Hot Right Now: William Djoko
If you are aware of the ever-spectacular Dutch scene, then William Djoko is a name that will keep popping up. He has emerged as one of Holland’s greatest exports and has an impressive CV, with residencies at clubs such as Studio 80 and the historic Trouw.
William Djoko does not set himself limitations with music policy, but instead can dive into any aspect of dance music and be able to express this effortlessly within his sets. His infectious persona behind the decks, along with excellent attention to detail in the studio provides any dance music enthusiast the perfect ingredients for a great night of selections. We caught up with William ahead of his residency at Junction 2, to discuss his early beginnings in dance music, his Trouw Residency and much more. Enjoy.
“Hi William, Thank you for taking the time to speak to us at Data Transmission, I just want to start by asking you about how you initially got into dance music.”
“Well ever since I was small I always wanted to be an entertainer, I know it’s strange to say but I think I was born to entertain. I’m getting loads of flashbacks right now… there were times at school where a musical instrument would be bought into class and I would always play it differently than the other kids, I always wanted to make a show.
I became involved in many scenes within Amsterdam, such as the amazing Hip Hop scene here, and then I naturally got into dance music from that, by meeting likeminded people and going to parties and after parties”
Did you breakthrough by constantly gigging or was it through the producing area that you were able to gain success?
“Well before I was a solo artist I used to be in a live group called Jason and the Argonauts. We were highly influenced by the Minimal scene so people from Perlon and of course Ricardo and DJ Koze. We were a kind of click house act, but at the time nobody was doing this in Amsterdam so we gained attention quite quickly.
We stopped playing in 2011 and went on to other projects. I guess I started playing more in new spaces & parties just by being friendly and getting to know people. I would make sure I got to know the promoters and organisers of the event and then eventually I was starting to get more gigs.
You have been resident at Trouw in Amsterdam for a number of years and are now LWE’s resident can you discuss your residency there and how it came about?
“Well Trouw was a fucking great after, set up the club Eleven was shut down, and Trouw opened in a new and different location. It bought a different crowd and the reputation did not come overnight. I was there from the beginning and was lucky enough to gain a residency there. It really provided me with the opportunity to grow and find myself as an artist. The sound system was dope and the after parties were where I was able to discover new music and my direction. I was supported by many other venues before Trouw too, so I have to shout out Studio 80. Those guys supported me massively back in the day”
Trouw is renowned for its knowledgeable crowds, do you think that the Dutch scene as a whole has made it easier for you to transfer your sound across Europe?
“Most definitely it has made it easier, I like to think that I am the type of person that adapts to the situation at hand. I think that is because of the people that I used to hang out with particularly at the Trouw afters. I was introduced to international sounds, I hate to use this phrase but it was all a natural progression for me. I could go from the super leftfield Perlon sound to UK Bass and everything combined in-between”
There have been many DJ’s who have thrived as Residents. Do you think it provides you with more freedom when playing?
“For me the resident DJ used to play all night, so you could really learn how to adapt to different situations and crowds, so you do have that freedom. Nowadays the resident DJ is different. You normally get giving the opening slot or sometimes the closing. Although I am used to performing I still get nervous before, so what do I do?… Crack a joke” (Laughs)
You have released records on some impressive Labels, such as Tuskeegee, Rush Hour and Strictly Rhythm, can you give us some insight on releasing for such prestige imprints?
“It was amazing! For Rush Hour and for every label I have released on it has just been about meeting people at the right time, it opens doors for you. I go back to what I said before, hanging out with people in the scene, making sure you get to know the promoters and wider team, it all provides the opportunity to do what you want to do”
Has the Internet affected your output as an artist?
“It has both massive positives and negatives. I mean it has definitely made things much easier, in terms of communication and accessibility but, it can have a massive effect on your self esteem. I think this social media thing is getting out of hand now though. There is a lot of pressure for artists to keep up. I think I am pretty good with my online profile, but where does it stop?
After interviewing other artists from Amsterdam I have discovered the strong sense of community within dance music. Can you discuss why this is?
“Everybody knows each other in Amsterdam. Unlike London, Amsterdam is pretty small – you can get everywhere by bike. You see some DJs with records that just cycle from party to party, it’s much easier to get around here. Having said that, the competition here is fucking strong! I mean you have to really bring it and be consistent to be successful”
Going back to LWE you are due to play the Junction 2 launch very soon, can you give me your thoughts on this and why you believe the festival has such a good reputation within dance music?
“Well it will be my first time playing for them since Printworks. What I’ve seen so far – it looks dope. The LWE team know exactly what they are doing, so I am really excited. They have, as I say, ‘the chops’ (Laughs), I mean they bring quality, they get all the best artists and their lineups always make sense. At the moment they are one of the best promoters in the UK”
You can really see your personality when you play is it the performance aspect coming out.
“Most definitely I always try to interact with the crowd as much as I can. I always get involved with them and its not just at gigs that I dance my ass off. I mean I do it when I’m mixing at home – it’s just the way I am. I don’t want to use the word ‘take them on a journey’ because its so overused, but I like to be able to be in the journey with them.”
I get you, from a personal point its really nice to see that from a DJ, I think it makes it much more personal and intimate. To end this I always like to give the opportunity for the DJ to recommend some artists that they are feeling that us at DT are not aware of.
“Well at the moment I am really feeling Hessle Audio’s Joe. He is producing some really eclectic stuff and the sets I’ve been hearing are all amazing. I need to shout out Tracy from Voyage Direct; he’s releasing some really good stuff so definitely check him out. There is an artist called Philou Louzolo from Rotterdam that is making noise in Holland at the moment and, of course I need to shout out Carista from NTS/Redlight Radio”
William DJOKO plays at Junction 2 Launch Party on Saturday at Tobacco Dock, with Adam Beyer B2B Ida Engberg, Scuba, Dense & Pika, Fractal, Nina Kraviz, Luke Slater, Paula Temple, Black Amiga, Orpeu The Wizard, Jamie Tiller – you can grab tickets here