowledging your audience, of having that connection. I am an organic DJ.”

Overall in his career, Norman reckons he has probably spent far more time trying to win over an audience than he has with an audience which has been with him from the start.

“Sometimes there is an audience that you can’t work, and I relish that. You are learning all the time. I am not fazed by any situation whether there are 20 people or 20,000 people.

“ They will always get 100 per cent from me. I have always approached it that I go along to a gig as me and that’s all I can be.”

Born in Notting Hill, Norman played his first gig aged eight at a tenth birthday party. Influenced by his father’s record collection of blue beat, ska and jazz, by the late 1970s he was considered an emerging authority on contemporary Afro-American music including funk, disco, soul and jazz fusion.

During a series of late-70s trips to New York, visiting family, Norman was inspired by the city’s unique and vibrant club scene, and on his return to the UK teamed up with his brother Joey to build the Good Times Sound System, playing funk, soul and disco at Notting Hill Carnival.

Throughout the late 80s and 90s, Norman continued to build a reputation as one of the world’s most popular DJs, packing clubs to the rafters wherever he played, taking the underground sounds of rare groove and house firmly into the mainstream. The turn of the century saw Norman receive an MBE from the Queen for services to deejaying and music.

Tickets on 0844 249 1000. Doors 7.30pm; start time 8pm.

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