Carrying his unmistakable sense for sonic hypnosis, we capture the Tigersushi and Crowdspacer head honcho mid transit.
Joakim is what you call a multidimensional creative. A stand out figure in modern-day music that levitates across its landscapes in many forms and explores the universal medium to the fullest in every way he sees fit. This creative quest – whether it be the recording of his 2018 album during an interactive session at Studio Venezia, delivering mid-tempo Goa excursions with his collaborative Full Circle project, composing the sound design for Chanel’s catwalk show, or any other of his numerous endeavours – have propelled him to be one of the most versatile dudes on the proverbial playing field.
With new material in the pipeline, waiting to be released through Microdosing and his own Crowdspacer imprint, next to a new Full Circle EP coming up on Offen Music, we extended the invite to hear the latest and asked him to capture his vision for a club night in a mix recording. The result speaks for itself; a seamless transition that transcends the various stages of evening in his trademark explorative fashion.
Hey Joakim, what’s been going on? How have you been digesting the whole isolation situation thus far?
I don’t think anyone has digested this yet, might take a while, there’s a lot of deep subconscious feelings involved in this crisis. But I can’t complain, I’ve had a rather safe and privileged situation during this lockdown. Also I’m not the most social human being out there, living like a hermit suits me pretty well. When it started, I thought this was going to be the perfect time to finally focus 100% on my new solo record, but it was really hard to work on anything in the beginning : too distracted, no concentration and more importantly no inspiration. Then things settled in, I almost stopped reading the news and inspiration came back, some days.. So I’ve been mostly cooking – like everyone else, but that’s something I was already doing before every day, I’m totally obsessed with cooking and eating – working or trying to work, reading a bit, watching movies and killing time with RPG video games.
Prior to the covid craziness unfolding you visited NYC for a couple of weeks. Whilst there you played some tunes on Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space radio show. One of the things you guys talked about was your move to Paris and getting your studio set-up. Tell us about that transition. And, with your extensive analogue studio making the transcontinental journey as well, how is the new studio coming together?
Well, I moved my studio to NYC a few years ago, so this was not the first time, but for some reason, it was more complicated, partly because I moved in a smaller space in Paris so I had to find clever ways of arranging the layout. Probably because I didn’t have a place to stay for a while, just airbnb’ing for a few months. Moving the things itself is not very complicated, you just hire a moving company, what’s hard is to pack everything because you can’t leave that to the movers when it’s super sensitive stuff like studio gear. So I spent weeks carefully wrapping and packing everything alone. I had hundreds of meters of bubble wrap in my studio and I don’t know how many cardboard boxes! And luckily there was very little damage upon arrival. The movers just smashed a guitar amp that wasn’t really protected.
I know you have a new Full Circle EP coming up on Offen Music – the collab project that you run alongside longtime friend Alexis Le Tan. As the project’s first EP to land outside of Crowdspacer hometurf, what can we expect? And how did it find its way onto Vladimir Ivkovic’s imprint?
We were thinking that it would be nice to release something outside of Crowdspacer and Vladimir has been a supporter of Full Circle since day one, so it was pretty obvious to send him that new track we did. Full Circle started as an edit project but we’re now doing more and more production on those tracks. The one coming up on Offen is classic Full Circle material, slow, heavy and psychedelic. It’s maybe more cosmic than some. We did 3 versions of the same song, a main mix, a “beats only” mix and an Ambient mix. Now with this Covid situation, I don’t know when it’s gonna come out as vinyl manufacturing and distribution slowed down a lot.
A common thread running through your career, seems to be an ongoing quest for open-minded exploration.. Your recent improv performance for The Vinyl Factory, being a good example of that, as well as your upcoming Cray76 EP – a record solely composed with a TB303 and 808 while in transit between NYC and Paris. Tell us about the process of making that EP.. and what other creative avenues have you been exploring as of late?
Quest is a good way to put it. I think one reason for this is that I get really bored when repeating myself, doing something I already know how to do well, so I constantly look for things to try, to keep it fun but also with this idea that exploring is a way of finding yourself. Curiosity is the key to longevity in music and all creative careers. About that EP, the idea came from the context, I knew I wasn’t gonna have a studio to work from for a while when I left NYC, so I just took a small machine, the TB303. I already had recorded a bunch of 808 beats. And I like this kind of “exercice de style”, a challenge to do with less, much less in this case. And the 303 is such a basic limited machine, but so iconic at the same time, unmistakably present in thousands of tracks. I also love having tools for my DJ sets, so I made those tracks with that spirit. Then I mixed the tracks when my studio was ready in Paris. Those are quite simple tracks obviously, covering different sides of Acid house I like : the raw, the hypnotic, the cosmic…
There’s been a lot of discussion going around about the sustainability of our scene in these times. I’m curious to hear what your thoughts on the matter are.. And what will be your points of focus these coming weeks?
I’m currently looking at moving to the countryside and make cheese. Seriously, I don’t think anyone knows what the future of our scene or even profession will be. What I know is that the livestreams will never replace a club, or if they do, I will definitely change my career because DJ-ing is about bodies being close to each other, sound being loud in one room etc. But it was already barely sustainable for a lot of DJs, I’ve had this conversation many times. There was some dysfunctions lately in the DJ world, not necessarily new issues, just a reflection of how the world has evolved in general in the last decade.
Ivan Smagghe did a pretty accurate analysis in an interview for Vanity Fair, but it’s in French. Basically there’s been a concentration of money at the top, for the “headline DJs” (which means bankable DJs) made possible by a combination of media push + the rise of festivals vs underground clubs disappearing (partly a consequence of real estate greed in big cities) + social media. At the bottom you have countless underground parties, often very exciting but with very small fees if not just a few drink tickets. And there’s not much left in the middle, where a DJ can make a living without compromising certain ethos.
So, maybe this crisis will change this situation, but I doubt it. Like Ivan said in that interview, maybe the “heavyweights” (haha i love the sports metaphors applied to music) will have to re-occupy the mid-tier scene for lack of big events and push aside the middle class of DJs. Maybe the clubs will turn to the new young DJs who don’t ask for big fees to make up for the losses. There might be a return to local scenes if international travel remains complicated for a while, that could be interesting. But I try not to think too much about that and focus on finishing my current projects in the studio. What will happen with that material is a question for later.
Finally, what can you tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for us. Any specific vibe channeled, special bits in there you’d like to mention, etc.?
The brief was to make a set that reflects what you’d play in a club situation. So that’s what I did, kind of, with a rather psychedelic vibe. I want people to feel like they’re high, especially since you can’t dance in a club setting right now, at least you can dance in your head. It starts as if I’m doing the warm up in an empty club, tempo goes up, eventually back down, following a typical flow of how I build a club set, except of course there’s no crowd to give me a feedback, directions. There’s some weirder moments, I like to test the limits of the crowd if I feel like they’re ready for it. It also reflects the general vibe of music I’ve been working on lately and there’s a lot of personal edit in there. And some disco at the end. I usually like to end on a more emotional note, usually a song with a melody, lyrics you can remember when you wake up the next day.