Sep 10, 2014
interview
Jody Wisternoff

Jody Wisternoff has been part of the scene since the late ’80s, gradually working his way to a leading role alongside James Grant at Anjunadeep. We caught up with the Bristol legend to discuss the past, present and future of house music, his studio gear, and his work with long-term collaborator Nick Warren as part of Way Out West.

Danalog - Click Search (Jody Wisternoff Remix) [Anjunadeep]
LessThan3: You’ve been on the scene a while; you started out in the ’80s?
Jody: Late ’80s; I’m not that old!
LessThan3: In that time the scene has changed a lot, particularly with the dance music explosion in the US. Do you see this trend as something unprecedented, or is this just another phase for the scene?
Jody: If you look at, say, the explosion of dance music in ’91, when the Top 10 in the UK was made up of dance music and rave music, we’ve kind of already witnessed that. Then we also witnessed the crash around 2005, when Musik Magazine shut down and it was a bit “doom and gloom” for a while. A lot of people fell by the wayside then, but it was mostly people who weren’t really in it for the long run, so it kind of separated the wheat from the chaff a little bit.
LessThan3: Do you think something like that can be good for the scene?
Jody: Yeah, Darwinism I suppose. A little bit of a cull, without wanting to sound too bad! I’m not going lie to you–it’s not easy to make a living out of doing this sort of thing; it is a labor of love. There can be times where if you’re writing and you haven’t put anything out for six months, the gigs start to dry up a little bit, and the money needs to come in, otherwise I can’t feed the family. It’s a balance between keeping in people’s consciousness and being in the lab and producing. While the scene might be going through ups and downs, you just have to crack on with it. It’s interesting at the moment with the whole deep house thing; it’s almost like it’s having its own turn.
LessThan3: Do you think it’s good that a sudden rise in popularity, for example with deep house, can bring new people on board?
Jody: It’s better than it being ignored and not selling at all. A lot of the music that’s going under the title of deep house isn’t really deep house. It ranges, though–a lot of it is peak-time to me, some of it is just straight up house.
LessThan3: I suppose it’s a bit like when trance had the peak in late ’90s/early ’00s. It was driven by the more commercial stuff.
Jody: That’s how things work usually, but you do need to be aware of the backlash, which can only happen once something becomes over-exposed. If something is advertised as peak-time on a Saturday night, then you’ve reached maximum exposure, so the backlash can be a little bit of a concern. You just have to stick to your guns in that case, and maybe you’ll become fashionable again–give it 20 years!
LessThan3: So you’re still working with Nick Warren as Way Out West and there’s an album in the works–what sort of sound can we expect from that?
Jody: It’s got that worldly kind of sound, interesting layers and textures that seem to happen when we get together. We sample a lot instead of just relying on a lot of synths. Nick is an expert crate-digger–unfortunately these days you have to clear a lot of samples. It’s very trippy and melodic, slightly more heady than the previous stuff, which is possibly Nick’s influence ’cause he’s into a lot of twisted stuff these days. He’s a lot more leftfield than me at the moment, which is cool because we meet somewhere in middle. At the moment I’d say about half my live sets are new album demos and upcoming stuff, along with a lot of my own fresh stuff, the Anjunadeep:06 stuff, and submissions that get sent into the label as well.
LessThan3: You’re very involved with Anjunadeep, working on Anjunadeep:06 and of course Deep:05 before that. How did you first become involved with the label?
Jody: They signed Lassoo around four years ago, and ever since then I’ve always given them the first option whenever I’ve written anything I think is worth signing. Then they got me in to be their kind of resident I suppose, and then they asked if I wanted to get in on the comps and stuff when Jaytech switched more to the Anjunabeats side of things. So I filled the shoes really, pushing the housier, lower BPM stuff, which was their plan, and the rest is history.
LessThan3: So is this a long-term thing?
Jody: Hopefully, as long as we all see eye to eye and we’re on the same page musically. The fact that me and James Grant decided to mix 06 together shows we’re thinking alike. I really respect his taste in music, and it’s nice to have someone to bounce off as opposed to us just trying to do like “the power hour” or trying to say “my disc is better than your disc.”
LessThan3: There’s an Anjunadeep stage coming up at TomorrowWorld. Is that something you’ve had a hand in curating?
Jody: No, I can’t say I have, but it’s really nice to see the guys taking it seriously and really stepping up with the Deep side of things when it comes to touring, so hopefully this is just the beginning. It’s something I felt was lacking a bit when we were working on Anjunadeep:05.
LessThan3: Is an Anjunadeep night in Ibiza something you guys are looking to do in the future?
Jody: It’s all being looked in progress at the moment. A lot of it is thanks to a guy called Dom who they brought in last year–he has a lot of enthusiasm to take the live side of things to the next level.
LessThan3: Do you see yourself more as a DJ who produces or a producer who DJs?
Jody: I was making beats before I ever DJed, when I was about 15, messing around with drum machines and things like that. Then again, my Dad was taking me to clubs and immersing me in this world. Since I started at such a young age, I was definitely messing around with music long before getting booked to play clubs.
LessThan3: We’ve seen from some of your studio videos on YouTube that you’ve got a lot of analog gear and have quite an organic approach to producing. How do you feel this affects your sound?
Jody: You can really hear it. Then again, there are a lot of people who are taking it further to the point I’m thinking “I really need to be picking up on that”–the whole guitar FX pedal thing. I need some analog delays in the house instead of using digital delay. I’ve got the sound source covered with the classic synths, but I think it’s time to get some analogue outboard gear and get some real warm distortion going on. Get on ebay and get a nice little FX chain together!
LessThan3: Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with who you haven’t worked with yet?
Jody: It’s a hard one to answer ’cause I’d be insulting someone else really good if I don’t say them! I’d love to do something with is Jamie Woon. I’ve always loved his voice, but I’m not going to take it any further than mentioning I’d like to do it!
LessThan3: Aside from the Way Out West stuff, is there anyone else you’re working with at the moment?
Jody: On Deep:06 I did the collab with Lane 8 and James Grant for the Hollow Talk remix, and a few others on there with James too, but nothing else at the moment. I’ve spoken with a few people, but we’ve never taken it to the next level because we’re too busy, engrossed in our own tracks or whatever. Me and Robert Babicz are always considering doing something together which would be nice at some point.
LessThan3: Are you the sort of person who prefers to get into it on your own in the studio, or do you like to have someone else to bounce off with ideas?
Jody: Bit of both really. When I’m working with Nick it’s really nice–sometimes on your own you get too wrapped up in the finer details–you’re just staring at the screen and can lose the plot a little bit, which is where someone else just sitting in the back even just listening can be really beneficial. I think doing more collabs in the future is a good idea, and every year I think I should get busy with this, but it never seems to happen. I think there’s a new piece of software that’s designed for doing collabs that Lane 8 turned me onto the other day, so I think I’m definitely going to be doing something with him again. I really liked the input he had on the Hollow Talk remix.
LessThan3: Is there anything your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
Jody: There’s something that we turned down in the Way Out West days, and that was working with Bernard Sumner, which is something I regret to this day–that was a bit daft! I was like “Nick, I can’t work with this guy; he can’t sing.” We were in the studio with him, Arthur Baker, and Johnny Marr, and apart from Arthur I didn’t know who the other two were. Oops!
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Jody: Emotional, sexy, consistent.
Airplay enabled