Hi Joe, thanks for taking the time to chat. We’re here to talk about the new album, a project that you’ve created and dedicated to the memory of Joey Deez, the co-owner of the record label Village Live, who sadly passed away recently. Can you start off talking about when and how you got to know Joey?
Our friendship started back in 2017 after I was contacted by him and Doug (aka Remulak) about potentially releasing an album on Village Live. I had just moved to Berlin from Manchester and had been working on instrumentals that would later make up ‘Die Berlin Dateien’, which was released in July 2017.
In the year that followed we began to build a friendship online between Germany and the UK. Around the time of my second Village Live release ‘Dressed for CCTV’ in November 2018, we began chatting every day. Although our friendship initially revolved around music it soon developed beyond this, with him visiting me in Berlin several times, me staying with him in Brighton, and him joining Move 78 on tour in 2019.
One thing I learnt from all the tributes and stories shared by friends of Joey and members of the music industry is how respected he was across the board. So many people talked about how he helped them, guided them, and supported them through their careers. It must have been so nice to see people coming together and showing respect for him like that right?
Yeah, it’s a bit overwhelming to be honest. It was lovely to read, but as with anything nice related to his passing it comes with this bitter-sweet element where I’d much prefer not to be reading them at all and him just be here. When I was over in the UK for the funeral I visited Ewan at Rarekind Records (where Joey worked) and he was saying how he actually didn’t understand how Joey had the time to literally even interact with that many people (especially when he should’ve been working!), let alone have a positive impact on them all. He was an active member of a lot of different communities and I’m still only really beginning to see how widely respected he was.
I’m guessing you can relate to these tributes considering how much association you’ve had with Village Live over the years.
Only too well. He used to crack jokes that he rescued my career from obscurity. The prick 🙂 But yeah, it was sick to have someone like him run a label and to be able to send him shit and him buzz off it. It gave me a lot of confidence in what I was doing, and will continue to do so.
Following on from the outcry online were the tributes that followed in physical form in Brighton, one of them being that massive graff of his name. Fucking cool stuff and really touching sentiment! Knowing Joey personally do you think he would be as blown away as the rest of us at that tribute?
There have been a lot of instances where my and Joey’s other close mates find ourselves saying, “he would’ve loved this”, from the monumental graffiti tributes to the sick (yet still relatively small) BBQ jam at his wake, which was a bit of a who’s who of the UK hip-hop scene. He would’ve been blown away for sure, but he probably also would’ve turned round and been like “it’s cuz I’m big in the game, bruv!” were he here. I’m looking forward to when the pandemic is over and we can have a full scale event for him with skating, graff, breaking, live music, the whole works. It’s a shame that people have not been able to collectively mourn in person at the minute. Words and tributes often don’t cut it when actually what people really need is a big fucking hug.
Talking of graffiti, a tribute also features on the album cover too right?
Yes sir, it’s by AROE who is a legend in both in the graff scene and just as a human. We’d chatted a bit online prior to Joey’s death, but in the aftermath he was proper supportive and when I was over for the funeral I went and stayed with him for a few days. He knew Joey as well via Rarekind and just generally being located on the south coast. He sent me a version of the sketch before he’d painted the mural (which is outside Rarekind) and I kinda had the thought it would be sick to use as a cover one day. I’m proper happy with how the whole artwork has come together, the huge blockbuster painted by loads of his mates from Brighton is also on the inside of the gatefold cover. Props to everyone who painted that. It’s fucking nuts, pretty sure it’s about 150 ft. long.
The concept of the album is solely a tribute To Joey. Can you start by explaining when it was you decided to do the album and talk us through the process of putting it together?
Due to the international nature of our friendship a large part of it was conducted by sending each other pictures of album covers, audio recordings of drum breaks, and voice messages lovingly insulting one another. After I found out about his death I immediately panicked that our correspondence would be frozen or blocked, and so I bulk downloaded all of the pictures, videos, and voice messages he sent me, I guess as a means to cling on to thedigital traces of our friendship.
I began listening to the voice messages frequently and at some point in the first few days after his death I decided I would make some music featuring them. I started to make the album for myself initially as a kind of musical therapy but soon realised I could make something that would not only bring joy to me but also to others who knew him, and for those who only knew him vicariously through Village Live perhaps even shine a light on the hilarious guy that he was.
I finished the basic draft of the album in the period of time between finding out from Doug about Joey’s death on 25th June 2020 to the day before I attended his funeral in Cambridge on July 20th 2020.
The majority of the actual instrumental music on the album was created during Covid-19 lockdown. I would send my friend, Doron Segal, ideas built from an array of Anime soundtracks, he would then play additional parts on keyboards and synthesisers and send them back to me, and I would turn them into full tracks. I would send Joey snippets of all the finished music, and so out of the thirty-odd beats I knew which ones he loved and which ones he didn’t.
At some point in the first few days of making the actual album I looked up the meaning of the word ‘ode’ and then tried to reinterpret this style of structured poem into the tribute album for him. There are three sections: up-tempo b-boy shit, mid-tempo hip-hop, down-tempo breakbeats. With each song being a sort of conversation of messages and music between me and him. I decided to have the album descend in bpm as well, so it starts off at 131bpm and ends up at 60bpm, which hopefully will take the listener on a bit of an emotional journey. I’m not exactly sure why I decided to do this, it just seemed to make sense that by the time you get to the final tune, which is a two minute-long message from him talking about life in general, you kind of know you are hearing the last from him. It will probably be strange as fuck for someone who doesn’t get the context of the album but I’m not really gonna worry about that.
The album also contains several songs which are made out of samples Joey gave me from his personal record collection. Each of the three sections of the ode also feature a track called ‘Phone Breaks’ which are literally made from breaks and samples that myself and Joey sent each other via our phones. Although Joey was a big supporter of my music I know he preferred my simpler, less complex pieces. So with this in mind I tried to build the album he would have curated from my own work.
You mentioned this album being a sort of musical therapy to help deal with the sad loss of life. Do you think other artists may be doing the same in the wake of Joey’s passing?
I know Matt Kuartz already released a beat with a voice message from Joey on the start, which was dope. Matt actually donated a few choice voice messages to the album I made. I’m sure other artists on the label will do tributes in their own time. I hope that this tribute and others made in the future can help raise a bit of money to help Joey’s family with the financial burden of the funeral costs and other legal arrangements. As I said previously, there will be a huge tribute party to him one day and I’m sure loads of people will make stuff for that.
I found the conversation samples between you two on the album really touching and also fucking funny. It really puts a personal touch on the album. When I first listened while driving to work it had me giggling constantly! He was a proper comedian Joey right?
Yeah man, the dude was hilarious. Amidst all the loving outpourings there is a tendency to paint someone as a saint or whatever if they leave us early, which makes me feel a bit odd as I don’t want people saying that about me when I die (I mean, they probs wont anyway) and I’m not sure Joey would. So for the record he was a regular flawed individual whilst also being a gloriously cheeky cunt!
In the end the beats are really just the platform for the voice messages. I have so many more but they were either too specific or they interrupted the flow of the album too much.
Your relationship seemed pretty unique too. Obviously he saved your career and that haha! Have you ever experienced anything like this from other labels who you work with? Seems pretty unique treatment to be honest.
I never worked with other labels. I used to do all my own shit with regards to vinyl releases, and so if it had been super serious, professional-type setup at VL it probably would’ve put me off. We’re not shifting Lady Gaga-level units here so the formality would ruin the fun that can be had when you have total creative control. No suits, no mission statements, just people operating on the fringes, doing whatever the fuck they want.
Best example of the unique treatment you speak of happened with the last 7″ we worked on before his death. The vinyl arrived and he pranked me by sending a video of him unpacking the boxes only to fake that the sleeves didn’t get delivered…and then revealing that they did in-fact arrive whilst calling me a mug 😉
Funniest thing being, he posted this video online immediately only for him to then put the first record on the turntable to find it was warped to fuck…and then the next, and then the next, until he realized the whole pressing was basically fucked and we had to send them all back and delay the release for six weeks. Then he died before we put them out, which sucked all jokes out of everything.
You referenced how the album tempo starts fast and slows down, acting like a journey. is this something you planned on prior to starting the project?
Nah, not at first, but after making the first few beats all blend into one-another I laid out what I had and realized I could do it. I love subtle shit like that. Subliminal musical guidance. I also made the conscious decision to make all the tracks short or cut-off before you’d expect them to finish, to kinda match my feeling of unfinished business or ill-timing. Feels a bit sadistic writing it out but I think it makes sense: the album is dense, short, funny and emotional, which for me perfectly represents our relationship. That, and the beats are tough as fuck, which is the other key theme of our relationship.
Let’s talk about the contributions on the album starting with Doron Segal. Talk us through his involvement in the project.
Doron and myself are good mates and we’ve been working pretty intensely on the Move 78 album for quite a while now, with him stepping away from more traditional ‘jazz’ sounds and really getting stuck into electronics, synths, granulation, and sampling.
During Covid-19 lockdown we got into a pretty magical routine where I’d send him a new idea every day and he’d flesh it out and really bring it to life in which ever way it needed. On tracks where I already had keys or string sounds he’d focus on the low end, playing in mad bass sounds and fx, and on tracks where I had the bass sorted he’d do the inverse. By the end of the 34 days where we did this beat-a-day thing we’d amassed a proper broad range of music which we were planning on releasing as a duo, but then when Joey died and I started building the structure for the Joey LP it kinda became more personal to me.
I noticed during some of the tunes there’s some cutting and scratch biz. Can you tell us who you got involved to do them?
The cuts are done by Jazz T, Evil Ed, and Pauly Omas. All three of them knew Joey via the label and all had personal relationships with him to one degree or another, and so when I mentioned that I’d made the project they were all up for getting on it. Mr. Thing, who also knew Joey and had released a project with VL, was supposed to be cutting on the opening track but he was moving house at roughly the exact time I’d got in touch about it and so it didn’t quite come to fruition.
There’s one skit/voice sample which I’m pretty sure is you but you sound like absolute shit so it’s hard to tell haha. Something about being hungover etc? Fancy explaining that voice note a bit? I thought you northerners were supposed to be hard and that.
I’m 35 now, so my hangovers are more vibrant and thorough nowadays, northern or not! The voice messages are only the tip of the iceberg in the amount of shit we would chat, and the focus of the particular thread you mention is one whereby I continually promised Joey that I’ll make some background lo-fi chill-hop study music that he could pitch to Spotify to try and actually make money from. The joke being that my actual music is not relaxing or even essentially marketable, something which I pride myself on (weirdly).
A friend accidentally paid me probably the highest praise I have ever received the other day:
Matt: “You know when you watch a movie and it leaves you in a sort of altered state or in a mood for some time after? It’s often uncomfortable.”
Me: “Which movie?”
Matt: “But it means you just encounter something thats more than a comforting Hollywood thing. Your music is like that. It’s not background comfort music.”
Before we wrap up the interview is there anything you wanna add or any shout-outs you wanna give?
Shouts to you for doing the interview and enjoying getting into the long form chat. It’s good try to explain this shit, it gives me a better understanding of what I’ve done. Other than that I’d just suggest to anyone that has read this far and hasn’t actually checked the album to go and do so. Buy a copy of the vinyl. We’ve sold 300 of the 500 and we’re gonna be giving Jane (Joey’s mum) a lump of cash pretty soon and we’ll give her another lump once we shift them all.
Oh yeah, enjoy your life whilst you’ve got it and try not to be too much of a cunt x