Willy Joy Talks Back To Back Podcast, Escapism, Pushing Boundaries & More [Interview]

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For quite some time there’s been a gap in the electronic music space. While there are countless quality long form hip-hop podcasts, the electronic scene practically had none. There was no go-to place to hear in-depth interviews with your favoruite producers, DJs, label heads, and other major industry players. Thankfully there is now, thanks to veteran DJ and producer Willy Joy. Seeing the gap in the market, Willy dove in with the creation of Back To Back. The podcast first launched in June with his interview with Diplo and he’s been pumping out quality episodes on a weekly basis. With guest ranging from Keys N Krates to Paul Devro, Wax Motif, and YehMe2 (to name a few), Willy has filled the void in the best way possible. His experience and insight along with a deep network in the industry, make Back To Back the podcast that electronic music has been missing. For those unfamiliar with Willy Joy, he’s an OG with countless releases on some of the biggest labels in the scene, from Mad Decent to Fool’s Gold, TWONK and more. We recently had the honour of connecting with Willy to discuss his entry into the podcast game, what he’s learned along the way, advice on how to break into the industry, what excites him in music right now and more. Check out the full interview below.

What made you decide to start a podcast? Was there a specific moment where it clicked and you said, “I have to do this?”

I love podcasts because you learn so much more about a person than you would from any other medium. When I listen to an artist I admire have a real conversation with someone they know & respect, it deepens my love and appreciation for their art. It’s another level of fandom. At the time everything I was listening to was from comedians, actors, rappers…but I kept wondering why no one was doing it for electronic music. I know a lot of the people in the industry and I know how many amazing stories are out there. It was something that I really wanted to hear. Eventually I decided that if no one else was stepping up, then I’d have to be the guy to make it happen.

Eventually I decided that if no one else was stepping up, then I’d have to be the guy to make it happen.

What lessons or tips have you’ve learned as an interviewer since starting the show?

Listening is an art. You’ll never connect with someone until you really, truly listen to them. When I’m able to shut everything else out and only focus on the person sitting across from me is when the best moments of the show happen. I still don’t think of myself as an interviewer to be honest. Most times the second I’m done recording an episode I’m just thinking about everything I could have done to make it better. I’ve also learned how concentrating on someone else instead of yourself can help your own artistic process. After I have a really good conversation with someone I can come back to my own music with new energy and inspiration. So I think shutting up and listening has made me a better artist too.

You’ve had an incredible cross section of guests so far. Are there any dream guests that you’re chasing?

There’s a million. Beyond famous people I try to think about people who really would have something to say. Sometimes I don’t know much about a guest’s background going into the recording and those moments of surprise can be really rewarding too. Off the top of my head, a few I think would be cool: Skrillex, Pasquale, Deadmau5…I want to bring rap producers into the conversation…some of the acts that influenced me as a kid like the Prodigy, Moby, Carl Cox, Armand Van Helden would be awesome…I could literally name a hundred people so I’ll just stop. All the big names killing it currently obviously too but that’s a boring answer.

Do you have a timeline in mind for Back To Back? (E.g. I want to get to X episodes) or are you just going to keep at it until it’s no longer fun?

Right now it’s on an infinite timeline. I feel like I’ve barely started, it’s way too early to think about stopping. I love doing it, and the awesome reaction from everyone so far just makes me want to keep going harder.

What’s the most meaningful or inspiring story someone has told on Back To Back?

There have been so many already. I was really touched when Diplo talked about how he fills up his days with work while he’s on tour because he misses his kids and would feel guilty if he was across the world just relaxing. Talking to Wolfgang Gartner about the relationship between drugs and making music and the brain was fascinating. I think hearing about the hard times and struggles we all face in the industry is often the most meaningful, because those are the trials we all go through but never talk about. When I recorded with Flosstradamus right after Josh left the group we spent a lot of time talking about the darker side of the business. It was really emotional but I think it was a therapy session for both of us.

You’ve mentioned your music has a bit of an escapist element to it. Do you think “the escape” is more important now than ever with the craziness going on in the world?

That’s a tough question, because escapism has become more important to me than ever. But at the same time, the more you want to escape the more important it is to balance that out by also engaging in the world and dealing with all the terrible stuff going on right now. If someone just tunes out entirely I have no problem saying they are probably a shitty person. Wax Motif and I actually talk about that idea in his episode of the podcast. I think we as people can have it both ways – we can come together at a show and create a special moment, an escape from everything – then in the morning, we can still wake up and stand up for what we believe in.

You’re not owed anything, and if you’re not being authentic to yourself it won’t work in the long run. The true successes in this business are the ones who come in with a new idea.

From producing to DJing and podcasting, you’re pretty deep in the industry. What advice do you have for people trying to break into the industry?

Slow down. Be patient. Do it with your friends. Be realistic about your skill level. If you’re not as good as the person who’s in the position you want, put in the work to get better. If you are as good as them, figure out how they got there and see what you can learn and incorporate from that. You’re not owed anything, and if you’re not being authentic to yourself it won’t work in the long run. The true successes in this business are the ones who come in with a new idea. Your biggest advantage is your unique experience and personality, figure out how to express that.

You’ve produced across a wide range of genres. What style or sound has you most excited at the moment?

I’m most excited about the fact that you don’t have to stick to one sound or one style anymore. It’s definitely a good time for heavy music and my new material that will start dropping in 2018 is trying to push those boundaries…but regardless of the style, I just try to make music that makes me feel like a kid again. As far as innovation and new ideas I think the biggest leaps are being made in rap music. There’s a new generation of rap happening right now that feels pure and raw and exciting.

Anyone whose intention is just to pump out bangers to stay hot is playing a losing game.

The music scene right now seems to be very fast food oriented. It’s here today and gone tomorrow. Do you want to try to create timeless music or is it best to just keep pumping out bangers to stay hot?

I mean would anyone not say “timeless music”? Haha. Anyone whose intention is just to pump out bangers to stay hot is playing a losing game.

You’re well known for your skills as a DJ. What are the key ingredients to Willy Joy set?

Key ingredients would be: adrenaline, sweat, sex, and joy (no pun intended). Playing a show is literally my favorite thing to do in the world and I try to make people feel the same way I do. Almost everything I play is my own edits or my own music. More and more of my sets are just becoming a pure reflection of my personality – if you really want to get to know me just come out to a show.

What would you like to see disappear for 2018?

Our president. Also people who walk too slow.

Listen to Back To Back on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Co-Founder. Loves forward thinking sounds and weird stuff. Still believes music blogs should be about the music.

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