Preview: Norman Jay CBE gears up to play the Big Chill

Norman Jay

Norman Jay - Credit: Archant

There are a lot of good disc jockeys in the world – but it’s not often that one is so brilliant, and so influential, that he is honoured by The Queen.

But that’s the privilege bestowed upon Norman Jay MBE, an iconic force of musical nature who graces the turntables at King’s Cross’ Big Chill next week.

Forever associated with the Notting Hill Carnival and the Good Times stage, where he plays to around 15,000 revellers a day, his eclectic and innovative sets have made him a massive draw wherever he plays.

He cut his teeth spinning at illegal warehouse parties – many of which were also in King’s Cross – during the 1980s, before establishing himself on then pirate radio station Kiss FM.

Since then he has gone from strength to strength, securing a regular slot on distinctly legal BBC Radio 2, travelling the world plying his turntable trade, and today is one of the biggest names in the business.

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But despite his fame and fortune he is very happy to be playing a gig that is a kind of homecoming for the veteran jock.

“I’ve got a love affair with the Big Chill,” he said. “I’ve always been part of them since the early days at the Union Chapel [in Upper Street].

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“I grew up with them and they grew with me. Then they got me involved in the second or third festival they did in the enchanted garden.

“I really miss them all – they were a good community of people to play music to.

“Hopefully this will help me reconnect with them.

“It’s two or three years since I played there and the last time was great.

“You couldn’t get one more person in there. It was roadblock in the truest sense, so I’m really looking forward to it – it will be a Good Times Big Chill special.”

The superstar DJ – real name Norman Joseph – has had a busy summer, coming off the back of “one the best carnivals we’ve ever done” and after the King’s Cross show is jetting off on a mini tour of South Africa.

“The last time I was there was 12 years ago, at the time of 9/11. All planes were grounded and it took me three-and-a-half hours to get through security at Heathrow on the way back.

“It’ll be nice to go back under better circumstances.”

And how does a man so integrally associated to the King’s Cross of old see the gentirfication of the area?

“I love the fact it’s being redeveloped, I want to ride my bike around the new bits but haven’t had the chance. But at the same time I’m gutted to lose the history of the site.

“Back in the day we had so many parties down there – the old railway sidings were the best. Once you got in no-one knew you were there. Some of them would get 3,000 or more people.

“There was a real counter culture of artists, students and down-at-heel kids. I’ll miss that.”

Norman Jay MBE plays The Big Chill House on Saturday, September 28, as part of the Mixcloud Record Store Social, which sees some of the UK’s biggest record shops, like Sounds Of The Universe, Phonica Records, Juno and Boomkat, come together to spin some tunes along with the legendary selector.

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