Occupation: DJ, Producer
Current Release: Life Changes on Relief
Recommendations: Dali is one of my favorites – check out anything he has done.
Grupo Niche – “Sin Sentimientos” – this was always playing in my house growing up.
Website / Contact: If you enjoyed this interview with Joeski, do visit his facebook profile for more information, news and fresh sounds.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started DJing in 88 – professionally in 91. Where do I begin – Mood to Swing, Danny Tenaglia, Louie Vega, Kerri Chandler, Tony Humphries were huge inspirations to me. Seeing Louie Vega completely annihilate Sound Factory Bar inspired me – with all genres of house music – tribal and deeper stuff. So many on the dance floor with me drew me into always wanting to play music.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
There were people that inspired me that influenced my sound. Every musician gets something from others and interprets it in their own voice. You take from your influences and make it your own. I grew up in a Colombian household with my mom blasting salsa music cleaning the house so musically that was the biggest influence in finding my sound.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
At the end of the day – I just wanted to be heard. Money was never the objective – so playing Limelight and Tunnel were some of the beginning goals – to play no matter what. The competition has always been challenging and nowadays even more so.
The only reason I started producing was to keep DJing cause even back then – producers were getting booked over someone who can only DJ. The interaction with the crowd is what makes it interesting. Most of my records are created with the dance floor in mind.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
In my opinion – a DJ’s job is to rock the dance floor. Whoever is in front of you – you have to read the crowd.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first DJ set up was two Gemini turntables and the Realistic DJ mixer. I couldn’t afford 1200s at 16 years old so as my career progressed I upgraded to a proper set-up. Currently the most important pieces are a Pioneer DJM-900 NXS2 and 3x Pioneer CDJ- 2000 NXS2.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Technology has made everything easier for us and I embraced it. I can move more efficiently (USB vs 50 lb record bags). Music selection and programming is super important – anyone can sync two records these days.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Wake up at 8AM. Go into the studio to check emails and take care of business and then get it cracking. All day, every day. For me – life and creativity are all one. Music is always on my mind so there is no separation between life and creativity.
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
Lately I’ve been playing a lot of my material because everyone has access to music these days. So the only way to play music no one has is to make it. I don’t pre-plan my sets – they unfold naturally as they are happening.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I just go in there and do my thing. I like it to be spontaneous.
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
I love it to unfold naturally. Music is a feeling – it can’t be pre-planned or put into an equation.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
Yes – it should be improvised, happen in the moment. The best part of hearing a band is when they are just jamming – nothing written. That is when the magic happens.
How do playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
There is no comparison to playing on a sound system with a crowd in front of you. When I play at home, I’m usually working through my new productions or making a podcast.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
My only goal is to move the crowd. I feed off the energy of the people – I see what they are reacting to and move in that direction. It’s been 27 years plus so I’ve had my share of different crowds to read.
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
When there is no one left to dance. When I used to close the Roxy every Friday at Together – they would always turn the lights on 30 minutes before closing and those were the most memorable times – people’s eyes closed singing the songs they knew. Magic.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
To be honest - I hate to label what art is. Art is an expression of who you are.