Interview: Joshwa, The Breakthrough Tech-House Artist You Need To Know

Josh Dickens, better known as Joshwa, a breakthrough underground tech-house producer in the UK, has taken his passion for music and culture and let it ripple across the electronic dance community.

Initially gaining recognition for his first major release, a tech-house remix of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You“, released on Glasgow Underground in 2018. Nothing has slowed Dickens down in establishing his own sound and throwing the grooviest parties all over the world. Recently making his USA debut on the west coast at EDCLV, he also came to Tampa, Florida, to party with us at Sunset Music Festival this Memorial day weekend. Escaping the Florida heat, Joshwa invited us in the AC for a cold Corona and to chat about how music has become his life.

Photo by Emily Harvey/EDM Maniac

EDM Maniac: What is up Josh! Welcome to the east coast! what a journey so far from Denver to Dallas, to your first EDCLV. Is this your first time in the US?

Joshwa: Hey there, thank you so much, it has been a ride already. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to get to know the wonderful dance community that is over here. I have been to the US before, I went to New York for a week to explore, but this is the first time the music has brought me over here, a completely different experience I still can’t believe it sometimes.

EDM Maniac: Wow, that is so cool you’ve been here before touring. You have both perspectives to be grateful for. So you’ve been here for a week now. What has been your favorite part so far? Have you had a proper welcome to America moment yet?

Joshwa: Haha, yeah! Actually probably when I was in Vegas I stepped out of the hotel the very first day I was there and this guy dressed up as Elvis was on one of the electric scooters and he came charging at me screaming “hey you, with the flowery shirt!” and I was like “run.” It was literally a big Welcome to America moment.

EDM Maniac: Haha! That sounds about right, I’m glad you were able to escape.

Joshwa: Yeah me too! I also almost lost my luggage on the way here. I picked up someone else’s bag by mistake. It looked identical to mine. I had to go back to get mine, but it was waiting there for me. So could have been worse!

EDM Maniac: Close one! I’m glad it was easy for you to get yours back. Yep, sounds like you have been in America! haha. So where are you originally from?

Joshwa: I grew up just outside of London, I live in London now. Been there for 3 or 4 years now.

EDM Maniac: So cool, a true UK boy. That has to be so cool to live in London. What has been your favorite place in the world so far?

Joshwa: Oh yeah my love for London has been a big part of who I am. Mmmm, favorite place in the world? Uhhh… Obviously the US! Hahaha

EDM Maniac: Haha! You don’t have to say that but we will take it! I’m glad we have been welcoming enough for you to say that. So growing up in London, what influenced you to start producing?

Joshwa: I reckon I was about 8-9, I was in my IT class and was supposed to be learning about excel and I stumbled across a program called “Dance Ejay 4” and just started messing around. Making loops obviously made the sickest track ever. Haha, it was probably terrible. That was really my first experience with dance music.

Photos by Emily Harvey/EDM Maniac

EDM Maniac: Wait, we need to hear that track right now! haha… I think it’s amazing you were taking IT classes at 8-9 years old as well.

Joshwa: Haha! No way! Even if I still had it, I would never show you. I’m actually going to open with it today, hahaha… But yeah, I don’t really know. My dad use to play trance CDs in the car. There was one called ‘Rush Hour’ it had a lot of remixes on there like Airscape remixing “Silence” by Delerium and Quincey & Sonance Remixing U2’s “Beautiful Day.” Just got more and more into it after started listening to Pete Tong on the Radio religiously on Friday nights. Started researching how DJs and producers touch people through music, and watching youtube videos it started snowballing from there. By the time I was 13 I redownloaded Dance Ejay again and realized I needed to get a better program if I was going to take it seriously and yeah started making EDM.

EDM Maniac: So you never stood a chance with any other genre. Your dad was properly teaching you from the start. I love how you developed a passion and then ran with it. What do you think has been your biggest music inspiration?

Joshwa: I really listen to all music. I think it is important to do that. You need to be exposed to the different grooves, melodies, and rhythms. I listen to a lot of classical music, I also like to listen to movie soundtracks. When you listen to all different genres you can bring elements in from all over when making your own track. It keeps things developing.

EDM Maniac: Yeah I agree with that, you are giving yourself no limits when you explore all realms of music.

Joshwa: Exactly, I tell ya what, Traveling and watching other people perform influences me as well. Going to gigs and listening to other DJs. Seeing and hearing people create their own energy and style is super inspiring.

EDM Maniac: That is an awesome perspective to have. Feeding off each other and allowing yourself to grow by getting inspired by other people’s success. I know two people who have shown you a lot of love are Lee Foss and John Summit, can you elaborate a little bit about how their support has influenced where you are today?

Photo by @Harisnukem

Joshwa: Yeah that’s been pretty crazy. I remember it vividly, I sent Lee my jingle “Party’s Jumpin,” which was sort of my introduction. It was right before COVID so he basically sat on it for a year and then when we were able to play shows again, he started playing it out. I remember John and Lee did a Livestream together and Lee played it and you could see John saying “what is this?” That was a really big moment for me. Now “Party’s Jumpin” is out on Repopulate Mars, it just sort of spiraled from there. The love I have gotten from them has definitely helped people find out who I was in the US, I have been able to create my own thing with my US audience it has been amazing.

EDM Maniac: It is such a good thing to see people use their platforms to push other amazing artists, your found fits right in with both John and Lee’s vibes so it was only a matter of time. Is there any artist from other genres besides electronic that has been an influence of yours?

Photo by Emily Harvey/EDM Maniac

Joshwa: That is a really good question, um… I wouldn’t say a specific artist but I get heavily influenced by world music. I love to sample tribal drums. I really just have a constant need to explore music so you never know what could be inspiring me at the moment. World music is such a big category but music from all over the world inspires me every day.

EDM Maniac: I know you’ve been labeled as tech-house, would you label yourself as that?

Joshwa: Oh yeah Definitely.

EDM Maniac: Do you think that’s what you’ve always considered yourself or did it, over time, form into that?

Joshwa: So I used to really be into EDM like Swedish House Mafia and Avicii when I was younger. I got exposed to house music at university in my early 20s. I got more and more into the house scene in the UK. Then it just kind of snowballed into tech-house, I was like “Oh shit, I really like this energy.” I liked the groove. I was like I want to produce this.

EDM Maniac: Getting into UK house in your early 20s had to be an amazing time. I think tech-house is such an amazing genre solely because of how easy you can mash other genres into it.

Joshwa: Yes exactly, especially when the sample is so nostalgic. You can connect with anybody.

EDM Maniac: You did that with “My Humps,” such a classic.

Joshwa: Thank you, yeah I got the attention of an older crowd with that one, which is amazing.

EDM Maniac: You just dropped a new single titled “More Money Girls,” can you tell us what inspired the making of that track?

Joshwa: Basically I used to listen to a lot of grime music as a kid, so UK grime like, so that’s sort of where the vocals come from. Always loved grime music. I used to watch a video channel on tv called channel U, which was all UK grime and really underground stuff.

EDM Maniac: I love that you have always loved UK grime and just went for it with a song. Channel U sounds really cool as well, all we had was MTV in the US growing up haha.

Joshwa: Haha it is cool, that is totally where I got the inspiration from. I had the beat. I just downloaded a massive pack of acapella. Stumbled across this sample dropped it on the beat, and was like “Oh shit, this is bouncin’ haha”

EDM Maniac: You did a great job of capturing the true UK grime feel, I love that there is a history behind the sound for you as well. So if you could play one place In the world where would it be?

Joshwa: Probably Ibiza. I’ll be there this summer on Tuesday nights at Eden. I think the energy is unmatchable. Everyone comes for the same thing, to be free.

EDM Maniac: Your energy would be perfect for that kind of party, this is just the start for you in Ibiza. Music is your life now but has it always been? Or did you focus on something else as a passion?

Joshwa: I also used to play professional football. I played center half. I played in Chile for a year, that was a wild opportunity.

EDM Maniac: You have lived so many lives, so awesome. The last question I have for you is, what has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

Joshwa: Meeting and seeing such amazing people. Other humans inspire us in ways they don’t even mean to and are able to travel around and play house music for the community. It is just so nice.

EDM Maniac: Music is healing in so many ways and one of the main things is the connection it brings to your life through other people. I’m so glad you have experienced what hard work can do for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us get to know you, we look forward to watching you blossom over time!

Joshwa: No thank you, it was a pleasure. I will see you guys around the world and it will be a party when we do run into each other. Thank you again for all the support.

Photos by Emily Harvey/EDM Maniac

 

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