Hi Joseph, hope you're well. How are you doing?
Not bad considering, just working on a track ATM. Hoping the world can begin to take some steps back towards to normality soon, thoughts going out to all front line staff around the world, you are all fucking heroes. My brother is frontline NHS so the fight is very close to home.
How are you feeling about the release of your debut album, Battle? How did it come to be released on Nite Grooves?
It felt really cathartic to put out my debut album, as my life had been very tumultuous through the creation of it. I just sent it to Rich there and he thankfully he liked it - was cool as I have been buying Nite Grooves and King Street Records for 10 years now.
The atmospheric sound of this record is an elaboration on your wide-ranging discography, continuing to explore the emotive side of house. Was the production process much different from your other work, for example your recent darkside jungle release under the Bluematter moniker?
Yes and no.
Yes, as apart from ‘Caught A Glimpse Now It Haunts Me’ the LP is mainly house and around 30-40bpm slower. Also yes because I began this album three years ago and preferred techniques have evolved since then. I was heavy into using samples around that time, going through my DJ Shadow phase. Those days are behind me now for the most part! Not that jungle doesn’t use a lot of samples, however we (Bluematter is a collab project with Thomas Ragsdale) write all the music for it.
No, as both the album and Bluematter stuff are created from the same emotional palette. Production-wise, there are considerable similarities in the processing and textural layering across this album and I guess most of my work - Bluematter, Jozef K or this new project of mine upcoming, Violet Mist. Which I suppose is to be expected, I never intend for them to be completely isolated.
You've mentioned that your forthcoming releases will sound more familiarly futuristic and post-apocalyptic, is there any more you can tell us about them at this stage? I'm wondering whether recent events have fed into your end-of-days fantasies much…
Yeah I’m heavily into the whole blade-runner broken future vibe aesthetic at the moment, I was into it already before the virus outbreak and now it’s put me into overdrive. Also, how spooky is this track name, made last year, on an EP called Planet Doom?
What I can say about future work is that there will be further exploration into this dystopian aesthetic for sure, whether it is house, jungle or whatever. I like how it is more a of textural quality than melodic and therefore more to do with the soundscape and the processing than the parts themselves. Due to this, the dystopian future aesthetic can lend itself to whichever style quite easily. Though I am slightly cautious of an influx of music being written in this style in the coming months, will keep my ears out for it and switch up if needed. If I hear a tech house track with a wind and rain texture at the start, that will be my cue to move on.
The dystopian urbanism of post-industrial Manchester laid the mythic foundations for a lot of British subculture, particularly Joy Division who you've mentioned a couple of times, and the closing track of the album is a tribute to your home city. Has your perspective on the city changed having travelled and held residencies abroad (notably Ibiza), and has the environment itself changed?
Citing Joy Division and being from Manchester, I’m so original. Who’d have thought it? Travelling has strengthened my positive perspective of Manchester; I have been fortunate to play in various cities around the world, over the years, but my heart will always be in MCR and my love of the city is a visceral one. I love Ibiza for many reasons (who doesn’t) but it’s not me 100%, I need some grit, you are never going to get a place like White Hotel in Playa D’en Bossa, do you know what I mean?
In terms of the environment, musically and creatively, Manchester has always been forward thinking and innovative, I suppose that goes without saying by now. I think how much it rains must have something to do with it. People are indoors escaping the elements a lot. I only realized how small the centre actually is after visiting supercities like New York and Shanghai. In SH for example, taking a 20 minute Subway from The Bund (centre) still results in walking out to more skyscrapers, whereas Manc has Market Street! That said, there are a fucking lot of buildings currently in construction, aren’t there?
You've also toured extensively in China—what is your impression of the electronic music scene there?
Currently the electronic music scene is in its formative state, so it’s got a really fresh, vibrant energy. In cities like Shenzhen & Chongqing it is super new and really cool to see it rising there. I distinctly remember in CQ seeing a handful of people dancing to house for the first time during my set and it was beautiful. Shanghai and Beijing are a little further advanced in their electronic music development and these are my favourite 2 cities to play in, I feel a bit like a fly on the wall getting to watch it grow and it’s cool! P.S. I have noticed acid often seems to evoke a positive response, across China!
Has your approach to DJing changed at all since your illuminating How I Play?
I just watched it back for a reference and it hasn't really, I think I will take those fundamentals with me now, I still do a lot of those things in terms of the set preparation and audience interpretation. I was drunk on the last bit, that bit about the snares and rims is well cringing!
Any upcoming announcements our readers can know about?
When the virus eventually calms down enough, I am going to go and play some shows in Japan, which is my personal light through the tunnel. Also, just signed a Bluematter album - can’t say who too just yet.
The next release is on Lossless, home to Trikk, Mathias Schober and Thomas Herb, who are all amazing producers so I am really happy to be doing a record with those guys - Mathias does mix downs for Dixon and the Innervisions guys, so it is a true honour! I was having to take extra care with the final versions of these ones as I knew they’d be under the microscope!
Apart from that, I have releases on Lost City Archives and Vault Wax. And, I have an EP signed to the biggest label yet which I am excited about, though I am under strict orders to keep quiet over! My new side project, Violet Mist, debuts with an album next month on Disintegration State.
Any artists, crews, or other things that you’re particularly feeling at the moment?
What I am really feeling at the minute is ambient, atmospheric, dreamy techno, especially their mixdowns, for the producers out there, how sick is this? Complex, subtle and detailed, I love it.
This sound has really been inspiring my studio approach currently, I made a playlist containing more of this type of stuff which you can check here:
I heard Vril's album - Anima Mundi for the first time a couple of months back (late to the party, it came out in 2018!) and it really floored me, the melodies, the textures and the depth. This is what caused me to delve deeper into the field and outside of the bigger names of the genre, like Vril, Dozzy, Neel and co. Also noticed some dystopian aesthetic across these discoveries, for good measure.
Other mentions, rapid fire, in current, heavy, recent rotation, here goes!
Nabihah Iqbal’s NTS show, Tom Ravenscroft on R6 (taking Mary Ann Hobbs is a given). Skee Mask always kills it (Compro album… damn!), Barrington Levy - Shaolin Temple, (Roland echo space!!) Western Lore always sweet for jungle, Kim Ann Foxman’s new one Blood Moon, HTRK (forever listening to these, caught them in White Hotel, November, sick), New one on UTTU by Nemo Vachez, and the DJ Haus collab with Jensen Interceptor (also UTTU). Beyun - The Rains Shall Pass is some killer, moody acid, Tin Man’s new remix of Aurora Centralis - 747, is some lovely sci-fi acidness too. Also really into Interplanetary Criminal for some slick garage, their production is real nice, don’t find enough reverb on UKG! New retro house tune from Chrissy - So I Go Dancin (Ft. Carrie Wilds). And just head this one on Phonica I was digging by Earth Trax & Newborn JR - Feel I have to mention Big L as I am just addicted to listening to him, in my most played Spotify 2019 playlist he made 3 of the top 5! I had no idea he would feature before either! Also heard this the other day and LOVED it - Ojerime - Give It Up 2 Me, feels like a more melancholic version of Erykah Badu.
I’m keen on the data these days aren’t I? Too many late night reddit threads…