Whether you’re being blinded by your own sweat in class or having your butt lovingly kicked by your PT, the Gymbox vibe is all about keeping those inspo levels high. The beats in the background are a big part of the experience – and DJs like Jules take their role in that pretty seriously. Kat caught up with her to find out more about what goes into compiling a killer playlist – and the secret to keeping you smiling through the pain…
Jules, how did you get into DJing?
It’s weird, I didn’t actually decide “I’m going to become a DJ,” but I was at a point between jobs, feeling a bit low, and I wanted to do something that I enjoyed. So I started DJing, just as a hobby. I went and did a DJ course and tinkered around with it for a while. That’s how I officially got started in it! But my love for music has always been there, and I’ve always loved sharing music! I was always the one back at school to bring the new CD in and share music
How old were you when you started DJing?
It was quite late in the day…I was 30! And I’ve been DJing now for five years. The reason why I left it so late is because I felt shy. The thought of DJing and being in front of people put me off. But like I said, I got into it as a hobby so I was like “I kind of like this, I should try it out.” I’m still in the early stages, but I do it full time now.
And you’re a visual artist as well?
Yes, I do digital art. I sketch out my ideas first, then I go over it with a programme, Illustrator. I’m in the early stages of that as well, trying to sell stuff online. I need to get myself out there, and hopefully do an exhibition next year to get the name out. It’s good, because art and music absolutely go hand-in-hand.
When did you start working for Gymbox?
I started at Gymbox in March of this year, it’s gone by so quick! You can find me at Bank on Mondays and Stratford on Wednesdays. When I’m there, I’m thinking more about the energy and the tempo. I have quite an eclectic taste, I get bored of one genre! If it’s a house track, it’s generally going to work, but you don’t want it to get too monotonous, so I like to bring in some hip-hop, but it has to be hip-hop that’s very up-tempo. I just try to mix it up really, but I make sure the energy is correct.
What are the main differences between DJing at Gymbox and a club? It seems like it can be hard work keeping that pace and tempo up for people working out, whereas in a club there’s more chance to ease up.
Yeah, I think that’s definitely the case. You’re conscious of people working out. It provides a different challenge than DJing in a bar or club.
With DJing in a gym, you’re trying to keep the energy up. But then at the same time, you’re trying to make sure it’s not too monotonous. There’s a degree of “I want to keep the energy high, but the music varied and interesting,” so that’s the challenge.
Also, because you’re not in a club, there’s not much feedback from the people who are working out. They’re there to work out…although you do see some people bobbing their heads and people clearly running to your beat, which is nice! I’m like “okay I’m not going to mess this up for you!” [laughs]
It is definitely a challenge in that way, trying to assist people in their workout and motivate them. There’s a different kind of pressure.
What’s been your proudest moment as a DJ so far?
I think my absolute proudest moment was the first time I DJed in front of people. I had learnt how to DJ maybe a year prior to DJing publicly for the first time.I remember being really, really nervous, and I said to myself “if you’re rubbish, and you don’t enjoy it, you’re never doing it again!” [laughs] But I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed it.
It was a big step for me, as I’m a little on the shy side, to be in front of people and DJing. That really was like a “…wow!” moment. People coming up to me and saying they really liked the music…that was my proudest moment.
Do you feel like DJing has helped improve your confidence?
Definitely. I found that DJing wasn’t as daunting as I was expecting - I mean, people in the crowd should be happy and having a good time, and not staring at me! [laughs] It’s different to being a singer or entertainer in that way.
That fear [of being in front of people] was eliminated, because people weren’t necessarily fixated on or watching me. So DJing has boosted my confidence, it’s been really good for that.
What genre or artists do you like that people wouldn’t expect you to?
I love disco! I love it.
[Laughs] People don’t usually talk about disco that much.
I do! I talk about it all the time. I love it! You don’t want to speak about it? I’ll speak about it [laughs] Disco, 80’s rare groove, that kind of stuff. I absolutely love it!
In terms of a guilty pleasures…I like what I like. I never fully eliminate a genre or artist. I mean there are some Britney Spears songs that I happen to like! ‘Crazy’ is one of my favourite tunes! And Backstreet Boys!
What are your current goals as a DJ?
I definitely want to grow as a DJ. I’ve still got so much I want to learn and improve on. I think that’s the most immediate thing, working on my technique and always improving.
In terms of career direction, I definitely want to play bigger arenas. I’d love to do a festival and more corporate events. And more events and festivals where people come for a specific sound. It’s nice sometimes to channel my music down into a specific niche or genre: like, do a house rave, where people are coming for that, to party hard.
I definitely want to increase the party side of things, and producing. I’m putting it out there now, so I have to follow through [laughs]. I’d definitely like to start making some music as well.
What would be one of your dream venues to play?
I started this as a hobby, I’m just doing what I love, so it’s never been like “I have to be at Glastonbury,” or at another place. I mean, Glastonbury would be cool, but it’s something where if it never happened…I wouldn’t really mind?!
I think I would be just as happy playing in an underground club in Bali or something…that could end up being the best gig of my life. I don’t think there’s a specific place that’s a goal, it’s just making sure I’m having as much fun as possible, and that people are having fun too.
It’s the journey and the process for me, there’s no Madison Square Gardens. It’s just about having fun, meeting people who love my style and music, and having that moment together, wherever that may be.
What is your favourite thing about being a DJ?
My favourite thing about being a DJ is listening to loads of music. Before becoming a DJ, I used to think to myself “how can I get a job where I get to listen to loads of music?” Obviously there’s the technical side to actually DJing, but in practicing for it there’s so much music I have to go through, and I love it! There’s so many times where I fall asleep listening to music. [laughs] I just love music, I think that’s my favourite part.
And I do love being out DJing, seeing people enjoying themselves. That definitely feeds my set, when you’re seeing people enjoying it. It helps you direct the whole experience.
What’s your favourite thing about DJing at Gymbox?
I like the fact there’s freedom. There are guidelines, but they’re quite loose, so I like to experiment, try out remixes and play around with some songs. It’s fun in that way, I don’t feel too restricted. I feel like I’m free enough to play different stuff.
I like the challenge as well. I’m there on a weekly basis, so I have to think “okay, how do I make this fresh.” Obviously you’re acquiring new music each week, but it is a challenge to keep sets from being predictable and keeping them fresh.