JOESKI is one of the most dependable producers in the world of dance music.
He is a pioneer who, alongside the likes of H Foundation and Onionz, developed what became known as the west coast sound of house music in the late 90’s and early 00’s. The records he and his peers made during those early years still sound fresh and resonate with their influence in modern day house and techno.
The Brooklyn born DJ has been a stalwart in the New York house music scene since he first started gaining notoriety way back in 1991 as a founding member of the Chocolate Factory DJ collective playing venues such as Limelight, Tunnel, Palladium and the infamous NYC afterhours Save The Robots alongside his Together residency at the Roxy playing alongside other NYC legends Danny Tenaglia, Louie Vega and Roger Sanchez.
Since 2001 his label Maya Records has gone from strength to strength and continues to this day with the most recent release from David Herrero tearing up dance floors from New York to Ibiza. Joeski himself has enjoyed a huge summer so far and his release schedule has been typically prolific seeing music popping up on a variety of tastemaker imprints from Crosstown Rebels and Pokerflat Recordings to Nervous, Dirtybird and Hot Creations.
We caught up with Joeski for a chat amid a hectic touring schedule.
In your now three decades in dance music you have seen it all. The scene in your home town NYC has certainly changed a lot. Can you talk us through some of these changes and the challenges the city has faced and tell us how it compares there today to when you first started out?
Back in the day the Manhattan club crowds were definitely bigger – every Friday at the Roxy we did 3000 people. For one thing, we always partied in the city – no one ever went to Brooklyn or Queens. When they started enforcing the cabaret license and introduction of bottle service – the club scene fell off. Then Brooklyn put NY back on the map.
How do you stay inspired with the music you produce?
I love what I do so I always feel inspired. I spend time listening to different types of music and films for inspiration. I pride myself on my consistency as that has always been a strong point throughout my career.
I discovered your music at the start of 2000 as you launched Maya Records. It seemed for a while every other piece of vinyl I brought was by yourself or a collaboration with someone like Onionz, Dano, Halo and Hipp-E on Electrick Soul, Siesta or the like. How special was this time for you as an artist?
It was an amazing time for music. Everything about it. Used to look forward to hitting the record stores to pick up and hang out with friends. The tour schedule was extremely busy in those days – with two complete trips around the world I played some parties that will always be remembered.
The sound you were making then has turned out to be way ahead of its time with a lot of those records sounding as fresh today as they did back then. Did you feel at the time you were at the forefront of a new sound as a pioneer? Who inspired you back then?
I knew we (H-Foundation, Onionz, Master D) created a new sound that ended up labelled as the west coast sound that I hear in music today. People like Global Communication, Mood II Swing, Kenny Hawkes were huge influences and I still play their records today.
There is a conveyor belt of music giving tech house rather a bad name these days, especially coming out of the UK. There doesn’t seem to be a good system of quality control anymore in this digital age?
For one thing – the market is completely oversaturated and I feel like quality has suffered. Hearing a lot of records not properly mixed. Maybe the solution is to make your own records – hahaha!
Fast forward to today. You have a selection of releases coming up on the likes of Dirtybird, Desert Hearts and your own Maya Records and your tour schedule is seriously busy doing nine shows in August alone from Australia to Colombia to Ibiza and Canada. That’s impressive! What have been the highlights this summer so far and what are you looking forward to?
I just played two amazing gigs at Stereobar and a boat party for I Feel in NYC. Also Paradise at DC10, Ibiza and I’m looking forward to returning to City Hall – Barcelona, PM Club – Sofia, and Moon Republic – Beirut.
How do you juggle making music, running the label with such a hectic schedule?
Work ethic, work ethic, work ethic.
You also have three residencies at Stereobar in Montreal, Under Club in Punta Cana and Lyre in Lima. Can you tell us about your long association with the scene in Canada and also why you decided to undertake the South American residencies?
Montreal has always had a special place in my heart. I had a monthly residency at Stereo first for years and now am playing at Stereobar. These two rooms have one of my favorite sound systems in North America.
As far as South America goes – I’m Colombian so I love playing there!
Putting you on the spot here. Can you give us your top 5 tracks from your long career?
Hustles Revenge (Maya Records)
Tribute to Obatala (Crosstown Rebels)
On a Journey (Siesta Music)
All By Myself (Suara)
Mind, Body, and Soul (Maya Records)