Nexus 23 is the brainchild of UK native Joe Black. At this point already a force to be reckoned with, he has made quite a name for himself over the past few years with an intense, hard-edged style that could only come from the heart and soul of this unique artist. Passing through labels Borg Recordings; where he made his debut, to imprints such as Bass Agenda and Zero One Music, just recently also releasing on Demon City Records on the 2nd full-length album by Nexus 23, this fierce combatant of Electro beats offers no mercy, driven by a rebellious, yet conscious and forward-thinking energy that will make him an artist to look for, as his tunes continue to evolve and grow in ways we cannot predict. This month, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Joe for a brief but informative and insightful interview that lets us in on a glimpse as to who he is as an artist and person in general. Without further ado, let's go!
Welcome Joe, it’s a great pleasure to get a chance to find out more about you. Let’s go back to the beginning. How did music come into your life, who were your main influences as a kid?
My first experience of music as a kid was hearing my dad play me Captain Beefheart albums (he was and still is a massive fan). I guess this helped me develop my slightly "off-kilter" approach to music. Also, my mum was a musician when she was younger, she played the sax in bands, and knew serious celebrities in the music scene of Manchester; my home town. I would say my first proper influence as a kid growing up though was firstly Michael Jackson (during his "Bad" phase), and after that Nirvana; which helped me learn to play guitar.
Sounds like you had fun parents! Your musical influences also show the wide spectrum of taste you have. It's funny you mention Nirvana, who I know had a huge influence on many, though I must say I haven't met too many people so far in the Electronic scene who have mentioned them before. Your music and overall vibe as an artist has this hard-edged style about it, I think now I understand where that side of you comes from!
So since we are kind of on the topic, how would you describe the influence of London’s Electronic music scene on you personally as an artist? Would you say perhaps you are influenced more by life in the city in general?
London life is very culty in my opinion; at least as far as music scenes go. I spent a while on the squat/free party scene in London, I knew a sound system that used to play in the legendary (but now defunct) Scumtek raves. There was a lot of Hardcore Techno and Drum and Bass, so yeah that definitely was an influence.
Any other things non-music related that inspire you to write?
I like a lot of Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk fiction; whether novels or films. Growing up in the 80's, Sci-Fi was a big thing. It's definitely less popular now, but I feel it's making a comeback. The new Bladerunner is out very soon and it may lead to a resurgence!
"Music opens people up to free speech..."
Where you part of the Rave scene in the ‘90s by any chance? I can hear some old school Breaks influence in your tunes.
Not really, although I knew people in the original rave scene growing up in Manchester 'cos I used to go to school, and was best friends with, Tony Wilson's son (the guy who ran the Hacienda nightclub and managed Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays).
Wow, cool! Big fan of Tony Wilson and that whole scene. I bet that had to affect you growing up slightly intertwined with those guys. So moving on, let's talk about your music compositions, which while abstract in many ways, also seem to carry a theme of political concern for our current times; particularly “Weapons Of Mass Distraction”, on famed artist Will Web’s imprint. How do you feel about the state of world affairs?
Politics is now for the corporations. It's run by them. You can't trust politicians anymore because they only seem to want to give all the money and power to the rich anyway. The general public don't see politicians as people anymore, they see them as criminals.
Indeed this is very true. Fascism seems more obvious now than ever as corporations and governments merge into one machine. So let me ask while on this topic a bit, how do you feel about some people’s opinion that musical artists have no place in being politically active through their music or public life?
Music opens people up to free speech. Look at how, for example, The Beatles and the Sex Pistols affected society through their music. Music is a big influence on people's psyche. You hear it everywhere, it's completely intertwined with our lives.
Absolutely, music as an artform also in many ways truly can't exist outside the boundaries of society as far as the themes, so it has a huge power of influence historically, no doubt! Glad you see it. So what's a day in the studio like for you? What process works best for you as an artist?
I normally have an idea of what I'm going to do before I do it, and then freestyle the rest of it as I go along. I don't really take breaks, just at the end to listen back to what I've done then tweak it.
What would you say are your feelings on digital music vs. the return of vinyl? Do you see them both as beneficial, or one as more sustainable than the other perhaps?
Vinyl is definitely staying the course, we have always had it. The technology has increased in vinyl format as well as digital. I personally prefer mixing with vinyl, partly because that's how I started, but also because I think vinyl has better accuracy and feel. It also has a collectibility factor that digital download hasn't got; like collecting comic books or something like that.
Agreed, something about art especially needs to be tangible. How do you feel about the current state of the Electronic music scene then? Who are your favorite artists, and where do you see Electro Bass music going?
I think the current surge of commercial dance friendly acts are detrimental to the electronic underground, it's a strange state of affairs because you no longer have credible underground artists getting successful hits even when they are on an independent label. I see it all the time in London where I live because really you need to look hard or know people to get to the real parties that are playing the underground shit. In my opinion, major record labels saturate the market with watered down crap, and people find it hard to access the underground to hear fresh and exciting new talent. Oh and while I'm here, big shouts to my bro's Umwelt, Dicrylium, Cybereign, Errorbeauty...you all rock! Where's Electro Bass going? Into the future...
Any new releases planned for you in the near future?
My latest album "Synth, Knobs, and Boom Sticks" came out this month on the 23rd of September, so grab yourself a copy! It's also my first physical release, it's on CD as well as digital download.
Great stuff Joe, thank you for your time! Can't wait to hear more releases, keep up the great work!
Interviewed by: Santino Fernandez