You’ve used the phrase ‘Don’t Just Press Play’ to define your style of DJing. What exactly do you mean by that?
‘Don’t Just Press Play’ means always putting everything into what you do! Never taking what you do for granted or performing unprepared or half-hearted, always being fully committed, creative and having fun when putting music together and never just pressing play. It’s not just a DJ style though, it’s how I live my life; no auto pilot, just taking what you have and interpreting it in your own way.
In terms of your technical ability, how long has it taken you to get to the point you’re at now?
17 years ago, I first picked up a record. I’ve always had an interest in technical DJing, so I practiced it from the day I started! My big brother ran a pirate radio station in 1987 through to 1991, and a sound system, so I was a baby watching Notting Hill Carnival rock. I had some of the best DJs in the area playing music in my flat every week… so it was a natural progression for me.
How did you learn? Were there any programmes/workshops you attended, or did you teach yourself by trial and error?
Studying the greats – Sir David Rodigan, Tony Vegas, DJ EZ, Roger Sanchez and Kissy Sell Out, to name a few – on tape, video, mix CDs, YouTube and live in-the-flesh inspired me a massive amount. I can’t express how much these DJs influenced me. Early on, I learned how to beat match at Raw Material studio by Ants and Darrel. The rest was self-taught from videos, mixes and frustration. I wasn’t aware of any programmes or anything like that when I started, but a few years ago I became part of a group that works with other DJs to help them develop and share what we’ve learned on our journeys up to this point – I love it!
What’s your favourite venue?
To rave: DC10 Ibiza. I love to get there 5/6pm on a Monday and catch that vibe through till the morning… It’s such an awesome place! To play: Rainbow Venues, Birmingham. Every room has its own special quality but the place as a whole is amazing.
“[…] just like music, music venues will evolve and change and will always find their own way. As long as there have been humans there’s been music and places to experience it. We always find a way!”
Are you concerned about the future of small venues? They’re important to club nights showcasing new DJs.
I am concerned because so many are struggling and they’re the hub for the next generation of DJs. However, music venues – just like music – will evolve and change and will always find their own way. As long as there have been humans there’s been music and places to experience it. We always find a way!
What’s been your biggest moment as a DJ so far?
Wow, there are so many fantastic moments up to this point. But closing the Privilege main stage for Radio 1 in Ibiza this summer was an incredible moment. Yeah… that was definitely an experience and a half [laughs].
As a DJ whose star is on the rise, do you find that your life can feel quite surreal? How do you keep a grip on reality when things are going well?
I feel incredibly grateful to have experienced the life I have. I’ve worked at 30+ different jobs to arrive here, to know what I want to do, and to create a life where now I get to wake up every day and do what I love. I’m thankful for it and I keep working hard to develop, but I have such a long way to go for what I have in mind, so it feels like I’m only just starting!
If the world was about to end and you could play one last favourite track, what would it be?
‘Big Ship’ by Freddie McGregor. The first five seconds of this record melt my soul and everything else in that moment would be irrelevant. It fully brings me into ‘the now’.
The internet exposes us to unprecedented levels of new artists and genres. How important is it for a DJ to have a diverse taste in music?
Music is like food; we all prefer certain types but if you eat your favourite food every day you will get sick of it! Mix it up over the days and you’re much happier – maybe you’ll decide one type will taste great with another for an awesome mix. Try to approach it with an open mind; the music you love wasn’t just created, it evolved from something else.
For our upcoming DJs and younger readers: What tips can you give them for creating the perfect mix?
I suppose it depends what the mix is for (sometimes you have to ‘dress up to get in’, playing a certain way to get your foot in the door) but many people will have their own different views on the ‘perfect mix’. From experience, I’d advise: put the music together in a way that you feel excited by and proud of, and love that way regardless of the outcome. You’re doing what comes from the heart and you can’t go wrong with that!
What can our visitors expect from your set?
I’m so excited to play for you guys. It’ll be a full-on journey of four-deck mixing, FX, live off-the-cuff production, remixing, cutting, scratching, looping… Xö music sprinkled with some strange dancing for good measure! Summed up in the simplest way: Don’t Just Press Play.
You can catch Joshua’s incredible four-deck DJing inside the CHAUVET DJ Arena on Monday 23 Oct.