If you're a fan of electronic music, you've likely found your taste have begun to change over the years. I know, I know: that wasn't a particularly profound statement. Taste in culture is as sure to change as the weather, we all understand that. But maybe you've found yourself attracted to lower BPMs recently? Maybe loving sets from guys like Dusky, or Fehrplay, where not a single big-room, dutch-influenced house track is dropped? If so, you shouldn't be alarmed because you're certainly not the only one. While many of the traditionally popular genres of "EDM" have recently seen a decline, other genres have come in to fill the gap left. Progressive, Techno, Tech House, and Deep House have seen a meteoric rise in popularity in the last few years, and with many of the big EDM labels now hosting their own "deep" music sub-labels, it doesn't look like the deep music trend will end any time soon.
If you're like me, you might be looking for someone to thank for this rather pleasing transition in electronic music taste. Well, look no further than Anjunadeep, one of, if not THE, premier label for all things Deep. Founded in 2005 by Progressive Trance icons Above & Beyond as a sub-label to their Anjunabeats home, Anjunadeep has consistently churned out some of the most melodic, well produced deep music for almost a decade. Now, set to release the sixth edition of their compilation series, the label is more relevant than ever. Recently, EARMILK had the opportunity to sit down Jody Wisternoff, one of the men responsible for the compilation mix and many of the best progressive and deep tracks around, whether by himself or partnered with fellow English producer Nick Warren as the duo Way Out West. While Jody has many things cooking for himself, he was more than willing to discuss a myriad of topics with us, including the label, future music endeavors, and the state of deep music in general. So with Anjunadeep poised for big things, read on to get a glimpse into one of deep music's leading talents.
EARMILK: So Jody, Anjunadeep Vol. 6 is coming out, and I can't wait to give it a spin. Let me ask you first, what made you decide to again, do the mixdown with James Grant?
Jody Wisternoff: Basically, we figured it was the best way to get around the fact that we were just fighting over tracks all the time. Because obviously, all the demos get linked to all of us, and we tend to put all our subsissions in the same pot. So if something's really hot, we all want to use it. Sometimes, if there are artists that I discovered or brought in, then I'll get first dibs on them, or James gets first dibs on guys he discovered, and so we were like, "Wow this might actually end up in fisticuffs" you know what I mean? [laughter] Like, in-house conflict.
EM: Never good when Mom and Dad are fighting...
JW: [chuckles] Yeah exactly. So there's got to be a solution to this! So yeah, we came up with this cunning plan. And I think it's great idea, because it takes a lot of the pressure off, and we can bounce ideas back and forth, and we were able to make it more of journey as well. The whole comp can start off on a deeper tip as well, instead of us trying to outdo each other with our power hours, you know what I mean? So we can take it easier, and really make it a musical journey.
EM: Cool man. Yeah, I noticed that too with the mini mix, even it had its own sort of flow. You had the deeper stuff, then moved into techy stuff, then into proggy stuff… I assume we can expect that with the full comp too?
JW: I mean, if anything the flow of the comp is even more coherent than the mini mix. The point of the mini mix was really only to showcase the stuff on the comp, and it's really only like a minute of each track. I didn't actually put it together (and I'm not sure who did it), and it gives a wicked reflection of the comp, but the mixes themselves, you can't really express the full body of the songs, you know? It's more of a mega mix vibe and it definitely works well. The guy that did it, he did a really good job on it honestly. James and I, we're so close to the tracks, and it's hard to edit out a minute or so of each song. So to get an "outsiders" perspective on the songs was really interesting, and a really valuable approach. He smashed it.
EM: For sure, I was really I impressed with it. So let me ask you, what are some of the selections that you really love? I mean, I know you obviously love every song on the comp, but what are some that are particularly near and dear to your heart?
JW: Well I'd have to say the "Hollow Talk" remix that the three of us [Jody, James Grant, and Lane 8] did together, because you know, it was like a completely different way of doing things. It was a like a threesome - metaphorically speaking, of course.
EM: Of course.
JW: The original song "Hollow Talk" is fucking incredible man, it was such a great idea to get in there. You know, it actually started off as more a bootleg edit than anything, but the guys at the label were able to get the full parts and the stems so we could really go to town on it.
EM: So basically you're saying you sent a bootleg to them, and they liked it so much they sent the stems to you?
JW: Basically it was all James' idea originally, and he suggested it to them, and I think he requested to do an official remix of it. So it came from that, really. And obviously The Bridge [British TV show] is huge in Europe, so it made sense. Actually I had never really seen that before, where a TV show's theme tune is that good, and we all want to make a remix. And suddenly we have the chance to do a proper remix of it, and I thought that was so dope. I've been playing it out at gigs for the last month or so, and obviously it's a highlight of the set. Shit goes absolutely off. It's got this haunting kind of vibe, you know?
EM: I'll be honest, I don't know anything about the British version of The Bridge.
JW: Oh shit man! There's an American version I think, because the British version is subtitled. But I think there's an American version, you should check out. I don't think the theme song is the same though. [laughter]
EM: Well I'll have to check it out. But yeah man, what about another track you did on the comp with James and I think Shingo Nakamura?
JW: That song is dope too. That song is slightly more James' style, you know, like his traditional sound, the more melodic proggy vibe. So that was one of the tracks James came in with and I was like "yeah!" So we got in there and gave the drums more groove, and the overall track more edge. It was an absolute pleasure to work on it. And I've got a solo single of mine, "Paramour" on the comp and I don't think it was on the sample, so hopefully that'll be a pleasant surprise for everyone.
So it's cool man, I just really enjoyed getting together with the guys and making the whole thing more of a collaborative effort. And it was wicked to get together with Lane 8 as well because he's like someone I signed from the last year, and it's great to see him doing so well.
EM: Oh man, you brought him in? You need to give yourself a pat on the back man, because he's recent stuff is out of control good, "The One", his remix of "Liberate"….
JW: Well thanks mate. [patting sound] Can you hear it? Patted!
EM: Awesome man. Well it sounds like Anjunadeep Vol.6 is going to be an awesome collection of deeper stuff. Let me ask you about deep house in general. And not just deep house, but the deeper sound of electronic. Have you seen the chart Beatport recently released, showing the top selling genres of the last 10 years?
JW: Yes! I saw that this morning actually.
EM: So you noticed that deep house has had a really large spike in the last few years…
JW: Madness isn't it? Isn't it the highest selling genre at the moment?
EM: It actually is, yes, it's currently 2014's highest selling genre, with tech house and techno second and third.
JW: That's so mental, isn't it? Which is good –
EM: It's crazy man! I remember three years even, it was all about the dubstep sound, and you'd play a deep house cut and people would stare at you funny!
JW: Like, "What the fuck is this shit?"
EM: Yeah, and now everyone's all like, "I love Nicole Moudaber" and shit [ED note: we love Nicole Moudaber], and of course all the guys on Anjunadeep, you, and Dusky, and Lane 8… It's just crazy. So what do you think of this?
JW: It's fucking mental, isn't it? Because you know, deep house used to be like, Room 2 music, you know what I mean? Like, warm up stuff. There was no way you were gonna drop a deep house tune during peak time. Too risky, you'd lose the floor! Now, the peak time DJs come on and drop the BPM even LOWER.
EM: Yeah, it's crazy man. So why do you think it's so popular now?
JW: Well it's interesting you know. At first it kind of worried me, you know, because there might be a backlash. You know, as soon as something becomes "mainstream", or viewed in that way, it means that at some point it'll go out of fashion, as well, which is a shame. But then I thought, whatever, fuck it. I mean, a lot of the stuff that gets classified as deep house now, I'd traditionally call progressive house anyway, as in melodic house music, with a journey vibe, you know? And obviously progressive house isn't really used much these days, because that's what a lot of people consider "EDM" now. Or Trance kind of thing. But it's good to get that melodic sound back.
EM: Yeah, totally. I feel like that's what used to be considered house music. Now I feel like the stuff that doesn't sound like the big room, EDM sound, a lot of people just write it off as a Deep House tune. But Deep House is bigger than that.
JW: Like, basically, think about this. Armada recently launched Armada Deep. Let that marinate man. I mean, that says a lot, right?
EM: Yeah, that's crazy.
JW: Yeah man, it says so much, like, we're onto the right thing. It's what people are down with, which is great because it means people's taste and evolving and changing. People are into a sexier groove, something a little warmer, and more melodic. Maybe becoming conditioned and growing up… which is all good stuff really. A bit more refined.
EM: So you think this "new" popularity, do you think it has something do with EDM fans "growing up"?
JW: It's definitely possible, right? But then, "EDM" has only been around for a few years, so I guess they all hit puberty, had a massive growth spurt!
EM: Yeah, every EDM fan hit puberty at the exact same time.
JW: The entire EDM fan base.
EM: Well it's all good man, I've been around for a while, and I know you have. It's awesome to see these genres doing well now.
JW: It is. And it's a testament to sticking to your guns, you know? Although I wonder why breaks are so unpopular now, really?
EM: It's funny you say that, because I was going to ask you about one of your Way Out West songs, with Nick Warren (you guys are some of my heroes, btw). Your old track, "The Gift", right? It's the beautiful, ambient track, I'd almost classify it progressive breaks. It still sounds f*cking amazing today.
JW: Yeah, thanks. And that's cool right? The genre could make a comeback, it just takes someone popular right now to make a really good breaks track, and then everyone will hear it and jump on the bandwagon [laughter]
EM: Or… There could be a Way Out West reunion…
JW: Oh man, we're so busy, but trust me mate it's happening. We're working on the 5th album. But we're not stepping back into that sound though, we're not making 136 [BPM] tracks with breakbeats, because that's not what either of us is really feeling at the moment. Just to be honest about it.
EM: But wait, you're telling me you're making a new Way Out West album?
JW: Yeaaaaah man! It's going really well too, we're balls-deep in it. We've been working on it for the last few years really, on and off, and we just kicked into it again this year. It's got some laser tracks on it, a bunch of tracks on it. Some of them are going to go toward Way Out West, some of them are going toward my solo stuff. It's all getting there, whatever man, just keeping it together really, testing out stuff at gigs. Yeah man, it's coming.
EM: I know you're both really busy, but man, this news just made my week.
JW: Ah, nice! Yeah, Nick and I did a gig out in Camden recently, but he ended up getting sick. He actually ate some dodgy oysters, and yeah, poor guy.
EM: Ah man. Well hopefully he's feeling better now.
JW: Yeah, he's fine now, so it's all good.
EM: So back to deep house being super popular now; do you think this will equate to more deep house DJs getting into the DJ Mag top 100? Does that kind of thing even matter anymore?
JW: Hmmm interesting. You know I don't really even think about that thing anymore. Maybe like 3 or 4 years ago I was concerned by it, you know, I was doing the little kind of advertisement, the interesting post on FB and whatever, trying to get people's votes by being creative. But I haven't even bothered with that shit for like the past 4 years, really, since the outcome of the charts has become so bemusing to people. It's lost a lot of it's relevance I think. But maybe if it all suddenly changes again, and people that I consider hot are back on there again, then shit. "We'll get the f*cking PR machine kicking again." Garner some votes or something.
EM: Yeah… funny you say that. Almost every week I get some DJ posting on FB about voting for them in the DJ Mag top 100.
JW: Right? I mean in this day and age it all looks a little desperate, doesn't it?
EM: It definitely can. But it's like, I never really see that from anyone in the Anjuna family, honestly.
JW: Yeah, we don't play that game, honestly.
EM: And yet the Anjuna family is still kicking ass, doing some really awesome things. I remember when the sub label first started, it was really just a handful of dudes, and now it's grown to almost 100 or so artists on the sub label.
JW: Yeah, it's really exciting, and the release schedule has been really consistent too.
EM: So do you see the label growing even more?
JW: Oh for sure man. More music the better, yeah? I mean, hopefully we'll be doing a lot more touring, and a lot more branded nights and stuff. It's just the beginning honestly.
EM: Cool man. It's really nice to see Anjunadeep on its own really establish itself.
JW: Yeah, its really nice, because Anjunadeep is cultivating it's own unique identity now, you know? As a force to be reckoned with, honestly. And I think, even a few years ago, no one was really taking the label seriously because, like you said, it's just a subsidiary label. So yeah, I think it was like, for a lot of people, just something on the side…
EM: "This is when Jono, Tony and Paavo want to play the slow stuff", kind of thing…
JW: Well I wasn't going to say that but you just came right out and said it so that's fine… [laugther]. But I mean, I'm not those guys, the whole thing was possibly an experiment at the beginning, you know? But it's clearly going very well. And it's wonderful to have those guys at the top of the pyramid, and they're one of the superpowers in electronic music. I think they even enabled the label to grow in certain ways, you know what I mean ? So it's a really good thing to be aligned with people that have that much pulling power, and to have their backing, and their blessing, it's a gift. I'm very grateful to be pulled along with this machine. So now, we just have to do our thing, get the music hot, and pull the right artists in, and from a personal stance, I need to write the best music I can possibly make, and keep evolving really. That's the key, and that's the plan.
EM: Well sh*t that's exactly what I want to hear. I mean, all these labels now have their "deep" sub labels, Armada Deep, Spinnin' Deep, LowRide Recordings… etc. But Anjunadeep was really one of the first!
JW: Yeah man, we were the first! Honestly we were the first people to coin the phrase Deep House…
EM: Yeah… I don't know about that… [laughter]
JW: [laughter] yeah… NOT.
EM: But my point is, Anjunadeep was one first to really focus on deep music, you know, Deep, Techno, Tech-House, etc.
JW: And it's not even that deep! [laughter] But you know what I mean? It's like, not shallow… but…
EM: Well yeah I know what you mean. Is it like that old school Techno, DEEEEEP stuff… But it's really melodic, evocative music (at lower bpms of course)…
JW: Yeah man, exactly. I think that's exactly right. "Deep" maybe not always in production or sound, but "deeply emotion" is a good way to think about it. Not experimental, jazzy deep or something, like Rhodes piano or something. And I hate to call it "mainstream" but maybe more easily understood deep, you know what I mean?
EM: Totally, man.
JW: Every track that we put out, the track has to be emotionally loaded. To get past AR, it has to get by 4 pretty discerning guys. Plus, we have to play it in the office, and people have to vibe off it in the office.
EM: Well I think it's a real testament to the staying power of your music.
JW: Thanks man. You know, I think it also is just a natural fit for me as well. You know, when they came to me… I think the first track I put out for the guys was "Lassoo" a few years ago, and it was like, "yeah. This is a nice place to really align myself."
EM: Well you obviously fit right in man, So much that you're one of the main bastions of sub label now. You have this comp coming out, mixed by you, and moreover, you're playing at Anjunadeep's stage at Tomorrow World. How did that happen? That's pretty cool that Anjunadeep, and not Anjunabeats, has its own label.
JW: Oh for sure man. I mean I didn't have any say in it whatsoever, aside from the fact they asked me to play and I was like, "fucking yeah" and its wicked man, its kind of its own movement right there, yeah? Because generally, in the past you look at the stages and its an Anjunabeats stage hosted. Creamfields, etc… and it's all good vibes but its really nice to see the Anjunadeep guys getting in there a a little bit, and getting piece of this festival pie. I mean, I've done some warmup stuff for Above & Beyond before obviously, and I tend to go on first because my BPMs usually work that way. Our show at Ally Pally [Alexandra Palace, one of London's largest concert venues], it worked that way. But the deep crew is taking it this time, so that's wicked. So hopefully it's the beginning of many. It'd be nice to really keep this thing rolling.
EM: Yeah man, hopefully we can have an Anjunadeep stage at every festival.
JW: I think that's the plan really, that's where we're heading.
EM: So for you personally, what's next. What does Jody Wisternoff have coming down the pipeline?
JW: The single I've got on the comp is "Paramour", and that's coming out in October. That'll be out with some other tracks I've got coming up. And there's a remix of Danalog coming out that I'm pretty excited about. He's from South Africa, and he's another one of the guys that I helped bring in. Very good. Laser tracks man, knee deep in some awesome tracks. I'd like to get back in the studio with Lane 8. I wouldn't mind getting in a collab with Journeyman too. It's debated who discovered them, me or Dom, but I absolutely love their track on the comp.
EM: Awesome man. Well last question I always ask; anything you want to say to the fans out there reading this?
JW: Just pure love and good vibes. Huge, huge thanks to everyone that's supporting us, and all that good stuff! Sorry my Soundcloud just disappeared; I'm going to get back on eventually, but for now, most of my stuff is on Mixcloud, so check me out there.
EM: Of course, will do. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me man, really appreciate it.
JW: Thank you, and see you at TomorrowWorld.
Thanks for taking the time to read. Make sure you grab yourself a copy of Anjunadeep Vol. 6, and check back in with EARMILK for all your Deep House needs.
Anjunadeep06: Mixed by James Grant and Jody Wisternoff