Jozef K on Tribal Sessions and Ibiza’s Undying Magic

Manchester-based Tribal Sessions resident Jozef K sat down with us after his set at the 2016 Bugged Out Weekender to talk Sankeys, Radio 1 and Ibiza.

Bizarre Culture: How did you get involved with Sankeys, and what is it like being a resident at an institution like that?
Jozef K: It’s amazing. I always used to go to Sankeys as a kid, I’d sneak into Tribal Sessions when I was seventeen because my older brother used to tell me about it. To fall in love with it as a clubber then become one of the main guys behind it was quite a crazy transition.

BC: How long did that transition take?
J: Do you know what, surprisingly not that long. When I went in there, I just thought, this is for me, this is my domain and I want to be a part of this. After one of the Tribal Sessions nights, they gave out flyers offering work experience in the office, so I applied for that and luckily I was chosen out of 200 applicants. I started working in the office, and though I enjoyed learning about the industry I found it really difficult at times – I always did it with the ulterior motive of becoming a full time DJ.

One night, one of the usual residents for Tribal, Mistress De Funk, was unable to play and I was requested to play warm up. Sankeys’ owner David Vincent and original Tribal Sessions resident Greg Vickers (my DJ mentor) both approved of the set and increasingly trusted me with more sets. I took my chance and slowly the gigs became more and more regular from there.

BC: Have you become involved in the creative direction of Tribal Sessions at all?
J: I used to bring booking ideas, but often my booking ideas were not the best in terms of drawing a crowd. I used to run my own party called Continue, where we booked guests that I really liked, but nobody had really heard of them so the nights were often quieter than we’d hoped. The people I like don’t necessarily crowds people to the night, and I don’t think I’m a good promoter because I’m too often booking guests with my heart. I think I am better off playing the music.

BC: How did your back to back set with B Traits come about?
J: That was one of the highlights of last year for me, going down to the Radio 1 studios – it was quite a surreal experience. While I was doing it, I was so focused that I didn’t take it in, but once I returned home it really sank in that I had recorded a mix for one of the most listened to house and techno shows in the world.

She had been playing Tribal Rhythm on her show, a record I made with my production partner Winter Son out on Kim Ann Foxman’s label Firehouse (which we hope to release another record on at some point!). I messaged the show’s producer to see if he would like us to record a guest mix and he suggested a back to back set instead. B.Traits was really sound, made me feel totally at ease and had a wicked record collection, she plays a lot of techno and I didn’t know if our styles would contrast too much, but the set flowed really well and was really cohesive, which isn’t always the case playing b2b – especially having never done so before.

BC: So you’ve been to Ibiza with Sankeys for a couple of seasons now. Had you been as a punter before DJing there?
J: Yeah, I went when I was 18 including a visit to DC10 in its heyday. I found living out there as a DJ a lot more relaxed than visiting as a punter – you feel like you can take your time out there instead of just being on this crazy adventure. I settled into a routine and it became less about the urge to go out every night, as it is when you’re only there for a week. It was certainly more chilled out than a season I did there when I was 21 and spent ten grand of inheritance money. That took some getting over!

BC: Did you notice differences between playing to a crowd out there and one back in Manchester?
J: I always feel that my sound in Ibiza is brighter, and more colourful. In Manchester, the stuff I play is more intense. Everyone’s happy out on the island, whereas Manchester is a moodier place and you can feel that. The first time I played a more ‘Manchester’ sound out in Ibiza, I saw instantly that it wasn’t what the crowd wanted.

BC: How do you think Ibiza as an island and a party destination has changed since you were first going out there?
J: Everyone loves to moan about how things were always better in the past, but for me I don’t think Ibiza changed as much as people think. It’s always been a magical place – it was a hippie haven long before house music.

Even with the rise of places like Croatia as a festival spot – often with the same DJs that might be playing Ibiza – I don’t think that magic will ever disappear. There’s more to it than dance music, theres a relaxed side to the island which I think you find once you’ve lived there. Obviously there’s the crazy party side which everyone has heard about, but the reason to so many people return is because of the surreal beauty, the other side of the island which is so peaceful and tranquil – that’s why I think Ibiza is here to stay.

BC: To wrap up, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
J: I’ve have tonnes of new music coming out, a vinyl only EP just dropped this week on Chiwax, which is a hardware jam with me, my production partner Winter Son and Perseus Traxx.

I also have an EP forthcoming via Acid Test which has been one of my favourite labels for years, and another on Skint, Fatboy Slim’s label with a remixes Argy and Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie too, this drops March 20th and looking forward to receiving test presses for those next week! There are quite a few other releases in the pipeline I haven’t put pen to paper on so can’t announce just yet.

In addition, I shall be touring shows as part of my ongoing Tribal Sessions residency, playing Fire in London and Sankeys Manchester until the summer, then Ibiza every Saturday for six months. I can’t wait for that, our longest ever Ibiza season. Tribal is going from strength to strength in 2016, with many shows coming up around the UK, Amsterdam and my second tour of China, so lots to excited about at the moment.