Joe Goddard is best known as one of the beat boffins behind Hot Chip. Blending cutting edge beats with sensational songwriting, the London group have effortlessly kept their cool while critics are losing theirs. Fresh from releasing his new solo album, Goddard is an in-demand DJ continually striving to find new sounds for his always diverse sets.
Roska is a newcomer to the production game. Releasing his first plates late last year, the London kid is a star name in the fast rising funky scene. Clubbers sick of dubstep’s bass wars and grime’s continual macho posing have begun flocking to hear Roska’s production. Bass heavy but with a cheeky sense of humour, his stripped-down style is one of the hottest new trends in electronic music.
Joe: Thank you for speaking to me. Clash have asked me to choose people that I want to interview and I thought that I would see if you were up for it as I’ve been buying your records for a while and listening to a DJ mix that you did a while back; I thought it was really good, so thank you! So, are you a London boy then?
Roska: Yeah man.
Roska: I grew up in a place called Kemsley, which is on the outskirts of Kent in London. As I grew older I moved central and South West.
Joe: So, in terms of your music now, where has a lot of it come from? When you were a teenager what dance music was really your favourite stuff?
Roska: I was listening to a lot of garage. A lot of garage, drum ‘n’ bass - heavy percussion stuff when I was growing up.
Joe: When 2-step was really big were you into it?
Roska: Yeah, I was. I was really into it. I was a bedroom producer at that time.
Joe: Were you making garage then?
Roska: Yeah I was. I’ve got loads and loads of tracks that will never come out, because times are old now!
Joe: For me, the stuff I was into was old drum and bass. I used to go to Metalheadz, I was into Photek and a lot of Andy C stuff when I was a teenager. At first garage, when it first came along, I couldn’t really work it out. The beat, the swing didn’t really make a lot of sense to me and I wasn’t really into 4x4 when it came around. But then garage brought me into that kind of music. So, for you was it drum and bass before that?
Roska: Yeah, before that it was a bit of drum and bass. My cousin was more of a DJ than me back in the day and he was listening to lots of drum and bass when I was more into soul, hip-hop and R&B. Mainly hip-hop, then. Garage was sort of the in-thing at the time, and it caught my ear so I slowly moved over. I was making a lot of hip-hop before I moved over into garage.
Joe: Are you still making other things or are you concentrating on funky most of the time now?
Roska: At the moment it’s just mainly funky but now and then I do something different. I’ve made a couple of dubstep tracks and a couple of grime tracks, which I made about two or three months ago. I’m sort of in between. But mainly at the moment I’m sticking with funky.
Joe: Of course. I’ve come to funky pretty late - when did it switch over from garage to funky? Have you been into funky for quite a while now?
Roska: I’ve been into it since 2006. On and off. I made my first track in 2007 and then I released it in February as ‘Freeline’. After So Solid in garage I kind of stopped listening slowly, until 2004/2005 when I started to make grime because the grime was starting to take over. After a while I just kind of stopped for a little while, making music.
Joe: A lot of people thought that grime got militant and angry whereas funky is something that everyone can get into. Women are involved and it seems to be a little less angry music. Do you remember what it was about grime that made you not so interested?
Roska: I don’t know, I kind of just didn’t bother with all of it. I kind of just started listening to the funky a lot. It wasn’t even just about the female following, it was about the whole vibe. In the grime days you could expect about fifty guys just standing up because they’re all from different areas and I’m not into that. I want to go somewhere and know I’m going to be able to dance and not worry about where it’s going to end up.
Joe: I know what you mean. For me, funky at the moment still has the heaviness. But it’s not all like a man’s thing, like not all violent and crazy. You can properly dance to it for long periods. For me, I DJ out quite a lot and I play some old garage, some techno and for me funky sits in the middle with all of that so nicely at the moment. That’s something I want to ask about because I’ve been noticing more and more European producers letting funky influences seep in. I was wondering if you’re into German techno, things like that, do you pick up on those records?
Roska: In terms of like picking up on those records I haven’t really. I do try and listen to those records, sometimes I try sticking it on myself. With getting an influence it kind of turns into duplicating the sound. I try not to. Obviously I’ve got loads of other people’s tracks but I try to keep to my own sound. I keep it original, that’s what I want to do.
Joe: I guess the sound that you’re talking about does sound original and forward thinking at the moment so it’s best to just keep on that tip for a little while. So, what scene of people do you DJ with?
Roska: At the moment the clubs that I’m playing at are the kind that have a few dubstep DJs on the line-up. Cos my sound is quite universal, you can play in a funky dance and you can play it in a dubstep dance. I kind of get the best of both worlds if you look at it that way.
Joe: Have you been DJing and producing all the way from the beginning?
Roska: No. I DJ’d in garage times but I wasn’t a DJ, I was just messing about. Now I take DJing more seriously, really. All the way it’s been producing first and DJing after, for me.
Joe: I’ve been reading stuff on the Internet of the influence that funky takes and funky gives back to Jamaican music like soca and dancehall. There seems to be some good crossovers at the moment. Have you been feeling that?
Roska: Yeah, I’ve been listening to ragga, not really soca as much. A lot of influences that come to funky come from soca, and also tribal house - like a lot of congas. Heavily percussioned music. I don’t mind soca but it’s not really the way I want to take my music, if you know what I mean. But it’s good, this scene has something in it for everybody if you know what I mean - that’s why it’s growing quite rapidly.
Joe: It’s making people look at house music in a more creative way. Like with what you say, more tribal drums and different rhythms. It’s starting to move away from that soca beat to people using all different kinds of beats and rhythms, which is good; it makes me feel that the music will grow and move on from being any one thing.
Roska: Personally I think it’s grown very quickly. If you think about it, it all took off last year in Ayai Napa. It has grown quite a lot, there are a lot of tunes out there but they’re not all easily obtainable. I mean I always get a lot of DJs asking for tracks but the tracks aren’t readily available, although there is a lot of music being made. I think it’s all down to the digital age. Before, you had to cut a dubplate and play it on vinyl because there weren’t no CDJs and stuff. Now you can use MP3s.
Joe: I’ve been buying twelves of funky stuff from Blackmarket and places. Sometimes it seems like the twelves come out a long time after the tunes are made, so I guess some people don’t really bother with vinyl anymore.
Roska: I do like vinyl but it is sort of a lot to carry.
Joe: It’s a bit old school now. Some clubs I’ve been to now where you turn up with a bag of vinyl you get kids coming over and looking at you like it’s some kind of old thing like, ‘Wow! He’s got records!’
Roska: The thing is I would play vinyl. There’s a specific sound in vinyl that some people like, you know what I mean? It’s a warmer sound.
Joe: Is Ayia Napa playing a lot of funky at the moment? Have you been out there?
Roska: I see places like that as being full of hype. I’m not into that. But last year was definitely about funky, that’s what people went out there specifically for. It was really doing it, it was all funky out there.
Joe: What kind of things do you use when you’re producing? Do you work from home?
Roska: Yeah, I’ve got my own studio at the moment.
Joe: Is it like Logic or something like that?
Roska: No, I use Fruity Loops.
Joe: It’s kind of popular with different producers isn’t it?
Roska: It’s kind of no nonsense, straight up, you get what you want out of it. I’ve been using it for like eight years on and off. I was going to use to Logic but it doesn’t make sense as I’m used to Fruit Loops, I’ve got all the plug-in hardware. It does everything that I need it to do.
Joe: I feel like that. I use Cubase, I’ve been using it for about the same time as you, like eight/ten years, and people are always saying to me to try something else. But if you know a piece of software and you know what you want then there’s no real reason to do it. I always think about Lee Perry or some old dub producer just having a four track. It doesn’t matter what you use - as long as you’ve got the idea you can do what you want.
Interview by Robin Murray
‘Harvest Festival’, Joe Goddard’s debut artist album, is out now on Greco Roman.
Big Chill Festival 2010