With releases due on Avotre and Materials, as well as a US Tour before the end of the year, Josh Butler is really one to watch on the house scene. We caught up with him to talk about his influences, his plans and what it was like supporting Chic on their UK tour.
Andrei Sandu, Bizarre Culture: Things have really kicked off for you in the past few years, but how long have you been making music?
Josh Butler: I started making music when I was about twelve, obviously at a pretty basic level. I was using Music 2000 originally, on Playstation, a little sequencer game. I started messing around with that and then I got into Reason and Cubase and went from there.
I was already into the music, listening to a lot of stuff on local radio stations, Radio 1 and Pete Tong too. There’s always quite a commercial entrance to dance music, but that gave me the inspiration to look further. When I started getting into it, all my mates hated what I was listening to, they were listening to Sum 41 and Limp Bizkit, and now that feels like it’s reversing a lot, dance music is such a big part of popular culture.
BC: House music has gained massive popularity in the past few years, and with that you’ve got more and more producers getting involved. What sets your music apart?
JB: I listen to a lot of different styles of music, and I like to combine every element of what I enjoy from those styles into the music that I make. I listen to all sorts, from house and techno through to drum and bass, reggae and progressive rock. My parents are massive Pink Floyd fans and I was brought up on that sort of music.
Through listening to stuff like dub reggae, I’ve gotten into more dubby house music, really stripped back, echoey, delayed sounds. I’ve spent a few weeks in the studio making that kind of deep, echoey, dubby stuff. I wouldn’t necessarily play that at a festival, but smaller room clubs I can delve a little deeper and satisfy all my tastes.
BC: While we’re talking about genres, you and Bontan supported Chic on their tour in February – March. How did that come about?
JB: We ended up meeting with Nile and we really got on, his manager too is a really cool guy, we just went to the pub one night and it grew from there. It was really tiring to tour with them, we were doing our own Be True tour in the middle of that too.
BC: With disco having influenced house so much, what do you think of Chic looking to upfront music like yours?
JB: What an honour, Nile Rodgers is a legend. He is very up to date with what’s going on – the Martinez Brothers played percussion on his latest record as well. He’s still in the loop and he’s hungry for good music, his passion is still there. He’s produced some of the biggest pop records of all time, and it’s great to see that he’s still inspired by what we’re doing as a younger generation.
BC: How did your DJ sets and the electronic music you were playing fit with Chic’s (obviously) live sets?
JB: Myself and Bontan were doing the Be True tour at the same time, and that was all about staying true to the roots of house music, so we were playing deeper, older US stuff anyway, so it really worked. Disco inspired that, which then led onto the kind of stuff we’re producing today.
BC: So what else have you got planned for the rest of this year?
I’m doing my first US tour in October and my most recent release on Noir, The Essence of House was with a vocalist called Lono Brazil, who was friends with Frankie Knuckles. He spoke to me for hours, telling stories about knowing Frankie, about their experiences in the Warehouse in Chicago in the early eighties. Its an honour to go over to the US and show my take on things.
House and techno originated in the US but the recent resurgence has been very focused in the UK and is now slowly moving back into the US again. I think the US is ready now, they’ve had a few years of this EDM boom and they’re ready to delve a bit deeper into what the UK is doing. The UK’s been the forefront of dance music for years now.
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