Joe Morris creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. His openness to a wide range of sound is what has both made him a widely loved favourite, but also someone who operates in his own parallel musical world. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases.
When and how did you get your interest in electronic music?
I was lucky that my formative years where music started to become a real interest coincided with the acid-house explosion in the North of England, so that naturally led me on a path of discovery to electronic music. From there it’s a pretty typical story; buying a pair of decks and spending more time than is considered healthy in nightclubs for the next twenty or so years.
How did you decide to get into production?
Like most producers it was just a natural progression from DJ’ing. I’d experimented in making music when I was much younger but I didn’t have the concentration or dedication for it, preferring to spend my time on the dance-floor and in nightclubs rather than in boring studios learning confusing equipment. That said I think a prolonged exposure to club music in a live environment was as good an experience into the mechanics of dance and electronic music as any other.
What is your criterion when you are producing? What inspires you?
I tend to follow my mood as best I can and try and capture a feeling. Of course I listen to a lot of electronic music most of the time and that naturally infects and inspires me when it comes to being creative in the studio. Recently however I’ve tried to get away from taking inspiration from other artists and try to be creative by following more of my own ideas and feelings; which hopefully results in a purer sound.
How do you assess the trajectory you have had and what were the reasons that led you to start it?
I’m not sure what trajectory I’ve been on, if any. I’m just a guy that likes music and tries to put my own little stamp on it, and hopefully people like and take notice of it. After 25 years of doing this hopefully I’ve reached a stage of knowing what I’m doing. There’s always room for more learning though.
What was your criterion when producing your last EP?
The new EP was born out of a collection of about ten tracks. I decided to focus on gathering as many new ideas together as possible before considering a new release, which never normally happens. Usually I tend to try and produce three, maybe four tracks during a project that might fit well for an EP, then push them out to labels and repeat the process. Also I wanted to move away from the downtempo, chill-out sound I’ve been working with the last couple of years and focus on a more vibey, dance-floor based style for this collection of tracks.
Could you recommend a set that you are especially proud of, and that we can see on your Soundcloud or on YouTube?
A couple of years ago I started a mix series called ‘Shades of Sound’, the aim of which is to encompass the different styles, or ‘shades’ of music I like. The series is a pretty broad palette which kind of distils what you’d hear me play if I were given a long set with an open minded crowd. It’s gained a nice little following, with folks anticipating the release of each new edition which is nice to see. I’m pretty proud of them. Check them out here:
What can you tell us about the scene of your city? What would you improve?
Well right now the scene is non-existent like most cities in the world due to this dreadful Covid situation; so who knows what it’s going to look like once it’s over. I think the previous night-life landscape isn’t going to revert to how it was before. Hopefully it’s going to change things for the better. Leeds has one of the most vibrant club scenes in the UK, but it can be a little one-dimensional at times. I’d like to see less reliance on big name acts and more open mindedness, with more opportunity given to home grown DJs and collectives. There is a lot of great talent here; we don’t need [insert big name DJ] to rock the party.
Finally, what can you tell us about your present and future projects?
I’m focusing more on my own projects for the time being; writing new music which may see the light of day on my new Shades of Sound label or maybe other labels. Maybe some of that material might formulate into a new album, we’ll see. The Covid lockdown has given me pause to think about what I want to do musically, rather than constantly chase a new release on an established label. Hopefully post lockdown I’ll have a bunch of new music ready so we’ll see where that takes me. I do have a new collaborative project coming up soon however which I can’t talk about yet, so watch this space!