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Interview with James Ellis

Reported by Tartipants / Submitted 11-07-05 01:06

Being relatively new to this scene I was keen to try new clubs out. I had heard about a night in Cheltenham and I felt I owed my hometown the benefit of the doubt. I soon realised that this night consisted of a tightly knit crew who were extremely proud of what they were bringing to Cheltenham, and that they blatantly enjoyed what they were doing as well. Several incredibly talented djs were doing what they know best, pleasing the crowd. Upon arrival I was enticed onto the dance floor by this dj. His energetic and smile enticing mix was one of the best I had heard in a while, and he managed to entertain me the whole time he was mixing.

He started his dj life making tapes for friends (as they all do!) and progressed to having five local residencies. He has played all over the country and supported some of the biggest names in the hard dance scene. He once kept a 500 strong crowd rocking their socks off after a LAB 4 set!

So then… here we have one of the main men responsible for teaching the country folk all about decent music. Ladies and gentlemen… I give you, Mr James Ellis.

Tarti: So James, Residency. How did it all start?

James: Four years ago myself and two other djs, Marc Minall and Rich T, were residents at a very successful weekly Friday promotion in Cheltenham called Society (run by the now infamous Brisky of Wildchild/Monster tunes fame). This night was slowly taken over by promoters from Bristol and started to die off, seemingly only the following of each local resident keeping the event ticking over. When these promoters left, Marc and Rich started to run the night off their own backs, and I soon joined the team. It was named Residency as a tribute to the importance — musically and operationally — of each of these three resident djs to the night. We then kept a long running theme of showcasing the hard working but musically pivotal superclub residents, playing peak time sets.

Tarti: What makes bringing the scene to Cheltenham so important to you?

James: Cheltenham is where I fell in love with hard dance music, and where most of my friends and acquaintances live. If there hadn’t been promoters around putting events on when I was 18, I would have had a much less exciting social life at that age and wouldn’t have met and bonded with such wonderful like minded people over the years (sniff).

Tarti: Do you see any changes in people’s attitudes to hard dance music locally?

James: Sadly yes, the market has faded over the years. It peaked in Cheltenham about three or four years ago, along with the mass commercial interest in dance music, and has been gently declining. These days most smaller towns are mainly students and young people who are more into cheese and R&B. The real clubbers are getting older and now getting married/pregnant etc. and aren’t as mad for it. This is mainly due to the media’s declining interest in house and trance, and we are left with too many events, too many djs, too much product generally and not enough clubbers. We have had to be clever and strategic about Residency over the last 18 months to effectively ride this wave. One way we have done this is by lightening our music policy for the first half of the night to accommodate more trance and by working harder and smarter with our street level marketing. Phew!

Tarti: Would you prefer jam doughnuts or a chocolate éclair?

James: Chocolate every time.

Tarti: Who inspires you?

James: Anyone who is at the top of their game. In particular some of the UK’s most successful promoters like Danny @ Sundissential and Will @ Frantic — mainly because they aren’t djs themselves (as far as I know!). I can’t imagine having the motivation and determination to run big costly events without having the sweetener of all that glory behind the decks, so fair play to those guys.

Tarti: How many pairs of shoes do you own? (This one is for a group of ladies out there…)

James: Oh dear. Has someone told you I have lots of shoes? I have about 15 pairs on rotation — we are including trainers right?! Is that a lot? The key to making your shoes last a long time is not to wear the same ones all the time!

Tarti: What is the best part of the evening for you? The start when you are all excited about what is about to happen or the end when you can see the crowd begging for one more tune?

James: Specifically — catching the eye of a clubber who looks to be just as in love with that particular record as I am, or maybe even more so! Hard dance events are like great big musical appreciation societies and its great to share that sort of thing with a friend or a stranger.

Tarti: Favourite tune… only ONE!

James: Dark Monks ‘Insane’ (Steve Murano mix) because it’s deep, powerful, energetic and elevating. It sums up everything that I have loved about hard dance music over the last two or three years, and a bonus is I don’t hear too many other djs playing it! I NEVER tire of hearing it, Murano is an absolute genius.

Tarti: Favourite T-shirt?

James: My super tight, super white, GAS/Honda one.

Tarti: I may need pictures of that one. *cough * If you could have anyone doing a set at the Residency, who would you chose?

James: Tiesto, because it’d be a sell out and would really put us on the map! Unless we had to actually pay for his services… we’d have to do a runner at the end of the night when he asked for his 10k fee!

Tarti: What first made you want to become a dj?

James: Well one of my best mates Swen was a very popular trance DJ in Cheltenham and he used to pull so many fit girls so I thought...

No — really it was listening to a few key DJs in London circa 2000 who used to blow me away with their tunes and their amazing mixing — four of which must be mentioned: Steve Thomas, DFQ (@ Fish), Matt Clarke and Jarlath. The latter was a true friend and mentor at the time — he doesn’t play hard dance any more but if you had ever met him, or heard him, you’d remember!

Tarti: Are you married? Engaged? (The girls are going to want to know!)

James: A long way from either…

Tarti: Bungee jumping or sky diving?

James: Bungee jumping as you’d never get me out of a plane…

Tarti: Which night would you most like to play at?

James: Lucky old me has already played at most of the clubs that were of my previous wishlist ! However, I’d like to appear at the ID&T Sensation Black event in Amsterdam. 40,000+ people all in the one arena going nuts to hard, twisted dance music, all wearing black — sounds like heaven!!!!!!!

Tarti: Do you sleep on the left or the right side of the bed?

James: Generally I like to be on the left side of the bed, facing left! (Unless that side faces the wall).

Tarti: What sort of music can we expect to hear from you? (Please say bouncy…)

James: I do play bounce of course, as the bouncy HH sound of a few years ago was THE sound of hard dance at the time. That was what I first started buying so it’ll always be close to my heart, plus it’s great fun to mix and it has a fantastic friendly up for it crowd following too. I like to say that bounce is a feeling!

However, most of the time I’ll be spinning European hard/tech trance and trance bootlegs — lots of riffs, lots of vocals. This is what gets my pulse racing in my car, on my home stereo, my MP3 player and of course on the decks...

Tarti: So where can we hope to see you play next?

James: I’m playing Residency every month of course and also Afters and Sundissential @ Subway in Birmingham on a monthly basis, but a few exciting gigs on the horizon include:

The B2T Rave Aid party @ The Sanctuary in Birmingham on 20th August (a free party event with proceeds towards B’ham Children’s Hospital), Sundissential’s Bank Holiday event @ Creation in Cardiff on Sunday August 28th, and later in the year the Wildchild 3rd Birthday bash at SEOne in London on October 29th — all of these events will have a massive attendance and a fantastic atmosphere! My full diary etc. can be found on my website

Tarti: And one final question that I know everyone wants to know the answer to… what is your favourite sandwich filling?

James: Ploughmans (with lots of pickle). But remember people: sandwiches aren’t a good food choice, as bread is a poor carbohydrate source!

Thanks for chatting James. Where is my next demo?

Many thanks to Phil James for the photography

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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.

From: Kamora on 11th Jul 2005 10:35.36
Good interview and this guy looks like he will be making makes in London too. Coolio.

From: ED_case on 12th Jul 2005 02:53.48
Wicked.. a german hard trance dj Smile.. there's not enough about.. I wanna hear this guy play now!

From: raving_pixie on 12th Jul 2005 11:58.35
Thumbs up I remember listening to your demos way back when I first moved to London. I believe we share a mutual friend in a Mr Dan Burner. Razz

From: DJGRH on 12th Jul 2005 16:12.57
A really top bloke Smile One of the industry's Mr Nice Guy's Smile

Good look fella Smile

From: Miss Cyber on 12th Jul 2005 17:59.10
Thanks for the CD James - its ace! :-) :-)

From: kev on 12th Jul 2005 19:16.43
Where's Cheltenham? Is it near Brixton?

From: Lizzie Curious on 13th Jul 2005 10:47.21
nice one fella!

From: *JUiCY* on 14th Jul 2005 21:24.47
One of the sexiest DJ's I know! Wink His mixings not half bad either hehe!

From: James Ellis on 15th Jul 2005 12:20.58
Raving Pixie: Dan is a legend... Soon to be married i believe!

Thanks for all the kind words guys and gals. (i'm not german though lol!) x

From: Winter phoenix on 15th Jul 2005 16:34.18
Nice interview Tartipants! Well done you Mmmwwah!

From: Tartipants on 16th Jul 2005 08:38.40
Blush Cheers guys. Look out for this guy in a store near you....superstar dj indeed.DJ

From: Luckyfuka on 16th Jul 2005 14:30.06
Laughs out loud @ Kev

From: saucepan tits on 17th Jul 2005 21:45.53
A fun DJ, Nice one Tracey. I hope james doesn't remember when I met him - oops!

From: dj onrush on 18th Jul 2005 18:20.35
Wicked, I think Cheltenham has a wicked taste in music!

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