Producer, DJ, live performer, label owner and all round talented human Joal made his debut on Constant Circles back in 2015 and will soon be returning to the label with a fresh EP, off the back of his debut LP release on his own imprint Perce. We invited him along for a chat and a guest mix on our radio show with Just Her.
Hey Joal, welcome back to CC 🙂 Firstly, what is your background and how did you get into music?
My Pleasure! Super happy to be back. I was born in Azores, a small archipelago of 9 paradisiac islands in the middle of the Atlantic. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in such a remote and isolated place, with only one regional TV channel and no internet at the time, makes you wonder a lot about the world and everything that you don’t have access to triggers your imagination and curiosity. At the same time I was lucky to have older brothers that are also musicians and somehow managed to find tapes of Jean Michel Jarre concerts in the early 90’s. This was my first contact with electronic music in the context of a music performance and that became my obsession.
Later in my teenage years I met 3 other likeminded guys in school and we started to be the DJ’s in all school and birthday parties. From there I jumped into a residency in a local club and then I finally moved to study Audio in Lisbon. Right after finishing my studies I’ve started working as a substitute trainer on a Dj academy in Lisbon and ended up staying there for 5 years as the head of the courses. In 2013 I’ve decided to risk everything and move to Berlin without ever being here before and that proved so far to be one of the best decisions of my life as I’m in a place were I feel understood.
How would you describe your sound – do you think your music falls into a particular genre?
I usually have a hard time to describe it. From one side I have a fear of being labeled in a way that somehow it would restrict my artistic freedom, so I hardly manage to make 2 tracks in a row on the same direction. On a business perspective, this makes it harder to create a fan base but I believe it’s the price of freedom I guess. On my daily life I listen to a lot of music from all kind and this definitely reflects on the music I do but melancholic synth lines and driving grooves are my common ground.
You are about to release your new LP “Among The Others” on your own imprint Perce. What was the inspiration behind this project?
“Among The Others” will be my first album so it is a very personal project. All the 9 tracks of the LP were recorded and produced during the period of one and a half years and my intention was to tell my story so far. This is the first opportunity I had to present something more extensive and deeper of myself, so my goal was to be as expressive as I could about all the influence, emotions and phases I had throughout my life.
The album starts and ends with water sounds and Portuguese lyrics, representing the Island where I was born and where I eventually will end up. Along the way you will find a lot of ups and down’s, from the amazing vocals of my super talented friend Piermaria Chapus (aka P.) in “Black Sun” to the screaming synth lines of “System Output”.
What is your production process – is each project or track different? And what are your key pieces of studio kit?
I always start each project from zero, with just an idea of what mood the track will have. Drums and the bassline are usually the starting point in all my tracks. From there, I try to create the right pieces that fit well together and makes it all work in harmony. It’s like a puzzle of individual elements that only make sense when everything get’s connected and you see the big picture.
I’m a big fan of Elektron and I really love the level of freedom you get on those machines and their sequencers, so Elektron Analog Rytm and the Analog 4 are 2 of my essential pieces of gear. I’m also forever in love with the Nord Lead 2x.
You released your debut EP on Constant Circles in 2015 (has it really been 5 years?! It still sounds fresh!) – what has changed for you since then in terms of your process, your career or your sound?
Time flies! I believe I gained some maturity and consistency in the last 5 years but not much changed in the process. I got new gear for the studio in the meantime and also my taste is in constant development like everyone else but fundamentally I believe my approach is still the same. An interesting fact is that due to “Subsequence”, the track that gave the name to my first release on Constant Circles, I met a lot of people in the business that now became good friends of mine and sources of inspiration.
You often perform live as well as DJing, which do you prefer and why? Are there any challenges with performing live or any tips for aspiring live performers?
I love to perform in both way’s and don’t really have a preference but doing a live act is a way more specific and personal approach, so the risk is much higher if the public or the club is not expecting that. On the other hand, if all goes well, it is magical! Hardly anything can beat the satisfaction of controlling the emotions on a dancefloor with the level of freedom a live act can give you. The nice thing about live act’s is that there is no right or wrong way to do it technically speaking. I guess the main challenge about starting to perform live is to find the right setup that allows you a great degree of freedom, without making it too complicating. In the end we only have 2 hands and 1 head so it’s easy to loose track of everything that’s going on, so it’s important to create some sort of mechanism to go back into “safe land”.
What do you have coming up in terms of releases and gigs (or live streams)?
During this summer I will have a remix for my dear friend Ocean Lam coming out on Moteur Ville Musique, along with remixes from Eduardo De La Calle and Jay Tripwire. I will be part of a VA on Buttress, along with Musumeci, Jably and Secret Factory and another VA on Jack Off, along with Jepe, Freestyle Man, Jakobin, DJ Rocca and Matthias Vogt. On the 24 of July, my album Among the Others is coming out on Perce Recordings. Gig wise, due to the reality we are facing now, I’m not expecting anything any time soon.
How did you put together your guest mix for the radio show & what have you included – any exclusives or surprises?
I tried to make an eclectic set, with a lot of movement and different moments of intensity. I’ve selected some tracks I’ve played a lot last year, like Fabrizio Mammarella’s “Magnesium” and Ghost Culture’s “Coma” along with some newer stuff that I’ve been listening to recently. The starting track is “Pouco Sabemos”, the first track of my album and I also included my remix for Ocean Lam’s “Auditory Touch”.
Check out Joal’s guest mix on on Constant Circles Radio with Just Her: