Willy Joy brings Chicago vibe back home to Minneapolis (INTERVIEW)


As a college student in Chicago and proud Minneapolis native, Willy Joy was one of the Windy City's busiest DJs for the latter part of the decade. He assassinated dancefloors with his merging of UK rave, hip-hop and classic electronica at least three times a week in the hipster-drenched Wicker Park bar scene that birthed artists like The Cool Kids, Flosstradamus, Zebo and Kid Sister (with whom he's now touring). [jump]

He was named one of URB Magazine's Next 100 artists a few years back and locally conquered the Too Much Love dancefloor a number of times. But more recently, Willy's really seen a payoff that's allowed him to tour, produce and collab with artists he's respected for years and who now in turn are giving him his due props. Among them is our own Mike2600, whose birthday party he's returned home to deejay tonight.

We talked to the always amiable DJ last night about his native Tundra, which tracks he's feeling right now, and what he expects from tonight's party (also featuring two other Minneapolis expatriates, Gigamesh and Jimmy2Times).

For those that don't know, tell us your history with Minneapolis.

I was born and raised in South and lived here until I was 18, and I also started my love affair with music while I was living here. It's always stayed close to my heart.

 At what point in the last several years did you decide to run with DJing as a career?


Well, in college I was DJing to pay my bills, but that was more out of necessity than out of fun - I was doing mostly top 40 gigs because they tend to pay well, and I was doing them because I didn't have much extra cash. That was about 10 years ago when I started, but I guess the last time I had a "day job" was three or four years ago. I got laid off from my last job, and it was the best thing they ever could have done for me - just the kick in the ass I needed to take my music career to the next level.

What do you think of the term "hipster dance music" and does it apply to you?

I've got no problem with the term because to me it's kind of meaningless - it's a decent way to describe what I do because we all sort of know what it's referring to, but it's so vague that it could really be ascribed to anything. These days I just say what I do is based in house and techno and let people hear it for themselves.

How would you describe your music to someone over 50 years old?

I  try to make it as simple as possible: "I play dance music in nightclubs." If the old person is savvy, maybe I'd add "electronic" before "dance music".

Who would you cite as a major influence on your sound?

I'm lucky to count some of my biggest influences as some of my good friends. In modern dance music, some big influences for me have been Nadastrom & Dubsided Records, Trouble & Bass Records, Fool's Gold Records, Mad Decent, etc. I've been fortunate enough to work with most of them in one way or another and they continue to inspire and push me with every new release they put out. I also draw a lot from my childhood nostalgia, meaning 90's house, pop and r&b, as well as oldskool UK rave music which was my first introduction to dance music in general.

We've seen you DJ Too Much Love before -- how do you think Mike2600's b-day party will be different?

It'll be a little more intimate and sweaty, but I don't plan on changing my approach much - as long as hands are in the air and somebody's getting laid somewhere, I think I've done my job alright. I'll probably play a lot of my own upcoming releases and just vibe off the other excellent DJs also playing that night.

Tell us a few favorite tracks in the rotation right now.

Drop The Lime's "Hot As Hell" has been a staple since I got it from him way back when. I'm playing a lot of my own forthcoming stuff, as well as tunes from other Chicago producers who I love - the Ghetto Division DJs have been murdering their releases lately. Also tunes from my friends Nadastrom, Starks & Nacey, Bird Peterson, etc. I play some "anthems" as well but I'd always rather feature some songs you might not have heard before! Love you, MN!