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Go BackCATCHING UP WITH JOESKI IN BARCELONA! - Underground hero on good old raving, music being extension of his soul, and Tatoo Sessions!

Posted: 19/11/04 11:18

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He’s been doing this for years, half his life exactly, making people dance by putting two records together. He started out rocking hip-hop and freestyle beats in his hometown of Corona, Queens. He began building his rep from sets at Manhattan clubs like Save the Robots, Limelight and NASA, and soon became a regular name on the East Coast rave scene. In the mid 90’s, he teamed up with Onionz, Frank Ryde and Sameer to form the Chocolate Factory, a DJing crew that rocked countless parties in the heyday of New York’s  underground nightlife. Now an established producer and remixer, he has earned his place as a heavy hitter in the international scene.

Joeski was in Barcelona last week to present his label’s latest project!! Although very busy in the studio, he is currently on tour to promote the release of Maya Record’s first compilation Tattoo Sessions, a very personal journey into the sound of Maya. Joeski on tour, will be doing what he likes best, moving bodies from behind the decks, spreading his sound like a house music ambassador. This is his language, his culture: an audio extension of his soul.
The party in Barcelona was a very special presentation at one of the city’s hottest lounge/clubs: Shoko. Joeski delivered a fresh and invigorating session, captivating a crowd that is used to more commercial sounds!

The Voice was in da place especially for the man and we caught up with him after the party to see what he’s been up to lately, and  ended up finding out a whole lot more about his interesting  life story and a bit of ‘dance music history’ as well!!

Place us where you were when music and djing became part of your life?
My first experiences with music, was playing the saxophone in junior high school. That’s how I kind of got into music...perhaps that’s why every track I make has a horn! Then I stopped playing and then I met on of my sister’s ex-boyfriend's in the late 80’s that was a disco DJ, not professional, he just had the most amazing record collection. I was about 15, and used to go over there to learn to use turntables. Next thing you know, I am over there everyday, it got to a point where I was annoying him, knocking on his door every day. I could hear him inside hiding from me! Then I began buying records and bringing them to his house and getting more and more into it.

I was in school but was doing this on the side, then began doing little house parties in the neighborhood where I grew up...this made me more curious about the NYC night life (late 80s),I started exploring them with my sister’s ex ! He was the first one to take me to a real club, The Tunnel, I was a little kid... I was going out a lot within the gay scene that were the best clubs at that point in New York, right after the Paradise Garage closed. I started meeting people within that and still doing little house parties.

When did you begin making a living out of music?
I got hooked up in the clubs, started playing more clubs, one of the first ones I did was an after-hours called UFO that was my first club session, I had just turned 17. It went over very well and led me to get a residency at a gay party at Wunder Bar, which in turn led me to my own night at Limelight, I had Thursdays there as my residency, on the main floor!! Within that I started doing the rave scene... This scene blew me up to the US, cause I was resident at Nasa, which was the most known, successful rave party in the USA. A lot of well known guys came from there, we all came out of there. This used to be at Shelter (the old Vinyl); this really broke me into the rave scene. I wasn’t even 20 and was traveling all over the rave circuit in the U.S. I built a name for myself and started doing more and more clubs, especially with Keoki who really helped me out a lot. I used to open up for him at Disco 2000 on Wednesdays, at Limelight which was a huge party at the moment, full of club kids, all these people came out of that. I met Keoki at the first after-hours I ever played and he ended up becoming one of my main supporters!!

Describe your usual night out in the early 90’s?
I used to go to Disco 2000 Wednesdays. It was amazing, obviously Nasa was just memorable, then we were always going out late, after-hours, therefore Save the Robots was my real home, my residency. I played on Thursdays for 9 hours, but was always there anyway regardless if worked or not, it was my spot to hang out.

Did you dress up as club kid?
More of a combination: club kid/raver. You want to se a picture of me with a sock hat? And a pacifier?? Not I never did that... Never really did the glow stick either, built I actually dated a girl that used to sell all the glow jewelry at Nasa. That was a serious relationship I was in, and we both struggled together, she helped me out a lot and she became a very successful graphic designer. We both started from nothing and came up together!

So you were close to the ‘party monster’ story?
I knew them all personally, but about a year before this happened I lost touch with these people since I was traveling so much. I didn’t have time to be partying everyday like them.

So tell us more about your residencies?
So many residencies!
Limelight Thursday nights (I forgot what the night was called was called, I’m so bad at remembering party names)
Save the Robots on Thursdays The Roxy on Fridays, the party was ’Together’, and that was the place where I met everybody, I got to play next to all the big djs, Louie Vega, Danny Tenaglia, I was about 19. I was the closing dj at this party; I closed who ever was playing!! The closing was the best part!! It was such a memorable party! They used to turn the lights on like 20 min before closing, that’s when I knew I would just play beautiful records and at the end of party, everyone was so happy, hugging each other, people would just come into booth and hug me, saying “I Love You”. You don’t see that anymore!! There was one record I would always play called Together, the place would go crazy!!! I have to definitely add to all this that one of the biggest supporters I ever had was Tom Melllo; he was the promoter that gave me the chance to play the best parties!! I have been so lucky!! I ended up becoming best friend with the hottest promoter in New York City in that period! Everyone would die to play his parties, and here I was the resident; I was just so lucky! I really owe a lot to him. Then I started getting residencies abroad, Tank @ Sydney....also at the Mint Club in Leeds, Stereo and Playground in Montreal! Wow...hadn’t really looked back at all I’ve done!!

What Djs have inspired you??
DJ Jenö had a crew called the Wicked crew in San Francisco with Garth, they were heavy hitters! The English went to San Francisco and created the rave scene, acid house... Full moon parties which were amazing, I played one!! They used to play some Breaks, funk records, so creative, really stood out from everyone! we ended up with our own crew in the East, The Chocolate Factory I wish I could relieve all that shit! Those were the days!!

Though Louie Vega was the first dj to impress me, at this place called Hearthrobs, he used to play freestyle, around 1988, used to go hear him all the time!!

It’s so good to look back and see I was there when this culture was taking shape. I wasn’t at the Paradise Garage, but I feel I had my own personal Garage,  we lived some crazy shit!!! I’m sure you never even see in Ibiza!! People throwing flowers at the Dj, people smiling and tears flowing down their face in the middle of the floor; it was really something else!

So how did you make the leap from dj to producer?
I was working with my now partner, Chris at his distribution company in New York City I  took a job there to have kind of a stepping stone  into more of the business side of music. It was a great chance to get to know more people in the labels, it ended up I was tired of selling everyone else’s records and I figured producing was the next step for me. DJ gigs started slowing down and it was at the time when producers where being booked as djs and producing became a very important part of the career, I took that step so I could continue djing.

The first track of mine that actually was released by a label was on Red Melon with Dano, the Twisted Horns, which became the labels best selling record at the moment, which also got me recognition in England and other places.

Do you do your own programming? Producing?
I produce all my own stuff, I taught myself, kind of dove in headfirst, my good friend Master D helped me out when I had questions or I was stuck. We called him ‘Midi’ mike because he knows everything there is to know about electronic machines.

So how was it you got so involved with the west coast?
During the rave scene, there was a lot of amazing rave parties over there, the west coast raves were so much better, so much more spiritual, more hippies.....although lets not say better just different, since  there was a time also in the East where there were some amazing parties. It was different kind of love, but it was all love!!!!

And from producer to label owner? Give us a brief history of your label Maya...
I started producing, getting a good name for my productions, so along with Chris we decided to start our own label to focus my music, instead of trying to please other labels, this way I could just showcase my music, and myself, just put out what I love not thinking on what will sell or make money. Within that I just started meeting more people and then it became a way to showcase other talent that I like as well, help new artists.

Where does “Tattoo Sessions” fit in?
We had talked about doing a compilation for a while, it was over due actually!!! A compilation is for everybody, we make music for djs, not for everyone, they are the only ones that buy vinyl, although now with downloading era things are changing, now I figured a compilation was the way to get across to everybody!

How would you describe the compilation’s style? Favorite tracks on it?
The catalog of the label... Basically the different styles we put out on the label, deep dark, percussive a bit of everything, just good house music!!! Favorite tracks???? The Hustlers Revenge is one of my favorites ever, our first release, I don’t like to label my music, and there are so many different influences of music that I like that are influences in my music.
I wan tot get this CD out to the world, do some parties to get it out to everyone, its good way , since I am more known as a producer here in Europe it's good for people to see me as a dj

What else have you been working in the studio lately? any upcoming release?
I am trying to create a new sound...a fusion of maquina with....(hahahaha!!)..No seriously... Lately I’ve been doing some vocal stuff, we had never really emphasized vocals on the label, only realized like 1 or 2 vocals . I had a chance to work with DeLacey, someone known like her, an amazing vocalist. The track is called “Beautiful Day” and it’ll be a refreshing thing for the label to explore in that direction for a bit. I know not everyone is into vocals; but I don't want to be pigeon holed as just west coast label. I want stuff for everyone!

Djing or producing? What’s your favorite?
My life love has always been djing, and I got into producing to keep djing. Then I found this new love for producing, it was so satisfying to play records I made, I got in to that. I really like them both! It’s different, look at lit like this: Djing is instant gratification. Producing, there’s more patience needed for it but in the end it’s very rewarding... Seeing the reaction of people to your music!!

Any other interesting projects?
Well actually, I would love to think that I am working on a movie but I’m not going to jump the gun yet... I am also opening a bar in New York, which is a project I am very excited about.

Places that impressed you lately?

How do you compare today’s vibe to when you began djing in New York in the 90’s?
Things have definitely changed a lot, maybe the drugs were better back then...I don’t know, the energy was a lot different, it was more spiritual actually. Now its so different people don’t seem as happy as before. I used to play parties where you looked into the crowd and everyone had a smile, you don’t see that shit any more. That is so gratifying as a Dj to see that, and you don’t see that anymore. People enjoyed themselves more...I am not going to say that a vibe like this doesn’t exist anymore, because it does...but not as often as it used to, that’s the truth!

Thanks Joeski.

Check out the Tattoo Sessions Volume 1 and you’ll hear what Joeski is all about. For this, his label’s first mix CD Joeski draws on his own productions, releases from his own imprint, Maya, and cuts from other labels in the Syntax Distribution family. This 15-track mix features all the different vibes Joeski is known to feature in his sets, flowing from disco vibes and rugged tech on to vocals, Afro elements and deeper moments, the whole thing anchored by the sturdy percussion and tribal beats that are his trademark.

Words by Steve Galland