Joris Voorn. Pete Tong. Annie Mac. Kerri Chandler. Steve Lawler. Heidi…. What is the common denominator between all these selectors? They are all a fan of Josh Butler’s extremely infectious tech house.
His appeal is such that disco legend Niles Rodgers personally invited him to be the official warm up support for his UK tour that year. But it is his collaborations with fellow producer Bontan which stands out the most: their collaboration ‘Got A Feeling’ turned in to one of 2013’s biggest selling Beatport tracks, and their recent bomb, ’Call You Back’, is still sitting tight on Beatport’s Top Ten charts after a healthy stint at number one. And now it’s finally Australia’s turn again to enjoy the hot topic producer when he arrives in couple of weeks.
With his national tour set to kick off this Saturday at The MET in Brisbane, we caught up with him to chat about house music legends, production masterclasses and more…
SR: Hi Josh, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Where exactly in the world are you now and what are the plans for the rest of the day?
JB: I’ve just got back from a long weekend in America so I’m in London for a couple of days before heading to Brighton Music Conference. I’ll be doing a couple of panel talks there on music production and DJing. The rest of my day will be preparing for that, as long as I don't get distracted by videos of sausage dogs on the internet.
SR: You will be touring Australia very soon, but it won’t be your first time. What are your fondest memories about Down Under and what are you looking forward to doing once you arrive?
JB: I absolutely love coming to your part of the world. I grew up in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand so it’s always quite special for me heading back to Australasia. Some of my best memories are hanging out in Melbourne and Sydney as I have a load of friends there. I’m going to be spending a few extra days over there this time as well to catch up with people and do some typical tourist stuff.
SR: Origins Rcrds is the new label you started last year, and so far it has featured collaborations between yourself Todd Terry, Robert Owens and Marshall Jefferson. With you approaching ‘heritage' acts to collaborate with, which sorta falls in line with the label name (acts that originated around the birth of house music), do you have any other collaborations with originators lined up? Was this the concept you had in mind for the label?
JB: Thats exactly right, I’ve been fascinated by the roots of House music for years and always wanted to dig a little deeper in to some of the stories. I feel that the majority of new generation Djs don't know or maybe even care for the history of where our music came from. So I’ve kind of taken responsibility to help educate the younger crowds and bridge the gap between generations.
I’ve been lucky enough to become friends with some of the originators such as Marshall, Todd and Kerri, so it all started by the off chance of seeing if they wanted to work on some music together.
I have one more collaboration sat waiting to go that I’ve done with Kerri Chandler. I'm really excited to drop this one :)
SR: Last year you mentioned the then upcoming collaborations on your label with Kerri Chandler, Marshall Jefferson and Todd Terry, if there ever was a House Music Hall of Fame those 3 artists would surely take centre stage! How did you guys work together in the studio? Or were it more of a collaboration online?
JB: Marshall and I managed to spend just under a week together in a wicked studio in Cheshire called Castle Rock. When I first started producing music it was in my mums back bed room on the family PC. So going from this to working with one of the pioneers of House music in a multi million pound studio was a crazy experience! As for Todd, Robert and Kerri we did these over the internet as they were based in the States and on quite a heavy touring schedule.
SR: In 2014 Bontan remixed your track ‘Got a Feeling’ into one of that year’s most successful remixes (if not the most units sold). As of writing you are once again sitting plumb at number one on Beatport, another collaboration with Bontan called ‘Call You Back’ on your own Origins Rcrds. What is it about you and Bontan collaborating? And have you considered to never again work without him? ;)
JB: Music has always been about more than just making and arranging sounds, it’s about having a personal connection between the people that collaborate. That's very apparent in forms of tribal music, you can hear the energy and connection between the people and they’re playing instruments.
Although our music is obviously pretty far removed from that these days I believe still having that energy is so essential when working on music and that's why mine and Bontans records seem to come together so easily and people relate to them. We’ve been friends for the best part of 10 years, even before we had any success with our music careers.
We’ll definitely be doing some more collaborations and probably always will.
SR: You just finished a whirl wind tour of America. What was that like? And did you get the feeling that EDM might just be in the finals stages of its existence?
JB: 100%! Especially in the venues that I’ve been playing over there. The underground side of house music is becoming so much more present there. Again, part of the reason I started Origins is because the kids in America don't even realise that House music was born in their country.
SR: You were recently asked to host a production masterclass at the upcoming Brighton Music Conference, the UK’s most prominent electronic music convention. What exactly will your masterclass focus on? And how do you feel about teaching aspiring producers? Is this something you have done in the past?
JB: So far I don't really have a plan of what I'm going to focus on during the class. I’m just going to have a jam on Ableton and try to get an interesting groove going. I did do a little bit of production tuition a few years back at the stage when I wasn't making a living of my own music, but was reluctant to get a full time job. There are a couple of people I taught who went on to do quite well and I believe have recently played a couple of gigs in Aus themselves ;)
SR: And finally, what is your hot top for producers to watch out for?
JB: I’m a big fan of Stefano Esposito, he's making some real authentic sounding US House music. Also Mark Jenkyns who maybe isn't so unfamiliar to people as he works with Hot Creations, but he is making some fire at the moment!
Friday 5th May: Sugar, Adelaide
Saturday 6th May: The Met, Brisbane
Thursday 11th May: Barmuda, Queenstown
Friday 12th May: Revolver, Melbourne
Saturday 13th May: Burdekin, Sydney