Joeski is no stranger to the music industry. He’s got a huge history of almost 30 years in the scene, breaking into the New York scene back in 1991 with the founding of The Chocolate Factory DJ collective.
After exploding in popularity in the club scene, Joeski embarked on a new adventure, creating his record label Maya Records in 2001. While his label has been wildly successful over the last 17 years, he returned back to the studio to get back to what the scene loves and knows him for: cranking out dance music hits you can’t help but hope to hear in the club.
Joeski sat down to talk about his growth and upbringing in New York and how it’s influenced his sound as an artist as he embarks on his tour this April and May.
You’ve cited the freestyle and hip-hop era of NYC as having a big influence on your sound, but also your Latin background has had a large impact too. Would you say they go hand in hand? How would you say your sound has evolved with New York City, if at all?
Sure, the hip-hop and freestyle scene in NYC was a big influence on me in general coming up in the music scene. A lot of the clubs I would go to and play at were either doing that at the time or just coming out of that in to house music. But Latin music has really been a huge influence on me.
I have memories of my mom blaring salsa music and cleaning the house and that has really had a huge impact on me. I noticed that musically when I get into the studio that it’s almost like instinct—a lot of the melodies I create are really heavily Latin-influenced. It’s a lot of percussive stuff that was definitely pulled from the ’80s and ’90s in New York where it was huge then.
Do you have a specific neighborhood you call home? Favorite borough?
Born in Brooklyn, live in Queens, but I actually call them both home.
Where are your go to hangouts? Any favorite nightclubs to play? Nightclubs to attend?
I pretty much keep it Brooklyn. It’s really close to where I live, all of the venues in Brooklyn and stuff. Nowadays I rarely go out because I am a huge workaholic and spend most of my time in the studio, but when I do go out it’s definitely in Brooklyn. Sometimes I feel like I need to take a step back to get inspired, and a lot of the times I love to hear live music so when I get that urge I totally do that.
I have a residency now at Stereobar in Montreal that is definitely one of my favorite rooms to play. The sound is incredible and it keeps the vibe on point.
Can you tell us some of your favorite memories from New York?
I miss New York—the old New York. No diss to what’s happening now, but New York definitely lost a lot of its flavor. I remember I used to walk around downtown and run into so many colorful people in the streets in Manhattan. Brooklyn has taken over with artist community parts, what the Lower East Side used to be like, and it is a really cool and interesting change to see. New York is always changing, and that’s what I love about it
But back in the day, I would always have fond memories of being able to go downtown and see amazing art and really get influenced and inspired by that.
You have two EPs coming up. Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect? What was the process like making them?
I actually have three really great EPs coming up.
Life Changes is a concept I had as a follow-up to the last release I had on Relief called Acid Disco. This follow-up to this is really more of a tech-y edge, more analog sounds and a little darker which is in contrast to the Acid Disco release that was more soulful.
My release for Snatch is for sure funkier house music. I was super inspired by a gospel church setting where everyone is just interacting and singing. I even sampled some really great stuff to capture this.
I don’t really have a specific process for producing, but I get ideas in my head and really go with it, much like this release where I wanted to capture an energy of a specific space. I mean, I really loved this idea of everyone interacting, dancing, singing, and clapping. So I wanted to get this preacher really mustering up this energy in a space and get it on a record.
My third project is I AM featuring De-No which will be on Maya—another interactive experience with spoken word written by the vocalist. I love poetry and spoken word where there is really a message to send. It’s definitely the same kind of concept as Snatch, where it is interactive in a way. But it’s certainly more dark. It’s really powerful, and the words are incredibly powerful. I think that vocals in general are super powerful and I’m inspired by that in a lot of my music. Again, sending a message.
Have you had a favorite remix or artist to work with? Any dream people you’re still looking to team up with?
Lately I’ve been really feeling live instrumentation in terms of collaborations. Latin jazz artists that play live are totally on my radar. Have a project that I’m working on where I’m going to fly to Colombia and record a group of musicians who do this beautiful folkloric Caribbean music—it’s amazing.
How do you discover new music?
Beatport and Traxsource are good tools.
I get sent a lot of promotional material that is really good too, and it’s nice because I get to see what is out there. But lately, for the most part, I’ve been really playing my own productions when I gig.
What’s in store for 2018?
To keep consistently creating music.
Pizza or bagels? Pizza, for sure.
Rooftop or backyard? Rooftop.
Uptown or downtown? Downtown, 100%.
House or techno? Both, house and techno, always both.
Want to catch Joeski live? He’s on tour through May.