Jody Wisternoff Of Anjunadeep Discusses Label Success And New Album [Interview]
Jody Wisternoff, UK deep house producer and half of Way Out West, has mastered the realm of electronic music since the beginning of his career in the 80s. Representing the sound of Above & Beyond’s deep house imprint, Anjunadeep, Wisternoff serves a leading role as A&R with the label. Captivating Anjuna-addicts with his distinctive and unique chillout vibe, Jody Wisternoff made a rare American festival appearance at TomorrowWorld last weekend at the Anjunadeep stage.
Mentioned in Billboard’s “TomorrowWorld 2014 Day 1 Highlights” and “9 Sets Not to Miss,” Jody Wisternoff’s performance at the intimate Anjunadeep stage “entranced a journey through progressive house’s deep end.” Unfortunately, Wisternoff’s exceptional TomorrowWorld set will not be released because of the amount of unreleased and demo tracks played. However, fans can tune in to Wisternoff’s monthly Intensified Podcast on Mixcloud or check out the label’s 6th album compilation edition.
Anjunadeep 06, a mix of all-embracing tracks selected by Jody Wisternoff alongside label head James Grant, dominated the iTunes Dance Chart at #1 in under 24 hours. Embracing the album’s number one spot in five different countries, including the United States, Canada, and Russia, the ambient electronica compilation topped Deadmau5’s while (1<2), Calvin Harris’ 18 Months, Avicii’s True and Skrillex’s Recess. Individual tracks also received success on Pete Tong’s BBC Radio 1, such as “Deep in My Soul” and “Hollow Talk.” Since the beginning of the compilation series in 2009, Anjunadeep’s massive worldwide success captivates listeners who seek a more mature, deeper groove.
EDM.com had the chance to catch up with Jody Wisternoff at TomorrowWorld to discuss Anjunadeep’s success, Way Out West’s album in-the-works, and his opinion on the state of dance culture in the US compared to the UK.
(EDM = Carissa Gerzeny of EDM.com; Jody = Jody Wisternoff)
EDM: TomorrowWorld is a huge milestone for the Anjunadeep crew as it is the first time you’ve hosted a stage at a major festival. What experience did you want to create for your fans?
Jody: Basically, I just want to mindf*ck them in a positive way. Just give them beautiful vibes, warmth and emotion, and try to pull people away from the mainstream tents and show them their future. As people get a little bit older, they prefer slightly slower music that has a bit more groove. In Germany, this festival does cater to the EDM crowd and it’s amazing that we’ve managed to get a stronghold in this kind of situation because it doesn’t usually happen. We would like to capitalize on that, slowly but surely.
EDM: This stage is giving the label a lot of exposure. What kind of growth do you foresee Anjunadeep in the near future?
Jody: With the release of Anjunadeep06 this year, it is very encouraging. Last year, we smashed the iTunes charts and this year we did it again so I am very thankful. America seems to be taking notice of the house and deep house sound. A lot of the times it is not actually deep house, because deep house is very mellow. What is thought of as deep house, is usually something else. It’s more like progressive house. It is like riding in the EDM wave, but showing alternatives for people that are ready for something different.
EDM: Explain your role for Above & Beyond’s Anjunadeep imprint.
Jody: First and foremost, I’m an artist for Anjunadeep. Secondly, I do A&R alongside James Grant, who is the label owner, and Dom Donnelly and Allan McGrath. There are enough judges to pick out tracks. If all of us think something is good, then it’s probably good.
EDM: Since the beginning of your career in the 80s and early 90s rave era, how do you feel music has been revolutionized?
Jody: When thinking about the grand scheme of things, I think we are doing something that benefits the population. It’s more than entertainment. Music can save people’s lives. If you hear a track or a DJ, it can guide you to the positive. Or maybe not, maybe we’re all playing with computers and making electronic noises to satisfy our own urges. But I like to think we are doing something that means something.
EDM: What are your thoughts on the current scene in the UK compare to the US?
Jody: The style of music in the UK is being appreciated around the world. When I DJ abroad and I play in England, I try to push the UK sound and half the world sound. UK sound is more bass driven. It has a lot of low ends, jungle and dubstep sounds. The UK vibe is heavy. Americans are into that because they are hip-hoppers and love trap music. When they hear the UK house, they hear that bass line that they love and they are into that, so they understand UK sound. I think it is a worldwide thing, much to the dismay of people who are stuck in their ways and think that it’s not.
EDM: You primarily tour in Eastern Europe. Do you have upcoming plans to tour in the US?
Jody: The next few weeks I will be in Russia and Hungary. There is a big tour coming up in the beginning of the year, but I cannot announce it yet.
EDM: What is the craziest experience you’ve had on tour?
Jody: I’ve been in a plane crash before. I was in a plane where an engine exploded. The plane went up, and then it went down. I was traveling from Sydney to Melbourne. Everyone was okay.
EDM: What do you feel was a defining moment in your career?
Jody: There was a moment that opened a lot of doors and that was when ‘The Gift’ charted, a track I made with Nick Warren as Way Out West in 1997. The tune did really well for us. It got into the top 10 in the UK pop chart. At that time, records were selling a lot. It was an era before this.
EDM: What is your favorite instrument to utilize when producing a track?
Jody: Sampling. It’s like an audio collage. I am a keyboard player, so I have a room full of synthesizers, but I do find the most interesting things can happen when you go for the audio collage vibe. Some may say you’re stealing this and that, but I think that there is an art to it if you figure out why it can be very magical, then you should pursue that thing. There are too many software synthesizers that may sound plasticky and one dimensional. There is only a proportion of stuff I hear that has a slightly clean sound. I think people should get on that hip-hop vibe again because that’s where we’re from.
EDM: What dictates the journey of your sets?
Jody: I start with going on a sampling mission to find something that inspires me either from a sound from a film or record that I love. Opening a set is the most important thing because it grabs people. If people don’t enjoy the first thirty seconds, they turn it off.
EDM: You’re working with Nick Warren as half of the house music act Way Out West with an upcoming album in the works. Can we expect the album to stick to your original disco house roots, or will there be any surprises?
Jody: I think it is more in line with where we are at as DJs these days. There is obviously the slower, downbeat kind of vibe. Although we have evolved in different ways and we are at different ends of the spectrum when it comes to house music, so meeting in the middle is what will happen. I am heavily into the UK sound, and Nick Warren is into the traditional house, so we find a happy medium.
EDM: What are the differences in your musical ambitions between your singular work in Frisky Radio/Intensified Podcasts and your duo project Proton Radio/Way Out There?
Jody: When I am working alone, I do stuff that is more keyboard and synth based. I like sound design. When I am with Nick, it is more about sampling. There is slightly more of a synthetic sound to my own stuff.
EDM: Anjunadeep06 was recently released. How is the curation process for the series organized?
Jody: A lot of tracks are sent to us separately, but we guide them all to the same Dropbox. There is a massive pool to choose from. James and I did not have to battle in any way in terms of selecting tracks. We work together as a coalition for the greater good. We sit down, nod our heads and go “yeah man, it’s a good tune.”
Cover Photo Credit: Tribal Mixes