Extremely excited about heading to Dubai this weekend, ready for a set next Thursday at Sunstroke.
Here are a couple of interviews I was asked for, as well as links to a slamming 60 minute mix. I also have a very big surprise in store for two unsuspecting people, all will be revealed on Sunday ! I can’t say anything just yet in case of prying eyes !
Sunstroke in Dubai
No, not that kind – Andy Ward brings his beach party ashore Discuss this article
Returning to the Infinity Bar and Terrace at the Radisson Blu Downtown on Thursday May 3, this time the Sunstroke team is flying in UK DJ Andy Ward to host his Vocal Booth Weekender. A brand he founded more than a decade ago, last year’s event in Spain’s Costa Blanca attracted more than 500 people.
Ward, 42, has been a player on the UK music scene for more than 20 years, spinning at many of the country’s top clubs as well as hosting the weekly Friday night slot at Birmingham radio station Galaxy 102.2, and enjoying success as one half of production duo Soul Central. To celebrate bringing the brand to Dubai, Ward has created a fresh hour-long podcast to wet your appetite (available online at www.sunstroke.ae/category/podcasts).
We caught up with Ward to get the lowdown.
His sound is…
‘Sweet, soulful, vocal, uplifting and deep. I like to take my DJ sets through most of those genres. In the early days people such as Junior Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia were huge inspirations for me, which is hard
to believe now due to the direction they then went. Other names that spring to mind are Kerri Chandler, MAW, Grant Nelson, Jeremy Sylvester, Sasha, Carl Cox, Micky Finn… I could give you an endless list of people who inspired me through the years.’
How he got into DJing…
‘By chance, a friend had turntables and I had a go – I found I could do it straight off. I was hooked. I took out a bank loan and bought a full setup and some vinyl from a different friend who had already got bored of being a DJ. It started purely as a hobby – I only went full-time as a DJ when a job I was working on ended and I realised I didn’t actually need to work – my DJing was paying me so well.’
The first record he bought…
‘I couldn’t honestly answer that for sure, but among my earliest memories are George Benson, Motown compilations for my dad’s birthday or a Diana Ross album for my nan. My own records would probably be Yellow Magic Orchestra or The Jacksons. I have absolutely no idea of the last piece of vinyl I bought, but the last piece of music I bought was a new Robert Owens tune.’
His worst near-death experience…
‘When I was about 10 I swallowed a coin and almost choked to death – it lodged in my windpipe. I was rushed to hospital and had an operation to have it removed. I was devastated as later that day I was due to play in the cup final for my football team.’
His worst night behind the decks…
‘Timmy (Vegas) and I played as Soul Central in Dublin. We got a little carried away before the gig and were pretty incoherent when we got there. The crowd wanted to hear music we really didn’t have or want to play and it was very uncomfortable all night. We even had complaints from the management of the club about our behaviour. That was the beginning of the end for me wanting to play to big rooms.’
If he had a time machine…
‘Just for a night? I’d probably go back to a massive rave, none in particular, but being with all my friends dancing without a care in the world. Or I’d go back to last weekend when I had a wicked kebab.’
Sunstroke’s free Vocal Booth with Andy Ward is on Thursday May 3 from 4pm at Infinity Terrace, Radisson Blu Hotel, Downtown Dubai (04 450 2000)
By Rob Garratt
Time Out Dubai,
Funk, soul and good times are natural bedfellows for Dubai’s sunshine, and it’s a sentiment shared by Sunstroke. They’ve taken their daytime catamaran parties inland and have Soul Central’s Andy Ward playing on Thursday May 3. We found out more
Andy Ward Interview
You’ve had an impressive career, going from an underground house hit in the 90s to topping the charts with Soul Central, to living in Spain and touring the world – what’s been the highlight along the way?
Looking back now, there are so many individual highlights, it really is impossible to pick one in particular. But without a doubt the best thing to have come out of my career is the amazing group of people I have met along the way, all over the world.
And what’s the next chapter in the Andy Ward story?
I’m currently working on a new project, creating websites for my producer and DJ friends. There is a gap in the market for fully loaded websites for the music professional. There is no secret that the financial crisis around the world had affected my previously busy touring schedule as well as a change in the music tastes of many of the big clubs. I have been in Spain for 9 years and never had any intention of playing out here, which is a good thing because where I came to is a desert for any decent nightlife.
You’ve seen the club scene change over nearly 2 decades – what’s been the best advancement? And what would you change back?
The best advancement is the technological progression in equipment, both in the DJ booth and in the studio. Without a doubt the internet has played a massive part in allowing me to get my sound to a wider audience. If I had the chance to change anything, maybe I would take more chances when playing to larger audiences. I am my own worst critic when playing and there have been times when I have done what was right for the floor where I wish I would have stuck more to what I wanted to play. Saying that, I specifically remember it took me a while to stop playing for the purists/more knowledgable in a crowd and once I found the happy medium, my sets where a lot more energetic. I guess I have come full circle.
How would you describe your music style now, what can we expect in Dubai?
I have always said, I consider myself to be a party DJ. Having played to so many different crowds I am a good judge of what I can and can’t get away with and having played in Dubai many times before, I know that I definitely can play as soulful as I want, as long as there are some good sing-a-long moments throughout the set. You can expect big vocals and some dirty dubs.