Exclusive Interview: Josh Butler
Young Josh Butler was one of the first contributors to Deep House Amsterdam’s mixtape series and now, a few years later, he’s back with us to take part in an exclusive interview. We bumped into Josh backstage (with his pal Bontan) at DC10’s opening party at the beginning of the Ibiza season a few weeks ago, where it was actually his first time at the world famous club. After a brief chat we decided to catch up again once we had some more time, and so here’s the result of a conversation we had just recently…
What have you been up to lately?
Just ploughing on really; making lots of music, playing lots of gigs. I’m going back to Ibiza next week, which I’m buzzing for. I can’t wait man!
Yeah, you played at Tribal Sessions the other week, how was that?
It was wicked. I played the Spektrum and, as soon as the doors opened, it was full within a minute. I couldn’t have asked for much more. The sound system’s f****** great in there too man.
So, let’s get into your career because you’re not doing too badly for yourself at the moment. When did you start to feel like you were getting somewhere with your music?
Probably about three or four years ago. I had a release on Luke Pompey’s label, Love Not Money, and that was one of my first big(ish) releases. Then I started working with Darius Syrossian on a few things, we had a track on OFF Recordings [Metal]. That was the time when I started to think, ‘I can make something of this’. Things were going to plan. After that was the ‘Got A Feeling’ release… but, I’d been producing for years up until that point. I’ve been making music for about 12 years I think..
Yeah, I think you said that the other night at DC10. I always think, for everyone who’s doing well, there must be so many other people who just aren’t getting anywhere.
I was living in New Zealand and none of my mates over there were doing it. I was the only one making music and I didn’t realise how popular it was becoming over here in the UK, so when I moved over here to start a Music Technology course at college I was shocked at how popular it was; how much it had blown up and everyone wanted a piece. I suppose that motivated me more to make something of it.
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What were you doing in New Zealand?
My mum and dad wanted to move over, so we went when I was 14 and we were there for the majority of my high school years. I did my GCSEs over there and then came back on my own to start with, to go to college, and I lived with my granddad for a bit during that time.
Why did you decide to come back? Was it always the plan to return to the UK?
It wasn’t the plan originally, but I always wanted to do something with music and it was never going to happen over there, there was just nothing going on. The scene’s so small compared to how it is in England, so I thought, ‘F*** it, I’m gonna go back and give it a go’. So I went on my own.
Do you think coming back alone gave you more motivation to really try and succeed?
Definitely. I didn’t want to come all the way here from New Zealand and fail. It would’ve been the worst case scenario! I never expected to make anything of it but I was always trying.
Did you have a Plan B, just in case?
Not really! I probably should have, but foolishly I didn’t. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.
Well, there’s a saying; ‘If you’ve got a Plan B then it’s not even worth having a Plan A’… It’s like, if you plan to fail then you probably will. But if you have no other option but to make it, then you have a better chance of success.
I like that! I suppose it fits. If you’re gonna do it, do it properly. Yeah, I like that.
So now you’re closely allied with Madtech, how did that come about?
That was through my agency. My agent Jim knew the label manager at Madtech, so he introduced me and I just sent some demos over. I’m a big fan of what Kerri does as well so I guess it’s a good home for me. I’ve got some more releases coming up with them later this year, so I’m looking forward to that.
Have you met Kerri yet?
Yeah, I’ve played with him a few times now. He’s such a cool guy, one of the nicest I’ve met in the industry. I played with him in Paris recently and he sat me down and spoke to me one-to-one and talked me through how he does all his soundchecks. He was showing me how he plays syne wave sweeps through the system and finds the troughs in the room. It was cool… educational. What an honour! He’s got a lot of time for people and I respect that, there’s not enough of that around these days.
Yeah totally. And what’s the deal with MTA as well? How did that connection come about?
I just sent demos to them, and they picked them out. I got a phone call from Will (from Chase & Status), saying he wanted to meet me – so I went down to London to meet him and everyone in the office and that was it really. It was a pretty traditional way of doing things.
Do you have much of a plan about what direction you’re taking?
There isn’t much of a plan to be honest, I’m just enjoying what I’m doing and hoping people follow. I just want to keep making the sound I’m enjoying, seeing what works in the clubs and it seems to be going well. Hopefully, my next few records will do well as well. I’m really excited about this MTA one, which will be out later this year, the vocalist we’ve got coming in today is so good. He’s not done many records before but his voice is out of this world – it’s an RnB style vocal, it’s going to end up being just good, classy house music I think.
Lastly, what’s inspiring you at the moment?
I tend to try not listen to house when I’m not producing or playing. I buy a lot of vinyl, but I don’t own many house records, it’s mainly dub reggae, hip hop, ambient… stuff I can chill out to. Music that I don’t understand sometimes, stuff that takes you out of that frame of mind where you’re over analysing things and trying to figure out how they were made. I don’t play any instruments so, if it’s a reggae track, I wouldn’t know how to even begin making that. It’s nice to get out of the producer’s chair for a bit and free your mind up.
I was just listening to some stuff yesterday by one of the guys from dubstep outfit 16bit, he goes by the name of Moody Good. He’s actually signed to MTA. His latest LP is bizarre, it’s still under the dubstep influence but there’s ambient stuff in there and some really twisted dark beats. Definitely worth a shout.
Take That EP [Roush]