We had a chat with the incredibly talented Joey Negro, ahead of his set on Mount Boom this weekend! Here’s what we spoke about…
You’re known as someone with an extensive record collection, what was the first record you ever bought?
The actual first record I bought was a record by 10cc called Rubber Bullets but I also bought this album of hits from Woolworths on the same day and it’s basically just a compilation of hits that’s sung and performed by somebody else not the real artists. I don’t think they make them anymore, but as a small boy and with my mum who didn’t seem to know the difference we used to buy them quite a lot. I remember my parents buying one and it had completely the wrong music on it and it had Scottish Sea Shanties and we took it back and they gave us a new one and said we could pick a couple of singles for free – it was a really nice person working in Woolworths that day and that’s when I picked up my first singles.
You set up the dance music division of Rough Trade, which looking back on must be an incredible accomplishment of yours – can you tell us more about your experience doing this?
It was absolutely exhausting and it was at a time when I didn’t really know what I was doing. I wasn’t somebody who thought ‘oh i’ll set up this dance wing’ it just kind of happened. I was brought into Rough Trade because they had this label called Rhythm King who were part of a label called Mute who they distributed, and mute as a label were more of an artsy experimental indie label, they weren’t a dance label at all and they started up this dance label with these two guys, James and Martin who were signing loads of early hip-hop and early house and they wanted somebody at Rough Trade who could understand their music, so I was the person who got the job. My previous experience was working in a record shop, I didn’t really know anything about record distribution or selling records to shops, it was a steep learning curve.
You’ve played for our club night Cirque Du Soul before and always got the crowd going, do you remember the first club you ever went to? Who was playing?
The first proper club I went to was a place in Colchester which was more of a music type night called the Embassy Suite, it was one of the only places in the area which had more of a music crowd with people travelling from surrounding areas sort of 30/40 miles out to come to somewhere with a decent DJ and sound system. The two DJs there was a guy called John Douglass and Gary Soul. I also remember early on winning tickets to an all nighter at a club called The Tartan House on Dave Browns show.
Disco and house music has managed to stand the test of time with countless classics still being sampled and played today. Why do you think these genres have been so successful in remaining current almost 40 years later?
I wonder why myself, I think it’s very unpredictable the way music moves forward and what becomes dated and what stays relevant. I suppose because of the sampler, there’s been a lot of sampling of old records and without it music would have probably gone in a completely different direction, to a degree it’s what’s kept old music alive shining light back on the original songs. Overall it’s a few things not just one thing, but the music was also really good with a lot of stuff that’s still played as there’s nothing really that’s come since which has had the same level of accessibility that’s come since.
Festival season is fast approaching and we’re extremely excited to have you play our new stage ‘Mount Boom’. What can we expect from your set at the festival?
I suppose the same as any set i play, I try to update my sets as I don’t want people to hear me and then hear me again 6 months later and feel like they’ve heard the same thing. It’s a mixture of disco and house with songs people will know and some that’s a bit more off the radar. I’ve been working on some new mixes which i’ll be playing, as soon as I see the crowd i’ll feel their energy and try and make it not too predictable whilst also playing some of the tracks I’m known for. I don’t want to be someone who just turns up and plays loads of big hits as that’s the easy way out, I try to keep it interesting and play some stuff that’s more lowkey it helps to build a vibe.
You’re known for remixing loads of classic songs and putting your own twist on them. Is there any song you’ve wanted to remix but haven’t been able to?
Absolutely loads! When I speak to the major labels to get into their tape archive where the keep all the parts for the songs, they don’t have the parts for 60% of the music. If I send a list of 40/50 songs there’s usually 15 of them where they have the actual 24 track tape meaning I can remix it from that. Sometimes the artist has the tape or it got left in a studio or the tapes don’t exist. There’s also lots of songs you can’t remix, like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson legally as they’ll never approve it and it can’t go past putting it on bandcamp or soundcloud. Do I Do Stevie wonder i’d love to do amongst many others but to do them properly you need to get the multitrack which is really bloody difficult.
You’ve played loads of incredible places so far, is there a particular place or set that you’d class as the favourite of your career so far?
For me my favourite place to play is London and festivals in the UK. On your home turf you know what the crowd know and you’ve got a bit more confidence when you’re djing. I remember once playing in Las Vegas and I played Voodoo Ray and it didn’t work at all because it wasn’t a hit there as much as it was a massive record in Europe. In the UK you’ve got crowd knowledge and what songs are big hits. The venues and the fact that London is a hub of people from all over the world makes it special.
What’s the best bit of advice you can give to a first time festival goer?
It depends on the weather really but i’d say make sure you take wellies and some wet wipes with you and don’t dress up too much, let your hair down and don’t worry about looking a bit of a mess.