#UR61: JoyB (COUM / LCR / Main Concept)
Written by Razeed (Gemétrika FM)
Translation by CementO
Generation, in Spanish, can be understood in two meanings that are relevant; first, generation is synonymous of creation, second, a generation is a group of people in the arts or science whose work has common characteristics that were born or have lived years around the same historical circumstances.
I wanted to begin this text entry for JoyB’s podcast in this way because I think we are reaching the point where we could mention that there is a generational explosion in what refers to the creation of techno in our country. It’s not something that happened just suddenly, as it comes from a line marked by periods and previous generations in which, in one way or another, techno has always been a central priority category in Spain. The fact is that now, whether new technologies that democratize access to production possibilities, price reduction to necessary music machines, the socio-political moment or simple historical trend, it seems that they keep churning out producers who through hard work, continuity and, why not say talent, begin to enter foreign labels and in major artist’s bags. Spain is a country that has exported quality techno to the world for many years, but now it seems clearer and with a solid future.
JoyB is one of these new artists but not yet at the forefront and has spent several years showing his potential in making music, continuity and responsibility that has realised his dream of producing techno, something that I will always cherish greater extent than anything else. V-Obsession told me when we talked about Jose Bou (aka JoyB) that artists like him are why he asked me to collaborate with them because Geométrika FM helped him meet people like JoyB. I don’t remember very well how I discovered JoyB if it was through a friend of the Hypnotica Collective who told me about it, if it was through Facebook, or perhaps through Cicuta Net label, which owed a lot to the new Spanish techno artists whom I have been discovering for the last couple of years. What incredible work they have done and are still doing…
The fact is that however we got to know this guy, who fights for his dream and becomes known is always the one with merit, and JoyB spent many years chasing it from town to town, learning from each visit and each person that he crossed, as he tells us in the following interview that you will read below.
Razeed: When did you start listening to electronic music? What was the album that made you go: “wow, this is my stuff!”?
JoyB: Actually, it was not a time or specific media. I’ve been listening to electronic music from an early age. Not because my parents liked Kraftwerk or groups like that, but it was more for initiative and my own concerns. I was always fascinated (and I still do) the mysticism of the kind of ritual that is being gathered in a dark room, surrounded by people (although abstracted) with strobe lights and loud music with strong percussion and blasting synthesizers. Don’t ask me why, although I’m sure you understand what I mean. I can’t remember myself in an adolescent stage, loving it or paying due attention to any music other than electronic. I had a period of time where I tried and I had the absurd idea that to mature I had to like the “normal” music or the music that most of my friends were listening to. But there was no way I could like it. By that time I heard the “older” generation talk that mentioned taking the Valencia route and about the ambience that was created in those places and I got stunned listening and imagining it.
At that time there was no internet, I had to feed musically from what I could get, scratched around here or what they put on radio as “It’s Your Time”, but especially “Bikini Club” Radio 9 with DJ Bartual where in the mid to late 90s was transmitting almost whole nights from some Valencian club. I also remember that under my house there was an appliance store where a guy worked and who went every weekend “on the road”. By then, apart from bumper car and fans, cassette tapes sold in stores of nightclubs, and this guy bought each week the tape of the nightclub where he had been. Then he recorded and sold them on the black market at 100 pesetas (Spanish currency at that time) in the shop (pirate way at all). And there I was, buying tapes of nightclubs for 100 pesetas and listening on the Walkman. Over the years I ended up buying a cdj100 and dj60 akiyama, a few months later I bought my first turntable, a belt Acoustic Control. It might be near the year 1999 or 2000. You could say that was a pretty natural transition, as I was continually thinking of mixing music and songs that I thought would fit in my head. So in the end I decided the best way was to collect material, buy a computer and see for myself. I had never heard talk about Jeff Mills or Oscar Mulero until 2001 and until 2002 or 2003 I did not hear a live techno session. but I was listening live Mulero and Sven Väth first few weeks later at Florida 135 and changed my perception about everything related to music and the party I had ever known. I suffered a rather large musical identity crisis after, that made me stop DJing for a long period of time.
R: In your case, what interested you in becoming a producer?
J: As my step from listener to be a DJ was a pretty natural progression, I think that the move to become a producer was also like that. When you let an artistic discipline get you into so deep, I believe there comes a time when you want and need to give your contribution and show your way of seeing this art. In the case of music, by either playing it, producing, composing, spreading or even distributing… In my case, it came a time when it wasn’t worth just listening, collecting and playing, I felt the need to create my own tracks. I didn’t before because due to my lifestyle (where I move from town to town) I’ve never been in a long time in just one place and has always been lazy the idea of moving everything for every move. I had to do it with the equipment and was so difficult. Fortunately, thanks to advances in technology, now you can have the whole studio within a laptop, so it’s easier to carry it around and not have to break my head too much to move anything.
R: What do you feel when you see your music going out on different labels? How far do you think you can get?
J: Seeing my music on different labels, plus labels from around the world, it is a big satisfaction. I was “lucky” that everything I have published last year were the labels who contacted me, which means that my work is heard and appreciated by people who do not even know me personally. So in 2014 I published almost an EP every month in labels from Chile, Mexico, Germany, Scotland and of course Spain. However, this year I want to put on brakes a little and take better care what I release, focusing on publishing only those works that have convinced me 200% and in labels in which I have a pretty good job dynamic and have a way to understand this in a quite similar way. Labels like COUM, Main Concept, LCR or Floor Ready, in which I have a lot of trust and where I would like to grow as a producer as they grow as a label. This doesn’t mean that I’m closing myself to collaborate with more labels. As long as those projects are attractive and have a good fit in my way of understanding music.
How far I can get is something that time will tell, for it is influenced by many factors. But if I had to describe my “ideal future” in music, would be that the labels I have mentioned before grows to be known and recognized globally and I grow along with them. I rather like that idea than any mayor label contacts me, really. Even if I was contacted by a major label, I wouldn’t say no, of course, I’m not stupid.
R: Tell me a little about your sound; how you start producing, what kind of system you use, how you approach the production…
J: As in other aspects of my life, I like things to flow, so I don’t mark schedule where I say; from this hour to this hour I’ll be producing. So I can be two or three days without touching the computer and opposite day, been 8, 9 or 10 hours producing a track from beginning to finish. When I’m looking for some inspiration I look and listen to tracks and producers that I like and try, somehow, to get a similar sound. Although in the end, I always detour and I just do something that neither resembles the original idea I had in the first place. Some things lead to others, so maybe start to manipulate a sound or create a melody or play with a pad looking to make sound in a certain particular way, but before reaching the sound that I want, I get to something that I like and inspires me in a totally different way. From there, nothing is as I planned. It’s like chaos theory… hahaha
R: As I feel, you’re part of a “new” generation of techno artists born in recent years and struggling to gain a place in a greater or lesser extent, what you think is due to this exposure?
J: I believe, as I said before, technological advances have helped people like me, for example, to have access to produce our own music. If I had to buy a drum machine, synthesizer, an effect module and analogue sequencer, I think I would have never produced anything by myself, basically for lack of resources. All my current equipment is my MacBook Pro with Ableton, some freeware plugins, some other pirated plugin (don’t tell anyone and AKG K240 MKII headphones. And I know most producers are somehow “triumphing” in a much higher way that I and don’t have this level of equipment that I have. By this I mean that the concern and talent to produce have always been present, but the lack of resources and machine prices has often been a deterrent for anyone to decide to take the step to become a producer in the past. Clearly, if someone wanted to produce their music above all, it didn’t matter the price or the lack of anything, they bought their stuff and started making noises. But that wasn’t my case, I didn’t spend the little money I have to ever own a machine that I don’t know if I was going to take advantage of.
R: On the other hand, I think this generation is certainly undervalued due to the plug that causes the music of those who have been longer careers, and prevents that mayor part of that music doesn’t not reach the ears of the average techno listener… how do you feel about this?
J: This capful is not only seen in music. You can also see in politics, business… and even on television and radio. People who sit down don’t go out even with bleach.
In general, I think the political situation in Spain is a reflection of society levelled at maximum power. In Spain it have always predominated favouritism, the rally and interests. If you want to get something, it’ll be valued what they can get from you than you doing the right thing. Not to mention the inexplicable fear this country has to everything new or has connotations of change.
Then we have the situation of each region. For example, in Castellón, which is what more years I have seen and experienced (or rather, suffered), currently there are a couple of clubs where people go, but they’re gambling what’s been playing fashionable music for different seasons. These clubs are resented by people who only takes DJing who dance their water and they believe that because you are in their area you have to play for free or for a ridiculous price (as long as you have turned it before, if not, you don’t even exist to them). I don’t step out there or will play what they tell me what I have to play or suck their asses to anyone so I can get paid.
Then we have local DJs, who we feed separately. Today they play indie, yesterday they played house (or something they so-call house), tomorrow they’ll say they play something they believe is techno because Beatport tells them it’s techno, the day after tomorrow they’ll play EDM, next day “pachangueo” (Latin danceable music)… they would play anything as long as they can be in the mix and contact them, demonstrating a disturbingly shocking lack of personality. What is worse, you talk to them about it and they won’t ever recognized you and they’ll try to sell you the idea that they like a bunch types of different music or “have a very wide range” or that they just play whatever they like… and infinite more excuses. Anyway… you can’t take them seriously. In the same case, they have a conception of techno where I personally am dedicated to produce and DJing, where I feel insulted. And I don’t like to feel insulted, I’m not at all interested in being part of the Castellón’s scene, or rather, their scene. I imagine that in Madrid or Barcelona something alike happens. Although other levels.
R: Do you think the social situation of a country can influence to a certain musical style that can be hearing around?
J: I don’t know so much that to be heard rather than to create, I believe. Speaking of electronic music, don’t forget that Kraftwerk was born in Germany divided by the wall. Or that the techno germ as we know it today is in the black neighbourhoods of Detroit, socially marginalized, but economically they were in a better level than their ancestors, who were the ones who created other loaded musical styles with soul and feeling like jazz, blues or soul. When they were historically marginalized and coincidentally, this exposure of Spanish producers of which we spoke earlier coincides with the economic crisis in Spain. I always thought that, somehow, it is more creative and it finds something full of feeling when you have something that ails you than when everything is pink in your life.
R: What kind of artists would you recommend us to listen?
J: I really listen to everything, depends on the day. Writing this, for example, am listening to Schubert in a list on Spotify that I have with only piano music and synthesizers in which there is music of Yann Tiersen, Chopin, Ólafur Arnalds, Angelo Badalamenti… When I’m not listening to electronic music, I like to listen to a lot of 60’s and 70’s rock. But if I have to recommend something specific, I would recommend Apparat, Portishead, Sigur Ros, Fever Ray… those are groups that if you listen, nobody in their right mind should be able to say they are bad or dislike them. Something I also love listening is the Electromagnética podcast. Whenever I discover things you did not know in each program. The musical background of David and his team seems tremendous.
A: You’re from Castellon, what do you think Bakalao’s Route contributed to our country’s scene and the European scene?
J: I’m not a fan of “Bakalao’s Route” name. Basically because ordinary people associate this name to the black part of a movement that I think musically was a pioneer in Spain and, if not for the bad reputation that was given when it began to be called “Bakalao’s Route” it would have an importance, comparable globally to what it’s happening right now in Berlin, the one that existed in Ibiza or the one in Madrid with “La Movida” (‘The Move’) or in Barcelona after the Olympic Games. In those years there were live concerts by Nitzzer Ebb, Front 242 and groups who by that time weren’t unknown in the rest of the country and have contributed so much to electronic music. Today most people know what that time was thanks to the famous program in Canal+ and they stayed with that.
R: Have you lived in many places besides Castellón, Ibiza, Barcelona, Berlin? What importance has music been on this?
J: Well, the truth is that more than one would expect. Although some places I was more moved by the music scene they had to others, the truth is that it is something that I notice when I decide what will be my next destination. Except when I decide to spend some time in Castellón, there commands the necessity to be near my family.
R: What has each place contributed to your musical concept?
J: I like to think that each place has contributed a lot musically. When I went to Ibiza, I spent a few years living halfway between the island and Barcelona. That time, techno was relatively new to me, because until then I had lived in Castellón and I haven’t heard much this kind of electronic music in my life. There I was a fast for Mondays at Amnesia and I enjoyed listening to Sven Väth and company, despite his headloose, I believe he is one of the most versatile DJs I’ve ever seen. From there I went to Madrid, where I met some kids with whom I formed a small collective and I played on some raves for the south area of Madrid and Toledo, even playing on a couple of occasions at CODE Fabrik. After Madrid I came to Berlin, where my experience was pretty good, actually, and it contributed so much musically. In a year and a half I met very interesting people. But mostly I met the techno culture in a place where it is taken to the max and that was something that grabbed me very strong into it. It’s true there isn’t a necessity to be in Berlin to make good music or play better, but it is undeniable that if last night you’ve been to Berghain or Tresor or any party you could get there, you sit down to make music with other predisposition.
I got back for some personal issues, so far away I had to be aware of what was going on here. In addition, winter there is cold as hell… hahahaha!!
Anyway, the idea of travelling to Berlin is something I would do if I submit the chance in the future, I got many more good than bad things from that experience. For example, among some good things that happened there, I met Liss C (who took my first EP on his label LCR) and shook my relationship with Hector Oaks (which I already knew from my time in Madrid), now I have a very good friend relationship with both, leaving aside the musical section. Also, for a series of bounces of fate, I met Alberto and Patti, the boys behind the label COUM, through Fede, a mutual friend whom I met in Berlin through Héctor (so you can see how many rebounces there was). Fede told him about me and my music to Alberto when they told him they were going to start a label. From there Alberto contacted me to do a podcast that first would be for podcast series Kraftmann Records, but ultimately he kept so it can open the podcast series COUM, where it has published podcasts of the best names in contemporary Spanish techno scene, something that gave me joy. After the podcast we decided to take the first reference of COUM with my name. What gave me more joy if it was more to put.
I like to think that if I haven’t had the chance to travel to Berlin, none of this had happened. So it contributed a lot musically.
R: What needs to have the other person’s track for you to play it out?
J: Mainly, that I like it. I don’t usually notice of one style or another, but mainly I play techno. I like strong music and that have something to say, that is not based on a jack, queen and king.
R: What does electronic dance music offer you that other types of music don’t?
J: First of all, it gives me the chance to express myself and show things I cannot explain otherwise. I don’t use speech to express my feelings, so depending on my mood I play music more or less relaxed or produce more or less dark or hard music. When I’m enjoying it as a listener, electronic music gives me the chance to escape from the concerns you may have in the day. With other styles of music, even I also like to listen, It isn’t that easy to get to these moods. I couldn’t explain why this happens, really.
R: Describe the time in a dj booth where you had to breathe deeply twice to not scream of satisfaction.
J: A couple of months when I played in Mini Club in Valencia, next to Ben Gibson, Phone and Liss C, when I was in the middle of my set, it came Ben Gibson from behind, euphoric, saying something like I was devouring him and what an awesome mix I was doing. When I finished playing, Hypnotica Collective members all came to congratulate the session I have done. These people, who are like the “Valencian Sanhedrin techno” or at least I think so, congratulated for what you just did, that’s fulfilling. But as I said in the previous question, I don’t quite express my feelings, so it’s not that I was in the need to shout out of satisfaction, at least for now I still have not felt that, I hope to feel it someday, it will be a good sign.
R: Who are your musical influences?
J: I really have no clear musical reference or someone who seems to me that everything he does is good. I’ve never been very idolater, on the contrary, I am very critical, both for what I do like with what others do, so I usually notice people in different periods of time. I’ve had times where I notice Sven Väth a lot, others in which I notice a lot Shifted and Rødhåd… Currently you could say that I’m very inspired in ancient works from Regis, or the latest productions from Sleeparchive or Luke Slater. Obviously, I’m also hearing a lot these days Aphex Twin, mainly due to the uproar reinforced in recent weeks. So you can’t say I have to Aphex as a reference, by no means.
R: What is your fetish track today?
J: Today I have a couple of records that don’t leave my bag. One is “200” from Donato Dozzy, 2013 and another is the “Gymnastics” from Regis, 1996.
R: How long do you see yourself fighting for your way of understanding this world?
J: Well I have no idea. The truth is that because I don’t like to rush things up, I like them to flow in and out alone and as far as production is concerned, I started relatively late (although playing has taken many years), I see myself strong to use much time spreading as far as possible the way I understand it, it should be treated electronic music. Also today, the opportunities given by the internet to do it so, I wouldn’t feel good missing it out.
R: Beside of the production, do you have any idea of the future we can expect?
J: Personally; I have planned to move to Madrid throughout this year, although I haven’t a clear idea when will it happen. I imagine that will be late summer or early fall, if all goes as I expected. I am a city rat and I like the feeling of having things close at hand, even though I don’t take advantage of, but I feel comfortable knowing that I do really want something, I’m really home. And Madrid is a city that has absolutely everything a person with concerns might need (minus a beach), where I was living for almost four years and ultimately love. For me, along with Barcelona, are the best places in all Spain and much of Europe, despite all the political problems that exist in both cities. For what they’re lacking, perhaps, give a more cultural and respectable treatment to electronic music and take off so many complexes when they look in the mirror from other European capitals, it seems that they just have to be proud to be the “Real Madrid” and “Barça”, and that is not so. There is much to be proud of a lot of people who know what they are doing and has talent in abundance. All we need is those individuals believe in themself and dislodge those who just make smoke that are the visible heads now in most areas. Not only the political man, also the businessman.