Amid a flurry of appearances in Ibiza for Do Not Sleep and spin-off party Cuckoo Land, we managed to tie-down Yorkshire DJ/Producer Josh Butler to a quick chat. Aside from playing in Ibiza he’s been working alongside and remixing for some of the biggest names in the industry. And he’s still got Abode In the Park to look forward to at the end of summer.
Good to talk to Josh. How are you keeping?
I’ve just got to the studio. Got drenched on the way in! I thought I’d push bike it in. But got halfway and it started chucking it down. So I’m looking like a drowned rat!
Nightmare! Well, we’re glad you made it in! What are you working on today? An existing project? Or do you have a blank canvas to work on?
I’m finishing a remix for Joris Voorn to go out on Rejected. I’m just doing a few little tweaks. I finished the demo version last week, sat on it over the weekend, but I think there’s a few little bits which could be better. So I’m just trying to piece it all together.
When you have a demo or an unfinished version of a track, how tempting is it to keep tweaking in a chase for perfection? Is there a point where you’ve just got to say “enough is enough”?
Very tempting. I was actually just thinking about this before we got on the phone. Where do you draw the line – do you know what I mean? I’ve probably spent half-an-hour, 20mins on this – and it doesn’t need much. But I could be on it all day. And then sometimes you can over produce it, listen to it the next day and think that the previous version was probably better than this. Maybe it captures the energy a bit better? But it you meticulously go in for the details they can often get lost once you’re inside a club.
How do you determine whether a track is ready? Do you send it out to friends and colleagues? Or do you trust your own judgment?
I actually tend to listen to it in the car. I’ll stick it on a USB stick and then drive home with it on. And I find that when you’re not looking at the project on a screen - and when you’re focusing on your driving more than the track – it sorta just catches you more in the moment, if that makes sense. Obviously playing it inside a club is the main test. But the car is a big one for me.
How often do you find yourself road testing your own, unfinished material and have clubbers requesting the track ID?
Everytime. Practically every track. I think it’s essential, and that’s, like, the main bench mark. That means it’s finished. If you get people coming up to you. Or if you get a good reaction from the crowd, then it fulfils its purpose at the end of the day.
So we’ve talked about your remix for Joris, but we heard you’re also remixing Carl Cox, is that right?
Yeah. That one’s actually finished. It’s out on 18th August. Cr2 messaged me about their 15 Year Anniversary. They sent me a list of tracks from their back-catalogue. There was a few options. Carl Cox was on there, and it had to be that, really. You know, he’s been an inspiration. For me since I started, and I’m sure the majority of other DJs. It was an honour to receive the parts of that track and be able to put my own spin on it.
Absolutely! I mean, arguably he is the biggest DJ on the planet. He’s had a few of the biggest years of his career. But a lot of the younger generation probably won’t be too familiar with his production work. It must be a privilege to reintroduce his music to this next generation of clubbers.
That’s it! I’ve mentioned it to a few people, and they’ve been like “What? Carl Cox makes music?!” Well, not so much anymore. But he’s been in the game since day dot. He’s got a hell of a portfolio behind him. It’s nice to be involved with that. But I’ve also got a collab coming out with Kerri Chandler on my own Origins label. He’s featured on keys. And Nick Curly has jumped on the remix. So I’m very privileged to be working with this calibre of artist.
Moving onto your summer schedule – and you’ve been keeping very busy. You’ve been a regular for Do Not Sleep in Ibiza again. Let’s talk about your relationship with Darius Syrossian. You’ve got that Leeds connection of course.
That’s it. We met in Leeds, probably six.. maybe even seven years ago now – just around the local circuit. Clubbing around Leeds, you know. Eventually we got together and started to make music. He lived literally three streets away from me at one point. So we ended up getting quite close. We had a mutual interest in producing music. And we’ve just stayed in touch ever since. We’ve grown together. He helped me out with one of my first proper releases. A track called ‘Bass Play’ on OFF Recordings. That was the first collaboration we did.
And you’re playing for Darius again in Ibiza. At Sankeys for Do Not Sleep, but also their spin-off pool party Cuckoo Land at Ibiza Rocks. How’s that been going?
Yeah, it’s been good. Been busy. Every Sunday afternoon it’s been the place to go in San An, and then everybody sort of goes over to Defected at Eden afterwards, where I’ve also had a few dates. It’s been a good move for San Antonio this year. It’s exactly what it needed in my opinion. There’s not really be that much happening there the last few years. But it’s nice to see the more underground artists being booked on that side of the island.
How do you feel Ibiza overall is coping this year? We’re seeing more parties than ever and a few seem to be finding it tough. Has Ibiza’s tourist market diversified? Are there less clubbers on the island than in previous years?
I wouldn’t say there’s less clubbers. Maybe more of a divide? I think there’s more people going there for the wrong reasons, perhaps. To get smashed, rather than go out and listen to music. Maybe more first-time Ibiza goers who perhaps don’t really appreciate what it’s all about. Maybe there is less dedicated music people.
Let’s turn our attention towards the end of the summer, and the big one – Abode In the Park. You’ll be hooking-up with Darius again to play the Do Not Sleep Stage. We just wondered how you approach a festival set differently to how you might approach a club set?
I guess it depends. When I’m doing a show I’ll always get there early and suss out the situation: the size of the arena, tent, or stage – whatever it might be. Who’s playing before me; who’s playing after. What sort of music they’re playing, and how the crowd is reacting. I never really plan a set. So it’s all situational. That’s me. As well as Abode, I’ve also got a charity festival this weekend at Clitheroe Castle. It’s for Beats Cancer. So that’s great as it’s for a good cause. But I love this time of year.