Interview: Junes

Junes is a producer and DJ from Newcastle, England, now based in Berlin. While this is a familiar intro for many, his sound is slightly aside from the typical house and techno path. In fact, the brand of what we broadly term “dance music” he’s associated with is particularly hard to pin down. In 2011 he set up the Galdoors label with his brother Tames, naming it after their grandparents’ business. It housed releases from the brothers themselves as well as offbeat 12″s from Audio Werner, Elgato, Leif and Duckett. Now, Junes is shifting into album mode with A View, forthcoming on a new label, Dote. We caught up with him to talk about his work processes, how to avoid the clichés of techno albums and the difficulty of naming things.

I was interested to ask about the name of the label – where did that come from? “Dote, the name of the label. It’s because I always remember my dad, variously talked about some relative of his, mine, that used to talk about the fact that he or she doted on some other relative. That word or that concept, I think it’s a nice word, it’s a nice meaning, and can be open to interpretation.” I suppose it links to your family in the same way that Galdoors does, which is nice. “It wasn’t that intentional.” In Ireland, you’d call someone a wee dote if they were really nice and sweet, is it similar to that? “Yeah, perhaps. My family on my dad’s side is Irish, so maybe he’s picked some of that up. I recently picked up an Irish passport. Kind of ashamed of the way I did it – I went to the embassy here and they looked at the stuff I was giving them and they were just like, yeah yeah. Another one.” I completely understand, especially if you want to live in the EU and you want to travel and whatnot. “I’m treating it as I’m reclaiming my heritage… it’s nothing to do with Brexit.” That’s cool, I respect that. 

Up to now you’ve mainly done singles/EPs, whatever you want to call them. What was the impetus towards a larger body of work? “I guess initially I had quite a bit of time off and time on my hands, towards the end of last summer, so for about three/four months I was able to work on music non-stop. It was basically because I’d done four/five EPs, and I wanted a bit of a new challenge to do something that was longer, and I think having that space to do some tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily put out on a straight-up dance floor EP, I think having that time and having a certain aesthetic throughout the whole piece as well, the whole album, was appealing.” Lots of other musical styles are built around songs and albums and collections of songs, whereas with dance music, it’s obviously club stuff. How do you put that together in a succinct or cohesive way, that becomes its own challenge, and that’s what you were trying to do, does that make sense? “I guess so. I think initially when I was toying with the idea to do an album, I thought maybe I’ll do some ambient tracks or downtempo stuff, I did try initially, but whenever I make things with an aesthetic more like that, it always ends up turning into a dance-floor track. I will make something, find a certain pattern or melody structure, and think oh, actually I’d love to just put some drums under that, or a bass line.” There is that joke trope about ‘techno producer makes album, sticks in ambient intro’. “Yeah, and there’s that as well, it seems like a very well trodden path. Also, there’s loads of people who are so much better than I am at making that – there’s people who make ambient music, there’s people who make downtempo stuff, and that’s their thing. Or there’s incredibly talented producers who can try their hand at anything and it’s amazing, but I think that I do what I do, and I’m reasonably confident now at doing that. And I don’t know how confident I’d be exploring other avenues that it doesn’t feel so relevant for me to explore, at this time anyway.”

That makes a lot of sense. Is Dote going to just be a you thing or are you going to incorporate other artists, or have you thought that far ahead? “Sort of. I think initially it will be largely for myself, but perhaps there may be some collaborations between myself and other people on there. But that’s just a half-baked idea at the moment. I will hopefully get another EP out on there before the end of the year, and that’s as far as I’m really thinking at the moment.” And what’s the latest on Galdoors?Mine was the last release on that. Tames, my brother, who did one in 2014, he is going to be doing the next one. So that’s the plan there. Again, we’re not really thinking so far ahead, there’s not really any grand plan, we just take it one release at a time. Galdoors has been very much when we have the music we’ll do it. We’re still looking for stuff but generally Galdoors feels like a closed thing, all for people that we’re quite friendly with. I think we would do something with somebody we didn’t know but those opportunities aren’t necessarily there at the moment.”

Do you get many demo submissions? “Yeah for sure. some of them have been really good, even tracks that I would play, but it’s weird. I don’t quite know how I would describe the Galdoors aesthetic, or sound, but sometimes, this is great but it just doesn’t fit on Galdoors. Personally, I’d call it deep house, but in a good way. “That’s good, let’s go with that.” I’ve found myself drifting more towards that kind of sound, positioned somewhere between house and techno. Even those two words can be so meaningless at this point. ‘Is it boshy or is it soulful’, they’re the only ways to describe them. “Yeah, they come with so many connotations, if you say house music to one person they will think a different thing to another person. It’s difficult, especially when someone asks you, if you’re talking to someone about doing music, ‘what sort of music do you do’, oh you know, house, techno… it’s horrible.”

“I find that I’m generally quite all over the place in what I listen to, dance music-wise. I don’t think I’m as methodical as I could be in terms of finding new music and digging, because I think, in a good way, I don’t focus too much on this certain label or this certain person, following them and all the stuff they’re doing. I think in general I try to keep a very broad lens and I try to listen to everything, to a certain extent. Also listening back to old records that I’ve put into the section of ‘nah, don’t really want to listen to that any more’, and then a couple of years later you’re like ‘ugh, don’t know how that made it into that section!’ and I don’t know how this gazzy tune is in my ‘do like’ section. so, it’s already shifting around.”

You said before that you got into tough house music, like DJ Sneak, what was your evolution like? “It’s hard to say. I had a reasonably good starting point, because my older brother and some of his friends were into dance music, house, techno, whatever, and I think they started from ground zero so they filtered out a lot of the chaff, and by the time I was getting interested in it they were a little bit further down the road.” They’d done the hard work for you. “Pretty much! So in terms of the evolution of stuff, I don’t really know! I kept listening to new stuff, at the start, one new DJ that you end up liking leads you on to new things, new scenes, and the one thing leads you on to another. I think that’s a pretty terrible answer!” Did you ever have a blog house phase? “I don’t know what blog house is.” Oh wow. You know, Justice, Ed Banger, Boys Noize, all that kind of stuff. “Oh right. Nah, I didn’t.”

How often do you play? Going by your RA page, you haven’t played in a while. “I played at the end of April at Hoppetosse for the Ghost party, and in march I was in Cluj in Romania. Not incredibly often, but more and more at the moment, which is good, and got a few things over the course of the remainder of this year. Looking forward to that.” Are you going to Freero? “I’m not going this year, I was on the fence and I was about to go, but I have a gig that weekend. I must have been to Freero eight, nine times or something. For a long time, that’s been the only festival I’ve been to.” Is that how relationships with people like Leif and Duckett have come about? “Sort of. The relationship with Leif and Tom Ellis and Duckett and that came about, my brother and our good friend Jamie and some other people were running this night in Leeds called Twaddle, and they booked Tom Ellis and subsequently Leif and Joe Ellis. That must be back in 2007?” When I was listening to Justice. “So that’s where I jumped in. I remember the first Freerotation at Baskerville Hall, I think there’d been some form of Freerotation party before that, they were like ‘there’s this festival going on, you guys should come down’, so we went and it was amazing, and went often since.”

Have you ever collaborated with your brother, or does he live in England? “He lives here in Berlin actually. We have done very sparingly, a while ago, when we were first getting involved in making stuff, but I think nowadays we have more different styles, not necessarily so much the style of music but the approach to making stuff is quite different. I think generally I haven’t collaborated much with people because I quite like to do it on my own. There’s a certain pressure there when you’re working on something with somebody else there, and questioning everything that you’re doing, questioning everything the other person is doing, ‘awh nah, not that, not that, change that kick, no no no, that’s shit’. Whereas if you’re by yourself I think those things that initially somebody might be like ‘what the hell are you doing’, you have more space to explore those avenues, that weird thing ended up complementing something else and turning into a nice piece of music in the end.” That makes a lot of sense.

What’s your approach? Do you come home from work and think ‘I have an idea in my head, I’m going to go to it’, or do you, like you say, take time off work? “I’ve never once had an idea in my head for a tune, ever. It’s never like I’m humming something or thinking ‘I want to do something that’s like this’. sure, when I first started making stuff in my bedroom or whatever, I’d be trying to emulate certain things. But generally, I don’t like doing stuff after work, cause by the time I get home, eat something, get going, it’s 8, 9, and I like to have a full day, or at least five six hours open ahead of me where I can make a good bit of noise. So generally, I would do it at the weekend, because I guess the way I do things, the best tracks I’ve made happened very quickly, and they all come out very quickly, or maybe I’ll take something I’ve been working on previously and change something slightly and then the whole track flows out very quickly. I like to do it all in one chunk, so it’s good to have a good bit of time. I don’t like to nurse things, slowly over a long period of time. Maybe that’s because I’m a bit lazy. It certainly works incredibly well for people who have a lot of patience, and diligence, to sit there and really meticulously make this wonderful piece of music. Things can start off and things will generally end very different to how they started, but it will be quite a quick process. For me with the stuff I’m doing I want to have that energy to them, so as I’m jamming it out, I need to have that interest still, or to me it needs to be exciting and fresh, as if I’m hearing it for the first time. In order to make it properly. If I’ve been listening to it a million times and tweaking it, it would make me slightly lethargic in doing it, and that would translate through to the end product.” You don’t want that. “Lethargic house bombs.”

Junes – A View is out on Dote on July 18. Buy here.

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...