“When music is put together it is a very powerful thing” – Interview with Joey Anderson
As an artist whose musical roots come from dance well before DJing, Joey Anderson is someone who bears no boundaries when it comes to genres. He has a sound that is so unique it can only be described as one of his own. Originally from Hobokin New Jersey, he currently runs his own label Inimeg Records, has released two full length albums on Dekmantel, and has numerous well received EPs such as 1974, From One Mind To Another, and more recently Dozen Roses to name a few.
Galerie Project spoke with Joey Anderson on his musical beginnings both as a dancer and DJ, as both have had equal influence on the music he produces today. He also gives us a peak into the foundation of Exchange Place; a time when Joey Anderson, DJ Qu, Nicari, & David S would meet up to exchange vinyl & jam on the decks. Golden Record NYC is hosting an event tonight featuring Exchange Place and we highly recommend attending. For more details click here.
Galerie Project: When I was in college I did dance improv & modern dance. I got into the music scene in the early 2000s. When I would go out I would see dance circles & people who were really into the dance aspect of the music culture. I loved seeing that and I had a lot of friends who would break dance. Before you were Joey Anderson the DJ & Producer, you were formally a dancer. What inspired you to get into dance?
Joey Anderson: You mentioned 2000 and I go back before that. I’m a Hoboken kid in New Jersey, a very urban city, and it’s right across from the river. Back then people were more into social things; playing basketball together in the streets, baseball, dancing, you know what I’m saying? So seeing other dancers from my neighborhood, like all of my cousins, and from going to local school parties; Besides athletics I wanted to do what I saw them doing and I wasn’t a dancer really. I guess with PlayStation, the way it is for kids nowadays, online games you know? Playing online is like what dancing was for us. Dancing, playing basketball, sports, playing all kinds of neighborhood games, physically you know. That was the culture back then. Young people were dancing all over the place, in the streets, and it was cool if you could dance. So my cousin and I just wanted to learn how to dance, and I was like 13 years old.
GP: That’s cool. I definitely caught the tail end of dance culture.
JA: Yeah, you got the very tail end of it. It’s hard to describe. I remember in the 2000s when I was going to Japan, because of dancing. No, the first time I went was in 1997 to do a dance show and teach dance classes; and I was shocked. Imagine seeing kids practicing how to dance in front of the Empire State building. Back in the 80s you saw crews walking around the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. Guys were just break dancing all over the place and practicing. When I went to Japan in 97, they were dancing everywhere just like how it use to be back here. By 97′ it was already changing here but in Japan it was fresh and just starting off.
“One of the best things out of all the years of going out and dancing was when everything clicked, when I felt that I had enough language to be considered a dancer.”
GP: When I look back and compare dance culture to how it was back then to how it is today in regards to nightlife, to me it is two different worlds. In your eyes, since you lived it, how does dance culture compare back then to how it is today?
JA: Back then it was a lot about reputation and street credibility. As far as dancing in the clubs you know? Also it was about self expression, dancing to the music, and spiritually feeling it. Nowadays you have similar things in its pockets but there is a very extreme difference depending on where you’re at. Where you’re at globally, what genre of music, or what party vibe in the club you know? There’s a lot of sexuality going on. The reason why I say that is because I remember when I was a teenager going to clubs, besides meeting maybe one or two people that were naked, and when I say naked I mean dressing provocatively; it mostly wasn’t like that. Nowadays when you go to a club it’s like letting it out there and doing your thing, the music is third. It doesn’t seem like dance is straight up. Everyone isn’t dancing because of the love of music and it seems like everything else is before that. That is one of the biggest differences that I see. Generations change, what becomes relevant and important changes naturally. That is one of the biggest differences that the generation I’m apart is when I was going out in New York. Everybody wanted to show that they were dancing and a part of that music. They just wanted to show that they were a part of it.
GP: What were some of your best experiences or more memorable moments when you were actively dancing?
JA: I’ve been going to clubs for so long that I can’t even say. There were some very good nights, there are many places that were good, and many places that weren’t good. For me what was most important was actually learning how to dance with skill. The clubs were my practice grounds. One of the best things out of all the years of going out and dancing was when everything clicked, when I felt that I had enough language to be considered a dancer. All I wanted to be was a good dancer, you know, so that is was what drove me. So after all this time, it took me years, I just remember that feeling when I was honest with myself and everything felt right. I was like, I got it! I finally got it. From then on it was another chapter, but that was the most memorable thing for me out of all my years dancing.
GP: You got to the point in dancing that you felt like you got there, you got to where you wanted to be, and you could freely express yourself anyway that you wanted on the dance floor without any limits.
JA: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly it. To each his own but sometimes something may look like it’s something but that doesn’t mean that it is it. Do you understand what I’m saying?
“Good music is good music. It didn’t matter if it was 140, 135, 126, or 118 bpm you know?”
GP: Yeah I definitely do. It’s rare to meet a DJ with a dance background. What made you move from the dance floor to the DJ booth and also get into music production?
JA: I started around 2000 or 99’. I got married and had two daughters. I stopped going out you know, but always liked to keep up with different kinds of underground radio stations and music. My friend used to come by, his name is Derek Andrews, and he would show me new records that were coming out on vinyl. To stay connected I started going record shopping and became addicted. I only had one record player, but I wanted to start learning how to play. So, I bought a cheap turntable and mixer then started practicing at home. At first I didn’t know much of what I was doing and was just putting two records together to make tapes. I would record tapes out of the records I was buying and I would just listen to them, and dance at home. My friend Derek would play over the records and record, always recording. Then later as time went on I met up with DJ Qu, Nicari and also David S (David Salizar) and for years they were meeting up but I never knew it. Then they invited me over there while they were mixing records together, I went over there and I fell in love with it. From there I started getting serious and it was a lot of fun. They were blending records and I didn’t know how to blend like that, I didn’t know the concept of matching a record. I didn’t know anything about that but I was learning then.
GP: So as much as it was about the music there was also a big social element involved. Could you elaborate further on how that experience shaped you as a DJ?
JA: We would go to Davids house, he had equipment. David’s a sound engineer, so he has a lot of experience with that. We would just talk; talk about the records that we heard and knew. One was talking, the other mixing, then they would mix out, the next person is getting his records ready and we were always happy with talking about how our week went, things like that. Talking about the sounds of a record, talking about the ranges of a record, and constantly mixing you know? Telling each other where it sounded fucked up and where it didn’t sound fucked up. If it was a dope mix, it was a dope mix. It was like a school almost, but a fun school you know? There was no time to think that you knew what was coming next because everyone had their own style and every one was trying to play from new dope records, it wasn’t all the same. It was like holy shit he just changed it up and I kind of feel like I still think that way when I play. I like to go up, down, and across the middle, then back up, back down, how the way life is you know?
GP: Exactly. Like telling a story.
JA: Yeah, that is the way life is. That is what I love, besides the dope ass music. When music is put together it is a very powerful thing. It’s like reality but not reality. All imagination. It could be science fiction or it could be fiction. It could be sad or it could be happy. It could be masculine, feminine, or everything about life; that is how I see it.
GP: Back when the internet wasn’t as prevalent as it is today; the only way to hear music was to go to the record store, play it, and share it with your friends. Do you think people are as open minded about music today?
“I never envisioned that in a million years I’d be doing what I’m doing now.”
JA: I’ve been following this music for a long time and it doesn’t feel like a long time. But, for me I have to look at reality and I have been following it for a long time. I used to listen to underground radio stations and record them. If you look at the music genres now, it’s all techno, techno-house, deep house, underground, italio, dub, dub techno, broken or whatever; I understand why it is necessary but back then there weren’t any of these genres. Even then some would have fallen under a category, but they were all played together. The DJ played these tracks together, there was no one saying that this was this. Good music is good music. It didn’t matter if it was 140, 135, 126, or 118 bpm you know?
GP: What are some of the things that you’ve learned from dance that you’ve translated to DJing and music production?
JA: When you’re dancing, for me the best nights were when the music was played in a way that you were able to illustrate everything that you were capable of dance skill wise. Like I was saying earlier about the music; the ups, the downs, record build ups, and another record dropping back down. Different speeds and movements of life. I used to like nights like that and I think I carry that in my music sometimes. Again, telling the story. For me it is one of the things I appreciate the most: a beginning, middle, and end.
GP: Being an artist with such a unique sound that stands on its own, for me it’s hard to describe the music that you produce. It has a lot of emotion. It speaks out and tells a story unique to you. I really enjoyed your album After Forever on Dekmantel and have a copy in my vinyl collection. What would you say was the inspiration or mindset behind that release?
JA: There were a couple of tracks on there that I had done years before they were of course on the album. There were things that were new to me that I was messing around with at the time, and I was like wow, I wish I could dance to this vibe somewhere, get wide open you know? Another thing, I was thinking about my daughters a lot. I can understand why people may not see it, but there was an emotional part that had a lot to do with my daughters that came up in the set. That was on my mind a lot when I was working on the album. There were these melodies going on and you know I’m a melody person. It may be hard to decipher, but everything on that album and in my head, my daughters were relevant in the voice of it. I’m glad you like it, I’m glad you got it. It was a very good success.
SG: I’m really happy for you, it had great reviews and you did a good job with it.
JA: It’s really weird, you know? I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now. Production came later in my life and I’m really happy with how things have turned out. I’m happy, I don’t need to be anymore happy. I just wanted to be able to play the music I love and cherish, play it for masses of people. I never envisioned that in a million years I’d be doing what I’m doing now. I always thought I’d end up in the crowd.
SG: The path of life lead you where you are now organically. You were doing what you love and going after things that interest you. Living life on your terms.
JA: Yeah, all the things that interest me are all in that album, every sound you know.
SG: That is pretty much all of the questions I have for you. Thank you for your time!
Check out one of the more recent sets by Joey Anderson that he did for NVA Montreal:
Have something to say? Feel free to add your voice.
Leave a Comment
Join the conversation. Come on, lets hear it folks.