Life is good for Joseph Keevill. With a production career that started back at the turn of the millenium, personal battles enforced a hiatus that has kept him off the map for a decade. However, nothing like the path of the tortured artist to add a single minded focus, and Joseph has battled and soared, bursting through to the light at the end of the tunnel and beyond.
His live show bustles with energy, a combination of pre-recorded loops and live tinkering, sequenced together with fluid improvisation. Ideally experienced in the bustling club environment, it has been encapsulated on the Live On Cubism series.
Since the first entry, Keevill has been snapped up by some impressive imprints; My Favorite Robot, Detone, Wiggle, Monique Musique have all fallen under the charm of one of the most approachable and earnest figures in house and techno. Outside of the confines of the club world, he has become a father (a tribute, For Jacob, features on his Monique Musique EP), and is living the good life with his fiancé, who also provides the artwork for Live On Cubism.
The demands of the circuit and of a freshly created mini-Saytek are incredible, but the wonderful Mr Keevill managed to spare as a few moments to talk about the forthcoming second volume of Live On Cubism.
Since the first Live On Cubism, you seem to have gone from strength to strength, notching up appearances on some heavy hitting labels like My Favorite Robot and Detone – how exciting has this explosion in interest been for you?
Yeah, its been amazing. After spending many years focusing 100% on my live show, I have finally had the opportunity to release music on some really great labels. I’ve had some success in the Beatport charts with a few top 20s in the deep house, tech house and techno genre pages, plus numerous other top 100’s. I never intentionally try to make anything that charts or is popular, so I’m very pleasantly surprised when it takes off. I’m very lucky the labels I have worked with have allowed me to be musically myself, and its great to be releasing on such a variety of great imprints, working on a variety different styles.
Live On Cubism straddles the lines between DJ mix, live performance and artist album – have you ever been tempted to make a straight up track by track album?
I probably will at some point, but I love doing the live album thing, creating a continuous piece of music that tells a story. It’s how I make my living and it’s what I love most. I feel it allows me to put my heart and soul into my work, in a different way a track by track album would, as the final thing is made in real time. It’s very hands on and intuitive. I love doing that!
Or do you ever feel tempted to make a departure from your signature high energy house / techno sound, to explore other sonic templates?
A good electronic record has always been my first love. When done right, it can contain just as much emotion as a good traditional song and create feelings like no other genre. Also, as a big technology geek, this style fits my mentality perfectly as I have both a technical and musical mind. Having said that, I have been making a lot more experimental deeper stuff recently, as well trying different more leftfield genres.
What sort of preparation do you go through to make something like live on Cubism?
Well, first up it’s about coming up with ideas, loads of ideas! Fundamentally, it’s the raw building blocks of a track… the same way as you would for a traditional record, but rather than arranging them I strip it all down to its fundamental elements – kick, clap, hat, bass, synth, vox, fx – and then throwing this into the loop pool to be triggered live. On the hardware, I create patterns that can be muted/unmuted and tweaked live, so the whole thing is arranged right there as I perform. I also create a lot of the music, drum patterns and synth lines, live during the performance, manipulating samples into all sorts of crazy shapes.
You’ve actually been involved in the scene for quite some time – how do you find the current political makeup? The EDM dismay, the deep house bickering…
Yeah, its all quite amusing if you ask me. As long as I remember there has always been the commercial side of dance music that is disliked by the underground – whether it was pop rave, trance or hard house. The EDM explosion is nothing new apart from its American source. I think its a good indication electronic music is doing well on the whole.
As for the ongoing deep house backlash, I can be quite outspoken on people ruining perfectly good genres, but these trends come and go. I just wish they could think of new pigeonholes rather than bastardising dance music heritage! I love underground house and techno, and that’s been around for many years, and my guess is it will be here for many to come.
You’ve recently become a father, how do you find managing the strains of performing and creating with this?
Yeah, I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard work! I have felt pretty tired a lot of the time, but strangely enough I have managed to stay very creative and my output is higher than ever! Fatherhood is amazing and life is good, even if I have to live with burnout for a year or two !
At what age would you feel it is appropriate to start teaching the fundamentals of side-chaining and APC40 templates?
From birth of course!
What does the future hold? More production and touring?
Yeah, just to continue making the music I love making and hopefully lots of touring. Nice and simple!
Saytek’s Live On Cubism Vol 2 will be available on 16th September via Cubism.