Razor-N-Tape: When you started this musical journey, did you ever think it would go this far?
Joey Negro: Definitely not! In fact when I first semi-bluffed my way into a job at a London record store in 1986, I wondered if I'd last more than a couple of months. I was qualified on the basis of musical knowledge and had loads of enthusiasm, but lacked proper work experience. I managed to avoid the sack and after a year in the shop I got a job at Rough Trade Distribution. This was in the exciting early days of house, hip hop and rare groove. I was really worried about losing the job and ending up back in my home town of Clacton-on-Sea unemployed.
Kleeer Tonight's The Night (Joey Negro Tonight It's Partytime Mix)
How was working at Rough Trade at that time?
Initially there wasn't enough for me to do on the dance side of things, but the workload finally got heavier with each new label coming on board. I'd established myself within the company and was able to start a label with Rough Trade as the backer, but it wasn't like I had a career in music yet. I was also in the studio working on some of my earliest material at that time. When Rough Trade went belly up in 1990 I realized that I could make a living from releasing my own records.
Was it a difficult move to make?
You can never be complacent. Dance music is a fast moving industry with constant changes stylistically with young DJs and producers coming along everyday. Clubbers are also a very transient bunch, who often stop going out once they do the family thing. The biggest change has definitely been the internet and the impact that has had on the way we consume music. I don't think anyone saw that coming, well apart from Steve Jobs (laughs). I'm lucky I was around in the days that you could still make a decent living purely from releasing music on indie labels and doing the odd remix. It's bloody tough for young producers now. You have to rely on djing and its much harder to make that step to leave your day job, so you can concentrate on your music.
Reese Project Direct Me (Joey Negro Disco Blend Mix)
You have deep roots in both disco and house. What came first for you? Is one style closer to your heart than the other?
Disco! Chic, Donna Summer, and Earth, Wind, and Fire were some of the first records I bought. However, when house arrived I was 22, in London, and going to some pretty cool parties.
Over the years you've assumed many different production names... What's the reason behind the pseudonyms? Is it focusing or freeing to be able to produce under one of your producer names as opposed to another?
I get asked this question a lot. I first started using pseudonyms because I thought my own name was a bit boring to put on a record label. Being brought up with disco producers like Patrick Adams having records under a multitude of act names it seemed natural and fun. Also, by using a pseudonym when signing with a label, you can record with different labels using different names.
Joey Negro & The Sunburst Band In The Thick of It (Z Records)
We all know that the nightlife scene can sometimes be filled with a vast array of 'characters' and 'experiences'. What's the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you while DJing?
A delayed flight had caused me to arrive really late to this enormous club that I was playing at in Moscow, so I wasn't briefed on anything. I'd been playing for about 10 minutes when I got this weird sensation, I thought I was hallucinating or about to pass out. I turned around and realized we were going up, but the lights guy was just pressing buttons and oblivious to the movement. I didn't know beforehand that the stage could move up and dow. It was a crazy ten seconds.
It's been more than a decade since you played NYC. What was your best New York moment, musical or in general?
I was visiting in 1988 and passed by the Rough Trade USA office on Broadway, I'd mentioned to someone that I was a record collector and had been hitting all of the used vinyl stored. They sent me to Hi Tech on Bleecker St. I remember being there for almost seven hours the first day and went back the next day and spent five more hours flipping through records. It seemed like every third record was something that I really wanted, most of which were probably common in the USA were pretty rare in the UK. Most of it was super cheap like $1-5. I recall at one point being hunger, with a dry mouth, and past due bladder, but I could not stop flipping through those racks.
Friday April 4, Le Bain presents Razor-N-Tape featuring Joey Negro, JKriv and Aaron Dae. Doors 10pm. The Standard, High Line.