jozif and his amazing technicolour lifestyle
jozif is a DJ/producer who’s in high demand at present, travelling the globe to play various gigs on a weekly basis, while also making the most of his spare time in his studio producing music that has a real off-kilter feel to it. Preferring to perform many of his tracks ‘live’, that is without programming everything into his computer, jozif’s music has a real organic sound and it’s great as well.
This year he’s been a resident at We Love at Space in Ibiza, quite an honour considering the night’s reputation. Being quite a busy man (just ask his girlfriend!), I was lucky enough to catch jozif off the back of his summer season at We Love for an extended chat recently.
Here’s part of the interview – the rest of which you can find on my own website marcusbarnes.com.
So how’s everything with you?
Everything’s good, I’m just running around – trying to spin plates, trying to juggle touring, my production stuff and trying to keep my private life together which is going down the fucking tube. Another girlfriend going: “You must think I’m stupid! Wait a minute, I’m staying at home while you’re flying around the world!” [laughs].
But they know what they’re getting into!
Well, it’s funny you should say that because I actually had a barney with her yesterday about something or other and I said to her: “When you met me, you knew what I did for a living. It’s not a massive shock, you knew from the first day you met me – you met me in a fucking nightclub!”. The alarm bells should’ve been ringing from the off. Yeah but everything’s cool, I’m doing this mix CD at the moment [which we can't name], well trying to do it anyway. It’s so tricky because there’s so many good records around, plus it’s not going to be out for quite a while so I don’t wanna put anything on it yet because it’ll be old by the time it’s released.
When’s it coming out?
Around November time. I’m quite surprised they asked me if I’m brutally honest, I was a little bit hesitant to do it because I was like: “I dunno if I’m at the right place to do a compilation mix at the moment”. Particularly something like the one I’m doing that has such a good reputation, it’s not that it’s scary but…
Yeah one of those things where it automatically elevates you to a position that you might not necessarily be comfortable with.
That’s it! Exactly! I was like: “It’s all good I’m touring and lots of people know my name and blah, blah, blah but is it time for a *censored* CD? Am I at that stage yet?”
It’s almost like a going from a boy to a man, like an initiation.
An initiation yeah! So I’ve been doing that and I’ve got another new EP out on Culprit.
Standard Rising? I really like it, it kind of follows on from Lady B in way, it’s got a real live feel to it.
Yeah well I programme a lot of stuff by literally just playing it, so there’s not a lot of automation. Particularly with the drums, I just sit down and hit the keys, also with the guitars and strings – I just play it on the keyboard, so that’s why sometimes it sounds a little bit out. I’ve had people come back to me and be like, ‘jozif I love your music, but it’s a fucking bastard to mix!”. Because the drums are synchopated, it sounds a bit flippy, floppy but I like the idea of hitting the keys and playing live-ish. The Guitar Player track was gonna be the lead track, I wrote it about a year and a half ago, it was intended to be a club banger with a big breakdown. It didn’t take me long to write, I think I did it on the train. I played it at Sonar when I was playing with Andrei (from Droog) at the Culprit rooftop party, and he wanted to sign it right away and asked me to write an EP.
Over the course of that year I wrote the other tracks and we were deciding when to bring it out, so I said: “Let’s bring it out after I come to LA”. On my way to LA, I wanted to write a record especially for that party to play on the rooftop, it’s such an amazing location so I wrote this really gay, summery record and called it Standard Rising. I played it just before the sun went down and before I played it, I told Andrei: “I’ve written something for you.” I played it, and we were all pretty high and pretty pissed by this point, but he was literally crying his eyes out and he was like: “Right, that’s gotta be on the EP!”. So everything changed, the artwork, the tracklisting, Guitar Player ended up being bottom of the list.
It’s funny how things work out like that.
Yeah, I’m always thinking about writing an album and I’ve got a huge collection of music DVDs and it’s so interesting to see how people’s albums take shape and work out. You can be working on something and one thing could happen, a phone conversation or whatever and everything changes. That’s what I like about music, there’s not set formula, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Some people can sit on a laptop on a train with a copy of Ableton and write a fucking killer tune. All the purists will be like, “Oh, it’s laptop music” but it’s like, if it’s a good tune, it’s a good tune, it doesn’t matter how you make it. You could be in a millionaire dollar studio in a bunker in LA or on a laptop on the train to Stoke!
I wonder if you could find inspiration in Stoke?
It’s funny because I brought out a track on Dame Music with my friend Bloody Mary and it was called Stcoke and there reason I called it that was because I was on the way to Manchester and the train got stuck at Stoke, so in my laptop I called the file Stcoke.
Have you ever been there?
No I haven’t, maybe I should go as some kind of pilgrimage.
You could present your tune to the mayor of Stoke!
Imagine! The villagers would be like, “Who the fuck are you?!”
You could be like, “Behold I have come from London to present you with this music!”. Where are from anyway?
Originally High Wycombe, but I’ve lived in east London for ages. I lived in Bristol for a while too, it’s funny because I used to play with Dan Pearce (Eats Everything) and Amos Nelson, who’s one half of Waifs & Strays about 10 or 15 years ago now. I was playing US garage in one room and they were playing hard house in the other.
It’s funny how far you’ve all come so far since then.
The thing is, particularly with Dan, he’s always been a good DJ but his meteoric rise is a good example of being able to write ‘that tune’. There’s no doubt that Dan’s a great DJ, but it sometimes happens that there are some people that write a good tune or two, go on tour and they’re not actually a good DJ. Dan’s a good example of going from almost nothing to being the best since electricity, which is cool because he’s a fucking dude. His Essential Mix last year was great, full on smashing it with loads of his own edits.
You’re quite similar in a way aren’t you, because you’ve got a big stock of your own stuff that no one else has..
Yeah somebody said that last night. One of the good things of being able to write your own records or do your own edits is that you always have these battle weapons that no one else has. There’s probably about two or three records of mine that I play maybe every show or every other show, that I’ll never put out, but it works on the dancefloor. It’s a great thing to have those tools. It’s like back in the day, I remember seeing Sasha at the Bomb in Nottingham once and watching him play for two hours, and every single tune he was playing was on a test press or a dub plate. Afterwards, I was battered and I got talking to him and asked him how he knows the name of everything, and he said they were all his own re-edits and stuff. This was like 1997 – fucking crazy!
It’s important to be able to do that, especially now with how easy it is to get hold of music. You can be anyone and string a load of ‘big tunes’ together really.
Yeah, there’s that and there’s the technological advances too – it’s made it easier for people who aren’t technologically trained to go into a nightclub and perform to a certain level. I was away somewhere recently with Craig Richards and the guy before us was playing with Traktor and he had one of the controllers for it. I stood there and found it really really odd… it just looked boring. I’m not bothered if you don’t mix, but he was just stood there not doing anything, he might as well have been at home playing a CD! He twiddled a knob here and there, he didn’t even look like he was enjoying it.
Standard Rising is out now, for more information on jozif, visit his Facebook page HERE.Tagged in: Culprit, jozif, Standard Rising
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter