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Annelies Rom

Q&A

We Need To Talk About Joker

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We Need To Talk About Joker

After six years, Joker is back. After his and everyone else’s world came to a standstill due to COVID-19, he took the opportunity to take some time off and perfect his sound. Now that the world is opening up again for good, he’s ready to get back out there. With recent releases ‘Juggernaut’ and ‘ S Wave’, it’s safe to say he’s back better than ever. 

2024 took him to Manchester, London, and Bristol already, but now Joker is getting ready to head back to the US for Infrasound Festival, a special show at Red Rocks, and a full tour around the country. “This feels like it’s a continuation of where I was just pre-COVID, and I’m excited,” Joker says. 

He talks about his future plans, his recent UK shows, and his upcoming US tour with us. “I have a release schedule until 2025 at this point.”

Hi, how are you doing? 

It’s been good! From what I can see, my new stuff is being well-received on social media. People seem happy that new stuff is coming out. I try not to pay too much attention to those things and just focus on the music, but it’s all right.

Why do you choose not to pay too much attention to that side? 

I just focus on the music. There’s an importance to social media and promoting the music, but I don’t think many people like social media in general anyway. I try to pop on and say what I need to say and get back to making some music. It’s a hard one because people who make music really just want to make music, but you can’t just make music and expect things to do well without a bit of promotion. There’s a fine line. 

It’s been a while since you had something to promote on social media because it’s been about six years since you released some new music. Why did you wait so long?

I took my time to practice a little more and perfect my sound. I needed time to play with my music and be in my space without much direction. I think it’s quite easy to say yes and just go along with everything without ever really thinking where you’re going. When COVID-19 happened, everyone’s lives were definitely stopped for a second. You’re at home for a few years. It’s not that I release music to do shows or anything. I enjoy making music. Music needs to come out regardless of whether it’s for the dance floor or not. But yeah, the world kind of disappeared, and I went along with it a little bit. After a few years, it feels like the world is still in a fucked up place, but it’s kind of getting better now, and I’m finding my place back in it as well. 

How did you find the world back?

Most of this is regarding post-COVID. At one point, the world was just closed off. It just seems like things are open now. Before COVID, the music felt like it was getting exciting again a little bit, at least from my point of view in some of the things I’m involved in, and in my opinion, COVID-19 helped reset things a little bit. We went backward in some ways. Right now, luckily, it feels like the scene getting to that point before COVID again. 

How are you seeing that change in the scene? 

Obviously, I’m not at all the parties, but from some of the stuff I’m seeing, from what many of my friends are doing, and what people say online, it looks like people are enjoying 140 a lot more. I don’t believe it ever died. I don’t think music ever dies, but there’s an excitement there.

How have you evolved as an artist and a person during those six years?

I’m going to answer your question in a strange way. To me, an idea has a sonic imprint. When most producers have an idea, it has a sonic imprint, whether they know this or not. That sonic imprint in your head doesn’t always come through the speaker immediately. It was about trying to understand more of what’s in my head and getting it out of the speakers.

Even when I have a new idea, it can still remind me of an idea I had made 15 years ago. I’m me, even though this idea is more advanced or better executed. Sometimes, I see it as the Porsche 911. They keep making the same car over and over again, and it gets better, and people want the next one. So, it’s not that I’m not trying to say that my sound isn’t expanding or I’m not trying new things, but it’s trying to make this version of myself better every time. 

It’s not that I don’t have songs that I’m gonna put out that aren’t different, but every time I thought I had made something completely out there or different, and I show it to a few friends, they say that it sounds exactly like what they expect of me. I’ve learned it’s hard not to be yourself, which is also a good thing. 

After those six years off, you’re ready to get back out there. You recently played Bristol, Manchester, and London. How was it to be back out there?

It’s been good. Before COVID, I remember saying to people that the last bunch of shows I had done had been pretty good. This feels like it’s a continuation of where I was just pre-COVID. I can feel a bit more excitement in the scene. And that makes me excited as well. 

You’re also going to the US soon again. How are you preparing for that? 

How will I prepare for it? I’ve never really prepared for a show unless I’ve done a back-to-back with someone, and they said they wanted to prepare. My preparation is just making sure riddims are on the USB stick. If I’ve tried to have an idea of what I’m going to play, I get to the show, and the vibe there might make me change the idea of how I wanted to start the set completely. I usually just wing it on the night, haha! 

How do you feel getting back to the US?

You should play whatever you’re going to play, wherever you’re going to play. You don’t have to go somewhere and specifically smash it. However, if I’m in the UK and want to drop a certain garage song or something in the middle of my set, it’s a lot different to people here than anywhere else in the world because all of these songs are most people’s youth, depending on their age. Not that they won’t appreciate the music anywhere else in the world, but it just might not have the same connection with them. With me saying that that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play these songs wherever; it just means it’s a different vibe. 

I remember I played a show in Detroit once, and it got to the end of the night, and we were able to keep going for a few more hours than planned. They told me I could play whatever I wanted. I just played grime and garage all night, and Detroit was down. 

What’s the biggest difference, you think?

Sometimes how changeovers can happen, they feel like a big festival. In European or UK clubs, these things don’t normally happen. You get your last rhythm ready, and the next DJ is ready. You keep things moving. In America, it feels like a concert sometimes, not always, of course. And things finish early! To be honest, when you’re touring, that’s kind of a plus. 

There are a lot of differences, and it’s hard to try to calculate what the difference actually is. The show we’ve done in Bristol, with Spyro and P-Money, was also an early one. We played last, which was from 1 AM till 2 AM, and it worked. I think it brings a lot of people in their 30s and 40s out. You see people going out and having one drink or none at all and getting home in bed nice and early. You can still be up at a decent time after one of those nights. Those kinds of nights happen more often in the US, but as you can see, they also happen in the UK from time to time. 

One of the festivals you will play in the US is Infrasound in June. You’ll be playing not one but two sets. What can we expect?

My first set will be garage and grime, which is pretty much what I grew up on. That’s the stuff that excited me and got me into music back in the day. The plan for the first set is to play all kinds of music, really. Maybe you’re gonna hear some tunes you’ve not heard before. I just know it will work at Infrasound. It’s not gonna feel alien because the tempo’s quite similar to 140. I always play a random few bits in my set, so when you’ve seen me play before, you know what’s up. It’s interesting because I didn’t really like dubstep when I first heard it. I only wanted to listen to grime and garage music when I was young. Right now, I think grime and dubstep are so similar. I grew to like the genre and started hearing stuff that excited me. I started playing dubstep tunes out on nights I was booked, too. I used to be a grime producer only, but after a while, I started getting booked to play dubstep nights in Bristol, like Subloaded, even though I wasn’t making dubstep. By being in these clubs, the genre naturally started to rub off on me, and I started to enjoy dubstep music more.

What more can we expect from you this year?

I’m sitting on loads of music I’m finishing now. I’ve got a few horn sessions to record on some tracks, and I have a release schedule until 2025. I’m back for real now. Those six years went by really fast. When I think about it, 2008 to 2014 was a big part of dubstep; that was also six years! It’s mental to think that if I went back to that time and never released a riddim from 2008 to 2014, that would be quite insane. I won’t be doing that again. You can expect way more music from me in the coming months and years. I’m excited.

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