t’s 2011. It's the end of one era for Newport City Radio and my short-lived time as resident DJ at Delilah's as I had the biggest decision of my DJ career to date. What changed, how did I reach my decision, and what was Iffy like to work for?
Our time at Upper Dock Street and our time as an Urban Circle project was coming to an end. In three years, we’d recruited a diverse range of volunteers, pushing the average age of the team to greater than 25. The fact of the matter is that we were no longer youth-based. The funding for Urban Circle had ended and a new grant had not been applied for. Every aspect of Urban Circle could be packed down and run from houses or community centres, apart from ours. Newport City Radio is studio-based, so we needed a permanent home. Not only did we move premises, but we became a Community Interest Company in our own right. We were out on our own, but always respectful of our origins.
Financially it was a great year for us too. We linked up with Charter Housing to help cover the costs of radio training and developed a qualification for those who attended. Charter Housing invited some of their residents to join the fun. Suddenly we had another revenue stream, but equally important were the loads of new volunteers (including two Adams) that were about to become long serving team members.
Our traditional revenue stream when not on FM, ‘events’, also had a bumper year. As a huge fan of the Radio 1 road shows, I wanted to make sure that if we provided music to a festival, we would also deliver good quality entertainment. This would make us different to the ‘big boys’ of radio who really didn’t seem to put a lot of effort in. Apart from Maindee Festival we added more ‘events’ to our roster…
Newport City Homes Residents' Festival
Parklife at Tredegar House
The opening of Tesco Extra at Spytty
Christmas lights with 100’s of ‘festive’ yellow balloons…
…and that Skate Rink, Newport’s ill-fated version of Winter Wonderland. No ice to be found anywhere!
The trend of my family growing without me continued this year as our little sweet pea was joined by a miracle baby. In this year my second beautiful great niece, Brooke Oliva (sweet pea) was born. Another instance of love at first sight.
I started Delilah's in 2010 as their first resident DJ. It was a no brainer. Yes, I’d heard of (the owner) Iffy’s reputation as being difficult to work with, but he’d been very supportive of Newport City Radio in many ways, including financially. The plan was to deliver an over-30’s bar.
Like Fire & Ice before it, we agreed to switch the music policy within two hours of opening. Dance (with some great commercial dubstep tunes), Reggae and RNB was the way forward again. I was in my comfort zone... almost. Iffy made two suggestions, to use the mic a little less (he may have had a point) and to use his amazing set up to start mixing a bit more. I’d flirted with mixing many times, especially at Red's in Cardiff, and more recently Fire & Ice. Would this be a step too far for this radio jock in a club?
I’ll never know whether I would have turned into a ‘proper’ DJ as I was given the biggest dilemma of my DJ career in 2011. The team behind Fire & Ice had taken over Breeze. Would I make the switch from Delilah’s to become their resident DJ? The argument against: Iffy puts amazing kit in his bars and invests time and money into marketing them, but you never know when it’s going to end. With the Breeze set up it would potentially be a job for life and extra nights. The stability and money won out, and with huge sadness, I left Delilah’s.
Iffy is so passionate about what he does that he is relentless. In the first few weeks of Delilah’s he popped down to Cardiff to check out the competition. He met lots of Newportonians there and asked why they didn’t stay in their home City. They were a little bit rude, describing his bars as ‘shit-holes”. On his return to Delilah’s he was shocked to find empty glasses everywhere. What followed was a severe dressing down for the whole team. I mean the whole team, managers, bar staff, door staff and yours truly. This rant went on for almost an hour (probably extended as one of the door staff tried interrupting the main man with some sort of justification). Iffy was right. There were no excuses. It was early days so there was plenty of time to clean and collect glasses. I often wonder whether it was this experience that spurred him on to create Warehouse 54, Courtyard, and a full refit of Meze.
So, what are my five big tunes that sum up 2011?
The Floorfiller: Not necessarily my favourite, but one that I’ve used (or seen used) to pack a dancefloor.
LMFAO – “Party Rock Anthem”.
A great floorfiller, with an even better sense of humour. With a parody video using ’28 days later’ as the starting point this one was a huge global hit. According to Wikipedia:
“It is the best-selling single of all time in Australia. Worldwide, it was the third best-selling digital single of 2011 with sales of 9.7 million copies. It is the third best-selling digital song in US history. Party Rock Anthem is currently ranked Billboard's fifth most successful song of all time. It is currently the 38th most viewed video on YouTube, with over 1.3 billion views”.
Could have easily been: Rihanna – “S&M”, Snoop Dogg – "Sweat”, Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull – “On the Floor”, David Guetta feat. Rihanna – “Who’s That Chick” and “Only Girl in the World”, Alexandra Stan – “Mr. Saxobeat”, LMFAO – “Sexy and I Know It” or Example – “Change the Way You Kiss Me”.
The Twister: This is a song from that year which I normally wouldn’t have fallen in love with, but I did.
Katy B – “Lights On”.
Nice and easy. A pure Delilah’s tune and still a permanent resident on my MP3 player.
Could have easily been: Ed Sheeran – “The A Team”, Jessie J – “Do it Like a Dude”, Beyonce – “Best Thing I Never Had”, Rizzle Kicks – “Down with the Trumpets”, Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks” or Noah & the Whale – “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”
The Clubber: The one song that wanted to get me onto the dancefloor.
Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna – “We Found Love”.
Rihanna was everywhere. What I found clever was she was releasing her own material and guesting on so many others. Here’s maybe the reason why [from Wikipedia]:
“During an interview with MTV News, Calvin Harris revealed, "'We Found Love,' is the most successful thing I've done ever... It's not strictly a song by me, obviously, it's by Rihanna. She sings it...It was great to work with her... No one could have taken it as far as she did. You can't escape it here [in America]. I've heard it a lot. I've heard it probably more times today than I did when I was mixing it. Which is a good thing... Ever since the Rihanna song did well, a lot of people want to do some stuff, which is great...”
Could have easily been: Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer – “Give Me Everything”, Chris Brown feat. Benny Benassi – “Beautiful People”, DJ Fresh feat. Sian Evans – “Louder”, Chris Brown – “Yeah 3X”or Chase & Status – “Blind Faith”.
The Coolest: This is the tune that I felt was the coolest yet mainstream song of the year.
Mann feat. 50 Cent – “Buzzin”.
Could have easily been: Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”, Bruno Mars – “Grenade”, Aloe Blacc – “I Need a Dollar”, Bruno Mars – “The Lazy Song”, Katy Perry – “Firework”, Kayne West feat. Drake & Rihanna – “All of the Lights”, Rihanna – “What’s My Name” or Taio Cruz/McCoy/Minogue – “Higher”.
The Radio Tune: The one that take me back to listening to the radio or playing it on my show wherever that has been.
Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera – “Moves Like Jagger”.
Once again while researching this song I’m uncovering facts that I’m surprised with. I thought there may be a juicy Maroon 5 or Adam Levine line, but it’s actually about Christina, according to Wikipedia:
“The song also made Aguilera the second female artist to score a number-one hit in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s (the first being Britney Spears), which in turn made her the fourth female to score number-one singles in three different decades, after Janet Jackson, Madonna and Spears.”
Could have easily been: Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” or “Set Fire to the Rain”, Jesse J – “Price Tag”, Olly Murs feat. Rizzle Kicks – “Heart Skips a Beat”, One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful”, or Pink – “Perfect”.
That’s almost it from 2011. As always there's a few people to thank. Firstly, Iffy, Pam, Claire, Nurse Alex (to my Doctor Lamsie) and Matt Smooth as my DJ partner in crime.
I’d also like to thank the team at Atlantica Café Bar on Market Street for sponsoring this series of blogs. They’ve got Britain’s Got Talent star Philip Green as part of a Pride Cymru after party this Saturday.
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