“Maybe one day I shall create with a more channelled focus, but if I like a broad range of styles, why not produce records in the same way?” asks Jozef K.
It’s an idea very few producers can confidently pull off. But the rising UK artist does it with panache. Having released on labels ranging from VIVa Music to Acid Test, he’s earned praise from Ibiza veterans like Steve Lawler (whose VIVa label he’s also released on) to touted selectors like DJ Nobu, proving his flexibility and versatility in the studio is beyond reproach. And soon he'll have releases on Sasha's Last Night On Earth, DJ Pierre's Afro Acid, Music For Freaks, Waze & Odyssey's Street Tracks and Balkan/I Love Acid.
Though if you asked 19-year-old Jozef if he saw himself spending his hours locked in his studio, the answer would have been a resounding “no.”
Back then, he was the youngest resident at Sankeys Manchester, playing to packed crowds week after week. Once that club closed, however, Jozef realized it was time to stand on his own. He started producing, and now Pete Tong regularly supports his tracks the BBC, as has fellow Radio 1 star B.Traits. He also released an acid house sample pack for Loopmasters, which you can check out here.
He still DJs of course, playing across China, America, Indonesia, across Europe including Ibiza. And he’s a regular in the UK too, proudly calling today’s scene “fucking mega” despite bad headlines.
We talk about all that, production tips and much more, and and he provides a gleeful mix of classic house, techno and acid. Enjoy.
What have you been up to lately?
Studio time and recently went wild swimming in the Lake District, that was cool.
Where and when was the mix recorded?
In my studio, just this now as I type this at 2.39am 04/09/18.
What was the idea behind the mix?
I find it futile to explain the ideas behind my work and art in general; someone that understands would regardless. Those that don’t understand won’t benefit from an explanation and I feel it detracts from the vision once explained.
I like this notion—this is something I came to understand in the past year.
You recently released your Acid Sunrise Dreams sample pack on Loopmasters. How long did it take you to put together, and how has the reaction been so far?
Two to three months. I enjoy having the the finished product and I am proud of the work, but I am not used to working creatively under someone else’s clock, found it really hard.
There was quite a bit of back and forth between myself and the LM guys (Love ya Paul) but we got there in the end.
Reaction has been great thankfully, I broadcast a studio day creating a track using loops and samples from the pack and received a lot of support and messages which was really nice.
You have a deep love of acid. When did you first discover it, and who were your early inspirations?
I had this record when I was 15, only learning years later what that squelching bassline was:
So it’s always been around for me, whether I knew it or not.
A track that really struck me was this one:
I was used to the typical party style of acid, say Armando type flavours (who was one of my earliest inspirations). However I had never really explored acid under this more introspective, melancholic approach. And I really liked it. It transpired that I eventually released a record on the same label, Acid Test in collaboration with Tin Man and also my good friend and longtime collaborator Winter Son (who currently releases brooding electronica under his own name, Thomas Ragsdale).
I remember first using a 303 clone and finding it super difficult to use. Now I use the ABL3 plugin in Ableton and I love it. Posthuman, a pillar of the acid community (I coined that phrase) gave me some parameter settings that I have found to be amazing coupled with some distortion effects. It is funny as I feel the ABL3 has a slightly uncool/bad reputation however I know that a lot of the acid guys use it and everyone presumes it to be the original Roland. I personally don’t mind if people know I use it or not.
How long have you been producing? And what’s your most valued piece of kit?
Depends how you want to look at it. I shall let the reader decide from the facts. I did a sound technology degree from age 18-20. I started writing solo stuff in summer 2016, despite working with engineers prior to this and spending a lot of time in the studio working on collaborations, with Winter Son for example, I never had the skill set to put a record down that would be signing quality.
One day I felt like a phony for not being able to, so I thought I’d better learn to do my own records. And fortunately it did come relatively easy, without sounding an ass, but I’d had a 9-10 good years of preparation through my degree and working with some great people learning their techniques. Don’t get me wrong there were some serious Ableton headaches along the way, like the fucking orange automation box, I think all producers went through that one.
And also I guess from the first time you immerse yourself in music you are developing your sound and that was 13-14. I was really into hip hop.
Probably the most boring answer here but it is the truth so I am just going to say it, this MacBook I am using right now is the most valued piece of kit it has my entire life on here. It scares me a little.
You were a resident at just 19-years-old at Sankeys in Manchester. What was your reaction when you found the club was being forced shut due to property development?
There were two reactions here, one from a human perspective and also from my own artistic standpoint. As a human it was heartbreaking to see another legendary Manchester club had been sold for property development; the exact same scenario as a had happened to the infamous Hacienda.
As an artist it was a wake up call. I was used to playing to 1000-plus people every week with my residency. And then it closed and I was like ‘ah shit it is time to stand on my own two feet’. It must have been at least part way a catalyst for immersing myself into the production as much as I have in the last two years.
I felt I had lost an edge from what I was about musically from the residency, which occasionally can happen for an artist, so that was a benefit in that I am now able to express myself musically completely as I’d like to… and if it was still open, maybe I would still be on those lineups I don’t quite see myself on and maybe not so far into the production, and development of my own personal sound. Though it would never be known for sure - everything happens for a reason. Feeling really positive about everything currently, things seem to be moving forward in the right direction.
I am playing for them at the end of this month in London for the first time in a while and I am looking forward to it. Every once in a while suits me fine.
Do you have any thoughts on the UK’s current club scene?
It’s fucking mega. All major cities and some towns seem to be flourishing at the moment and long may it continue. I know there have been many unfortunate club closures over the past few years and this is obviously saddening, however I am feeling a lot of positivity of late in the UK and trying to emit that energy back into the cosmos.
Are you happier in the studio or behind the decks?
I was always 100% DJ focused however I am growing more and more reclusive as the days go by, sometimes I leave the studio after a long session and I hate having to talk to people.
So in response, probably behind the decks, but ask me again in 10 years.
You’ve got a release coming out on Sasha’s Last Night On Earth imprint. What can you tell us about that?
Musically I feel the EP is quite ethereal and emotional, which is something I try and include into all my records. Often I find that I trying to create something within a dream state.
Doing a record with a label of this stature makes me really happy also, I did a collaboration on LNOE five years ago with Winter Son so now to be back on with something I created my own self feels extra special.
Sasha is a household name, global DJ icon, was once labelled by a journalist as the ‘Son of God’ and furthermore an absolute gent (also I feel we must appreciate his musical evolution over a 30 year career, from pioneering harmonic mixing to live orchestral performances at the Barbican). So it is great and humbling to have a man of that calibre digging and releasing my work.
I was gleefully excited by this Twitter exchange.
Somewhat childish as I am 29, but even my Mum has heard of Sasha.
What’s next for you?
Releases with DJ Pierre, Waze & Odyssey, Sasha, Music For Freaks and in talks with many other labels also. 2019 is going to be easily my biggest for releases.
Just recently, I have finally confirmed my first all night set, which is something I have always wanted to do, so I am super looking forward to that. Hoping this is the first of many, so will put maximum effort into preparation. This is a funny aspect of the industry, in that just because you yourself want something to happen it makes no odds to air it. It could even go against you, as ultimately, it is someone else’s decision. Better to keep quiet, work hard and let things come to you. It is pretty cool really, I like that idea and it is a great lesson to learn.
I guess it might be an idea to hone in on a sound that people recognise as mine at some point, as up to now I have released across the spectrum… from VIVa Music to Acid Test. Looking at my unreleased work there are deep techno tracks, (which have been played by the likes of DJ Nobu) alongside pop-driven acid party cuts. Maybe one day I shall create with a more channelled focus, but if I like a broad range of styles, why not produce records in the same way?
But ultimately what is next is to continue writing the most honest music I can. I have reached a place where I have to keep writing and keep expressing myself, for no other purpose than the music itself. It is a cathartic release but also a need.
N.A.D - Distant Drums
Nicholas ft. Nikki O - Black Sugar
Janeret - Contrast
Tora Vinter ft. Veraluz - Morgiana
Levon Vincent - Dec01 Side-B
Ultraworld - Northern Piano (Hardcore Piano Mix)
Kim English - Nitelife (The Armand Van Helden Remix)
Lidell Townsell - I’ll Make You Dance
Mike Simonetti - Release Your Body To The Best
Psychadelic Research Lab - Keep On Climbin’ (Deetron Remix)
Bloody Mary - Mono
Locked Groove ft. Innershades - The Gate
Ben Gibson - Zona
Worriedaboutsatan - Who Is A Hunter?
Jozef K - Stream Of Arpsciousness
Jozef K - dreamyravetrack.738876 (no acid version)
ROM 3Ø3 - Villa Scapone