Next up on the EDWIN Music Channel is Josi Devil, an enigmatic producer working out of Bristol, releasing music under several aliases including JD, Joe Dreamer and Medrea, all somehow acronyms or variations of his given name, Joe Deamer.
As Josi Devil, he is known for his electronic dub-stepping melters on labels like notorious Glaswegian imprint, Scrub A Dub or the Brothers From Different Mothers sublabel Homemade Sound System from Marseille.
For the EDWIN Music Channel, he has prepared a dynamic, 60 minute ride that overwhelms with a dark, breaking fire from the dancehall, all mixed in an arresting narrative arc. His feverish voyage features old dub gems from the past by producers like Austria’s Stereotyp, UK legend Mark Pritchard (under his Harmonic 313 outfit) and 90's famed Jamaican dancehall deejay, Terror Fabulous.
They all dance along with a highly agitative contemporary, cutting-edge, break-laden dub and dancehall rhythm by Josi Devil himself, alongside London based producers like Kouslin and Dexta, Belgrade based duo, Feloneezy & Cuban Chamber Of Commerce and ragga steppers specialists, Danny T & Tradesman from Leeds, most of them unreleased.
To accompany Josi Devil’s manic magnetic techno style ragga mix, he gave us probably one of the first public interviews of his promising career that sheds some light on his musical upbringing, style influences, work ethics and an alternative look at the music culture of today.
Q. Hey Joe, what kicked-started your musical passion? Please share a bit of your history in relation to music with us.
A. I grew up in a very musical family, so there was always going to be some form of relationship with music. In regards to my first memories of my engagement with music, I remember on my 4th birthday receiving my first guitar which was a child-sized left-handed Stratocaster, I couldn’t work out how to play the thing for at least another three/four years so I used to just plug it into this mini amp that was made out of an old pack of camel cigarettes, I worked out if you pluck a string and hold the amp to your mouth you could create a form of the organic wah pedal, this would keep me entertained until my fingers were stiff enough to push the strings to the frets.
However, there’s obviously a fairly large bit of time until the point I’m at now involved with DJing, producing and composing. What I believe started this path was when I was eleven and I sat listening to my older sisters copy of Skreams “Watch the Ride”. It was ironically the start of my endeavours to entertain the idea of having my own musical identity separate from kids at school at the time and most importantly separate from the music I'd grown up within my family home.
Q. So far you released two EP's as Josi Devil, but you also publish music as Medrea and JD. Could you tell us how these projects differ and what the world can expect from you next?
A. JD is an abbreviation of Josi Devil…but is also an abbreviation of my first and second name. I changed it from JD to Josi Devil, to avoid the many people who confuse me with other artists with identical or similar names but also as a sort of broken note on my mental health/state which at the time was a big issue. In terms of the Medrea projects, I have unreleased material but I'm not too interested in releasing anything under that alias for a little while.
Q. In your own music as well as in your mix, dub, reggae and dancehall are a constant dimension. Where does your passion for those styles originate from?
A. Where the music of dub, reggae and dancehall have been more and more at the centre of my interests over the last four years, in particular, the essence of it has had the most impact in the form of the sound systems and dances I've attended over the years. Its grasp is truly inescapable in the UK.
Q. Your mix has a lot of flavours from breaks to dancehall spheres, ragga steppers, crispy electronic moments and heavy bass attacks. How did you select the tunes? Did you plan it or is this mix a spontaneous affair?
A. There’s been a definite influx in really outstanding and interesting dancehall producers/productions over the last couple of years, and of course without exception this year. But the representation at our clubs is evidently lost in this limbo of legality where governments (especially ours in the UK) are constantly adapting new rules and regulations which are contradictory to those previously unstated; so, I wanted to create some form of ability for people to engage with some of these incredible tracks (most of which are unreleased). I almost always plan recorded mixes, I’m annoyingly picky with how things blend into one another and how these tracks complement the overall direction and narrative of the mix altogether, without planning a mix I think the structure would bug me too much.
Q. How do you feel about the idea that, in 2020, musicians, producers and DJs have to respond to wider political and social issues? Do you think this is a good development?
A. To be a successful DJ I think the idea of having political involvement as a necessity is questionable. I’m sure many can think of plenty of successful DJ’s with bookings filling up their calendar (prior to 2020) with close to no mention of any relevant issues filling our newsfeeds and TV’s. However, the world is changing so fast and making such drastic turns I have no grounds to believe my statement will hold any significance in the next two years. Specifically, regarding clubbing/DJing in corona times. I think as a collective of people involved specifically in the ”underground” dance music scene the crowd is holding those in positions of power responsible for their actions or lack of. 2020 is a year where our nightlife is very much walking a tightrope right now and without protection from those that benefit from it; we are at risk of losing a lot of beloved businesses and performers as a result. staying silent in my opinion will not be an option without consequence.
Q. What's your view on the value of music today? Did it change due to streaming platforms in your opinion?
A. I’m so out of the loop on streaming, I understand so many people do it but I’ve just never gravitated towards it. 70% of the music I listen to in my daily life will not show up on platforms like Spotify, so it just doesn’t work for me. I still buy records when I can, and I buy WAV/MP3 when I have to (I'm definitely no audiophile). But I respect anyone that can get use out of streaming services. I just wish the companies involved were less stingy with payouts for independent growing artists.
Q. Can you name a track/EP/album that's been unfairly slept on in the past month and explain why it is special to you?
A. Kouslins 20:20 Vision EP. He’s an incredibly talented producer, and that record is just so consistent throughout. If you haven’t heard it, definitely go check it out. It’s in my EDWIN mix so I've doubled down on my support for that release.
Q. Who’s your favourite person to follow on Instagram?
A. Shit that’s hard. I’ve only just started using Instagram in the last few months, so I’m properly lacking on that front. But I follow an internet favourite I'm sure most are aware of by now which is “All Gas No Brakes”. I’ll get hordes of DJ’s and labels I follow posting the covers of their latest 12” they are releasing, and then out of nowhere I’ll get a guy swallowing 20 roaches consecutively… (That's the weed roaches by the way.)
Q. If you could spend a night partying with any of your icons, who would it be?
A. I’ve debated this countless times so luckily this one is fairly easy…I’d pick Limmy. A very solid, silly man with musical capability. I feel like he would be the ultimate night out date.
Chokez - Clique
Josi Devil - NNNSUH
Supervisor - Roundness
Kouslin - Sharper
Garum – Jamaican Drum Machine
Terror Fabulous – Man Like Me
Stereotyp feat. Alley Cat - Modern Times
Harmonic 313 – Bazooka Riddim
Josi Devil – Best Survd Cold
Danny T & Tradesman – Dance Haffi Nice (Stalawa Remix)
Ruffhouse – Straight 9's
Josi Devil – Devil’s Dance
Seven Orbits - Sandgrainss
Kouslin – 90 Beat (Warrior Queen Vocal)
Zuli – Trigger Finger (TSVI Remix)
Dexta – S30
Kahn – Untitled
Josi Devil x Kouslin - Virgo
Top Cat – Ruffest Gun Ark (Kahn Version)
Feloneezy & Cuban Chamber Of Commerce – Sensitive Parts
Clarity – Off The Cuff