“I’m Always Looking for a Singular Sound”: An Interview with Joker

Son Raw chats with Joker about his new EP, 'Kapsize,' synths, and studio spaces.
By    September 22, 2017

joker

Since exploding into the international consciousness with his “Purple Wow Sound mix” in 2008 (and even a bit earlier if you were clued into Bristol dubstep and grime circles), Joker has combined videogame funk, English bass, and high concept grandeur, never sticking to one idea, all while maintaining a signature funky-based sound. Following the release of his latest Kapsize single—a return to raw club-centric dubstep—we discussed hardware, sampling, track titles and the new Sonic Mania. –Son Raw


Where was your head at when you were putting together Kapsize? How did it come together? “Mad Knight” in particular really feels like the brightest track you’ve ever released.


Joker: So, all three of the tracks I’ve had for at least a year. I started every single one of them before I moved to my new place where I’m living now. I’m definitely a lot more aware of how the tracks sound, mix-wise than I was before. “Mad Knight” is definitely the best mixed track of the three, which I think is one of the reasons why it stands out. That one was made primarily made all in the box, with a plugin—I think the synth is Serum. I’d spend my time tweaking those sounds inside the box before doing additional processing with hardware, you know?


Your sound has that really funky almost Moog inspired synth stuff, so I’m never sure if it’s made in the box or on hardware.


Joker: I find that people might hear a track and think it’s analogue gear and whenever they say that, it’s all made in the box! I do vary between using plugins and hardware. But whether I’m making the track with a plugin or hardware synth, I’m always looking for a singular sound. Not for all sounds, but for certain sounds I just find they sound better coming from hardware. Something like Serum though, it has to be in the box, compared to something like the Virus synth. I still prefer what Serum sounds like for that digital wavetable synth sound.


Another one that really stood out was “Melkweg Bass,” which has that really stabby, riddim club sound.


Joker: I go through different periods of how I approach tracks production wise. for instance, we just spoke about hardware and software. If I’m going to make a track using an analogue synth, it’ll be me sitting at one keyboard tweaking the nobs, it’ll make the outcome a bit different than if I’m in the box or if I’m looking elsewhere for sounds. While I made “Melkweg Bass,” I was going through a period where I was going through a lot of sampling for my bass sounds. I was trying to find bass sounds and then relooping them and degrading them to discover something interesting. I think that’s why it has a little bit of a different feeling to it.


Both of those tunes feel very club centric as opposed to your longer form projects.


Joker: Well, I’ve only done two, album wise. I guess it depends what the project’s about—for me every single EP and album has a different approach. To come to that sound, I played those tracks testing a few mixes. I rarely do that, but when I changed studios I was testing new speakers so I was learning with that. These ones were started in my old studio but finished in my new one.


How’s the crowd reaction been to the tracks?


Joker: Because I’ll be in the UK one day and somewhere else next week, it’s very different. “Mad Knight,” wherever I played it, just instantly went off, you know what I mean? But music’s moving fast right now, I feel like I’m still trying to understand it myself!


Finally, have you played Sonic Mania? Considering you dropped those Sega Joker Drive projects, you’d probably be into it.


Joker: You know what? I think that’s what I have to do tonight. I want to try to get involved on the music for the music for the next one.