Jozef K has achieved in a few years what some of us take a whole career to do. Resident DJ for global brand Sankeys, as well as being signed to a slew of record labels including Sasha’s Last Night on Earth. He is a figurehead for Manchester’s vibrant music scene who, like pioneering DJs before him, bucks the trends and chooses to unearth those rare tracks and often forgotten gems. Along with his production partner – Winter Sun, Jozef is showcasing a live 808 set and preparing an artist album. He also runs his own night in his hometown of Manchester, which is were This is Progressive caught up with him.
Hi Jozef, Thanks for finding some time to talk to us at This is Progressive, so lets go way back to the beginning. How did it all start for you?
Ever since I can remember I was obsessed with music it was just a natural thing for me, my first true love was hip hop around age 13. I started by my older brother introducing me to electronic music and generally non-mainstream type of dance orientated stuff. I was blown away, this music amazed me! He bought some decks and I used to be on them for hours a day until I decided to buy my own, I was addicted to DJing from a really young age. I had some Vestax belt drives, the torque was so slow you nearly had to take a run up to start the record playing!
I read in a recent interview, you’re a big Legowelt fan. Which other artists do you regard as your influences?
Yeah man Danny Wolfers is the top boy, everything he touches seems to turn to gold somehow, always really atmospheric and sometimes quite dark but always creates a lot of soul and texture so for me he is a massive inspiration.
But to be honest the list is endless, I am a massive music geek so it would be kind of stupid to list off a massive pile of artists that inspire me, I think what comes through in my music is an overall perception of everything I have exposed myself to. To be honest I find everything influences my music in someway whether it is music, relationships, films, books, plays just life and experience in general affects my mental processes in the studio, so the music I make is a general summation of all influences, whether musical or not.
How soon after learning to DJ did you turn to production?
2 years later. It was a natural progression.
You’re well known for your crate digging and playing of obscure records. How much time do you spend finding tunes and where do you find them?
Too much time! To be fair I love it is my favourite thing to do. When it comes to track searching I like to be really thorough with it and have all bases covered; Vinyl, digital and promo/forthcoming tracks. I like to go vinyl shopping to see what all the heads are buying and what other bits and pieces are in the shops, It’s good to keep the scene alive and it is more romantic to own wax even if I am a digital DJ primarily, I also love how passionate the people that are in them usually are :-). Though I am on Beatport everyday, this is the best way for me to keep up with exactly is going on as every track I have bought I have added to my favourite artists/labels section and there is a feature on the site that adds these to favourites; letting you know when there is a new track out by either label or artist… and I have bought over a thousand tracks since I have been on there so you can imagine how many alerts there are! However I think it’s really important to know what is going on right now. I go on Hard Wax website quite a lot for the Berlin perspective as even though it is massively cliche Berlin without is without a doubt the single major city in terms of the type of electronic music I play and create so it is very important to know what is going down over there. For some reason I don’t really use Juno that much. Clone website is fucking mint, so is Delsin, (I reckon I could easy play a set of just these two labels alone, some of their sub-labels are amazing, Steffi’s label Dolly and Clone Jack For Daze are both unreal, M>O>S as well and loads more) for the more hardware stuff especially. I am also on a few promo sites so I can also keep an eye on what is forthcoming, it is nice to get some of the bigger records before everyone else canes them, however a lot of the time if I think it is going to be big then I don’t bother playing it and it puts me off, which is just sad really, but I can’t help it, I always take them to gigs but I never end up playing them out. Tailored Communications is hands down my favourite promo site, there is a lot of amazing new music on there, big love for those guys.
But that is all based around new shit really, for the older stuff, which I probably play as much of if not more and takes up a lot more time as it is not laid out on the above platforms like new music is, I have a good few tricks on how to track down some decent what I hope to be out of the way records but I don’t really wanna give the game away as then every one will be onto the same tracks as me. Nothing worse than playing what I think is a really obscure record and about 5 people come over and name it or bring it up in the after party. Sends me under, and has happened a few times to be fair! ‘Yeah tune innit mate!’ (On the inside thinking oh for fuck’s sake!). Also I will still play classics or bigger tracks but only on purpose when I want everyone to know them, though again it doesn’t always work, for example once I played ‘DJ Shadow – Organ Donor’ and no-one knew it, first time I ever felt old (I’m 24) and a tosser at the same time!
How did the residency with Sankeys come about? Right place, right time?
Sankeys were hosting some interviews for work experience staff in the office, from there I was interviewed by David Vincent the owner on my music taste and when i said I was into Magda and Stephan Bodzin I think I was the person he was looking for! Always remember that phone call, I was in my back garden after I just came back from holiday… ‘so you are a real Tribal Sessions kinda person’ is what he said to me. From there, there was an interview stage with him and Greg Vickers and I was chosen from 200 applicants, which at the time was just craziness, feels like only yesterday! After that whilst working in the office I did a mix CD for Greg, I remember playing it when I was in the car with him and he really liked this one track ‘Manuel Tur & Dplay – Deviate’ and after positive feedback from the mix I was given a chance to play in the main room; I then became resident for Tribal Sessions and it went from there! For poetic reasons I played Deviate as the last track in my 4 hour set in the main room before it closed!!!
You and Winter Son have been production partners for a while now and are embarking on the live show scene. Hows that going and what gave you the inspiration to try it?
Fucking top couldn’t be going better, we have just finished a remix tonight! Inspiration was that we are both from completely different backgrounds musically and we thought it would make for interesting end product. We feel it comes out a certain way due to our different styles but I would rather people listen to the tracks and come to this decision themselves! I could sit here and describe it, but people could think it is not how I see it and I would just look like a conceited bell end so would much prefer people make their own minds up good or bad, it’s music from the heart so I don’t really mind what people think, though obviously I would prefer they liked it :-).
Does this mean you’ve hung up your headphones?
Hahaha have I fuck!!!! DJing is the one man, it’s more addictive than smack… not that I have tried it!!!
You and Winter Son have an amazing EP out on Sasha’s Last Night on Earth, no doubt it was a huge honour. Whats the story behind it?
Me + Winter Son putting our heads together for an EP that works on the headphones and tells a story as much as works in the club. Truly honoured to be on Sasha’s label, he is one of the most established names in dance music and I still can’t believe I actually have an E.P. on his label, it’s insane!!
Tell us about the mix you’ve kindly done for us.
It’s a dub techno mix, not something I usually play for a whole set in clubs, but more suited for headphone listening as is full of melancholy and soul crushing atmospherics, I would say that it is more designed for a sunday after a heavy weekend or an emotional period, late at a night, that type of thing. I love dub techno as the style of music tells a story and is super emotional, I feel there is a deeper message in the music and appreciate the fact everything isn’t laid out on the table for the listener, it’s not like a big house record: dance now, stand around now, wait now, go crazy now… I guess it is just more magical somehow and it lets your mind explore other galaxies. This mix starts off 105bpm and ends 115bpm, super deep.
Social media seems to be an essential part of the music industry now. How difficult do you find managing your various accounts and is there a happy medium one can strike between full exposure and some degree of anonymity?
You can spam people to death and annoy people or you can be really dry and report back your achievements, I try not to do either but I like to talk a lot as you can probably tell so I struggle, I try to limit posts to once a day and not to be all self promotion, I kinda stick to it, but also kinda don’t!
Whats the rest of 2013 have in store for you?
Got a few gigs coming up and gonna be heading to a studio in the hills for a few days for complete isolation to get the album finished, I think this will be really essential to be away from all distractions and really focus to get these last and most important stages done well.
Jozef K forthcoming gigs
15 – Fortsetzen 006, 2022NQ, Manchester
16 – Sub:Terranea, York
30 – Infiltrate, Sunderland