Julie James, Wales’ new Minister of Climate Change, has an extensive political resume, including stints as an environmental and constitutional lawyer, an appointment as Wales’ Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology and also the Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee’s Common Fisheries Policy Task and Finish Group. However, the Welsh politician has another claim to fame: Sister of the extremely private electronic music legend Aphex Twin.
Early in an interview with BBC’s Walescast, the question about James’ siblings came up, with the Minister for Climate Change admitting that her brother is the Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, or as the Walescast reporter calls him, “the Mozart of techno.” Although significantly older than her younger siblings, Julie James said the children grew up in a musical household where her parents encouraged them to dance.
Asked whether she’s a fan of her brother’s trailblazing and often difficult music, James said, “Very much. Not all of it. Some of it, I think [Black Mirror creator] Charlie Brooker once said, it was like being inside a CT scanner for an hour. But some of it is glorious. He writes beautiful jazz. He did a collaboration with Philip Glass, which is glorious, and a lot of his ambient stuff is lovely to listen to.”
James was asked about her personal favorite in her brother’s impossibly large catalog — she chose his “Analog Bubblebath 2,” a.k.a. “Digeridoo” — and added that Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th,” the Drukqs song heavily borrowed by Kanye West on “Blame Game,” was played at their father’s funeral.
The climate change minister also shared an anecdote about when former Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones stepped down in December 2018, members of the Welsh government each gifted him a vinyl record. James gave Jones a copy of Aphex Twin’s then-new EP Collapse.
However, don’t expect Aphex Twin to hit the stage at campaign rallies if James’ political aspirations amplify. “I can’t get him to do a gig,” she admitted.