You’ve heard of Aphex Twin, but what about the Aphex sister? Julie James, elder sibling of the electronic music legend born Richard James, has been making a name for herself in politics. After a three-year run as Minister for Housing and Local Government in Wales, she’s now that UK country’s first-ever Minister for Climate Change.
James spoke about her life, her goals in office, and her famous brother in an interview with the BBC’s Walescast podcast. On the professional front, she said Wales needed to do twice as much to address climate change in the next decade “as we’ve done in the previous 30 years.” She added that the goal is for government to “put the conditions in place so that people aren’t sacrificing things in order to assist the climate.”
James, who was born 15 years before her brother Richard, also offered an insight into their upbringing. “My father had really itchy feet and never really settled to one occupation,” she said, “so about every 18 months, 20 months we would be up and off again but we always came back to Wales in between.” This is how she came to be born in Swansea, Wales, while Aphex Twin came into this world in Limerick, Ireland.
As to whether she actually enjoys listening to Aphex Twin, she said, “Very much. Not all of it. Some of it’s, I think 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.”
She seems to feel a great deal of pride towards her brother. When Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones stood down in 2018, his colleagues gave him parting gifts of vinyl. James’ choice was Aphex Twin’s Collapse EP. “And I’m sure he listens to it all the time,” she said sarcastically.