DJOKO: "I Would Like to Keep Making Music in Every Direction"
- Published on Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:24
Infectious, groovy, energetic, deep, driving. There could be many more adjectives to describe the style that the young Cologne-based artist has achieved during the last couple of years, just think to his recent releases on labels such as PIV, Berg Audio and Talman Records to name a few. A swirl of massive house and electro sounds, spacey pads, large drums and 90s dub vibrations that however nods to the future... it's DJOKO! An enviable ability to adapt possessed by the young German, which, combined with a naturalness on experimenting with different genres, made of him one of the most interesting upcoming acts around, being appreciated both by house purists and more electro and rave avant-gardists.
We've been following you for a very long time and we can tell you've definitely made the mess over the last years. Was there a turning point in your career?
It’s been a slow process in general but that’s alright. I never had any goals set so there wasn’t something to meet or disappoint me. Becoming part of the PIV family definitely helped me a lot though. I wouldn’t have done this step if the guys weren’t so friendly and supportive. It’s gotten to a point where it goes over just the music thing and I’ve become close friends with some of them. They are all open for new ideas and concepts and I’m happy to be with them. Also having the HOOVE imprint to run my own events with my friends from Cologne gave me a lot. You meet the DJ’s and Producers you love and make a little connection.
Tell us more about the PIV sample pack and about your latest remix for Chris Stussy.
I’ve done some sample packs in the past already which I sold privately but none of these distributed over an official site. When the guys from PIV had the Idea to start their own series I was keen to do my first official one. There were some things I learned in the process of doing this one. I got some help from DeMarzo who has already brought out several packs in the past and I had a lot of fun creating a pack which I would dig into myself when producing.
The remix was done last year around September when I asked Chris to remix him at some point. I wanted to give something back to him for the continuous support he has given me in the past so when he showed me the track "Seeing & Believing“ I was immediately in.
Your music is a great joint of old school tastes and innovation, how do you find that balance all the time?
I guess it comes naturally by listening to a lot of music from the ’90s. The joint between these two then comes from having analysed the tracks from 2010-2020 precisely and joining them with the older sounds.
Tell us more about the music in the mix you've prepared for us. What shall we expect?
The mix is made for home listening. Not too much dancefloor-oriented, even though there are some heavier grooves featured as well. I like to keep it changing and not too hard especially for podcasts. There are some older tracks in there which I only just (re)discovered & two unreleased remixes from myself for Josh Butler's Origins Rcrds and Lacuna Recordings. Also, it features a beautiful remix done by a girl from my hometown called Sandilé.
Apart from a few exceptions, we rarely see you working together with other artists. What do you think about collaborations?
It’s refreshing to see how other people attack the process of production so I’m always a fan of that. I love to sit down in the studio together instead of sending stems to each other to not interrupt the flow.
Do the best ideas come in the studio? How do you find inspiration?
Sometimes other tracks I just discovered give me the best inspiration. Just a certain element that triggers me where I go: "Yes, I wanna try to do an element like this with what I have".
What are your thoughts about the sampling process? Are you a fan of it?
I sample everything that sounds good. I don’t care where it comes from and have no problem with other people sampling me as well. Actually, I love it and feel honoured if I hear that it inspired somebody. There is no special equipment involved I would say. Anything that Audio Hijack catches is mine haha!
What is the role of analogue gear in your studio set up and workflow? Do you have just analogue synths/drum machines or also compressors, EQs, etc?
Analog gear for me is just like any other piece of gear I have in the box. Except that it changes my approach a little bit on how to start an Idea. One day I would start jamming a little bit on the TR-8s and play some chords to get a rough idea going, and the other day I would sample something from other tracks I love. Most of the times it vanishes into something so little in that Idea that you won’t recognize it in the end.
What is the synth you're craving at the moment?
There are a lot. I always wanted to get an original Juno-106 but these keyboards just cost way too much. If anyone of my friends would sell one at some point I’d buy it but for now, I’m fine with what I have already.
If you would have to get back completely in the box, what would be your top 3 go-to plugins for synths? And for mixing?
My favourite in the box synths would be Rob Papen's Blue, U-HE Diva, Korg M1. Mixing wise I like to just use the stuff Ableton provides.
Which direction do you think house music is taking lately?
I see a lot of artists delving into a deeper direction, not so much using the overused snare tools & white noises anymore. I think it’s becoming more creative and more rooted in the foundation of classic house. I’m happy with how it’s developing lately!
Which are the plans you have for 2021?
I have no particular plans for 2021 except for making some music here and there. I would like to keep making music in every direction and not hold on to any concept which was doing quite well in the past. I would love to plan the next releases with the label but we take our time and not do this too hasty.
Words by Francesco Quieti