josh caffé

OPULENCE X JOSH CAFFE

Josh Caffé is an assured part of the underground house and techno scene. He is someone who has nurtured a close following of fans thanks to his varied, lauded DJ sets and live PA's. They find him mixing up house/acid house and techno with great technical and crowd reading skills. He has laid down such sets at both cosy basement parties and larger festival gatherings such as Glastonbury (BLOCK9), Melt Festival, Field Maneuvers, Lovebox, Farr Festival and clubs like Dance Tunnel, Renate, ://about blank, TV Lounge (Detroit), Primary (Chicago) and Crosstown Rebels/Get Lost (Miami).

On Friday, January 18th, 2019, Josh will work the dance floor at OPULENCE, promising to take us on a journey that’s “hard and cute,” with a few surprises thrown in 🤤🤤🤤🤤 — YES! For a taste of what will be served for your pleasure this Friday, fall in to this very special mix he created just for us.

Josh Caffé is founder of the label Night Sheen and resident at the DICK/Pioneer Prague party held at Ankali warehouse club. 2018 has seen the launch of LGBTQ night Love Child (fabric), curated and founded by Josh alongside Fabric. Josh has also played around the world, at MTV events as well as vocal performances at Panorama bar and Boiler Room, and more besides. His regular guest slots on NTS Radio and monthly show on 199 Radio have further expanded his audience internationally.

In 2018, Josh released an eagerly awaited EP, BLACK MAGIK DAWN PT.1 on his own imprint Night Sheen Records. A collaborative project featuring acclaimed visual artists Holly Hunter & Alex Shaw and producers worldwide. With a new solo EP on the way, his productions, vocals and lyric continue to shine, as does the man himself both in the club and the studio.

Ahead of Friday’s turn up, we caught up with Josh and talked about how he got into electronic music, London club culture and why the gays should come together.

Matt Hass

Matt Hass

AN DO: We love the mix you recorded for us. The beginning is especially beautiful. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

JOSH CAFFE: I started working on it just before Christmas, and it’s rare that I get to do these kind of harder techno mixes — which I love, and I love playing those kind of sets. I usually just play them at my residency in Prague. When I listen to techno sets it’s almost about taking you on this journey, and I guess in the mix I wanted to sum up what OPULENCE was. There are really rich, varied kind of sounds and mutating it altogether. It’s a very dark mix, but it goes through a journey from being quite dark to quite sexy. 

AD: I always think about the moment when I started to get into electronic music, because with me it happened all of a sudden. How did you get into electronic music? 

JC: When I was really going out — this was early 2000s when there was an electro clash rebirth in London — you had clubs like Nag Nag Nag and the Cock and the Ghetto. The Ghetto was a really small club in Soho, and they used to do a party on Wednesdays called Nag Nag Nag. It was around that time when Miss Kitten and the Hacker had first done their album. All that kind of sound was coming around and I used to go to it quite a lot. I knew people who DJ’d there. And I guess from there it sort of spiraled because I was obviously going, and it was just before I started DJ’ing myself.

My family’s quite a musical household and my dad used to be a DJ when he was living in Africa in the 1970s. When he came to the UK in the 1980s he was a music engineer. So we always had various different music in our house. I’ve always kind of grown up around different genres of music and it went from jungle and drum and bass and then moved more into electronic stuff, and obviously now it’s gone back to house and techno. I guess Nag Nag Nag and Miss Kitten and the Hacker kickstarted things, really. 

AD: Yeah, I mean I still listen to them today. I love them. Would you say you were first a dancer and then the music took over?

JC: Oh god yeah, totally. I was the one that was like…I met a lot of friends, for instance like Hannah Holland, and we always just used to meet in clubs around London. We both had the same interest in music. Everyone started becoming DJs around the same time we were doing it, and you ended up going to people’s nights so you were always around it. It kind of naturally became something that I wanted to fall into. I had a big interest in music anyway, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with that. Do I want to be a singer? Or do I just want to be someone who goes out to clubs and enjoys dancing around?

AD: Did you always collect music or was that something that happened while you were going clubbing? 

JC: Oh I always collected music, yeah! My auntie bought me my first vinyl, which was Black Box in the 1990s. My dad used to travel to Europe. He’d go to Belgium and different places and he’d buy loads of vinyl and sit down and play them to me. That kind of inspired me as well to go out and do my own thing. I used to get my pocket money and on a Saturday go to Our Price or HMV and buy a single for like 2 quid or whatever. I kind of built up from there. At that time I was listening to a lot of R&B and hip-hop and soul, but definitely it’s always been around me from a kid. 

AD: Can you remember your first DJ set? 

JC: Yes! [laughs]. 

AD: [laughs] There’s always one of these moments. 

JC: It was good but it was bad at the same time. I used to DJ as a duo called Caffe Latte. Latte is my best friend and someone I met going out to the Cock and stuff. We share the same music interest and we were like, you know what? Maybe we should try and do this together. We both have quite a big knowledge of music. We had a friend who worked at the Red Lion pub in Hoxton — this is going back to like 2002 or 2003? Anyway, he worked there on a Sunday and he used to invite DJs to come down and play. They asked us to go and do it one weekend and we were just like…okay.

Well, we hadn’t really been DJ’ing for a long time before that. Our friend was kind of like — hey, come down and play, it’s fine! It’s gonna be friends and family! So we went along with it and we were literally just winging it. You know when someone says to you, right, we’re gonna just shove you here and you’re still kind of learning the ropes about doing it? It was a lot of really broken mixes. We knew what we were playing and friends came down and it was a really fun party in that sense. But at the same time, we were so not prepared. But it was good. We got offered a Sunday residency there, so it worked out for the best. 

AD: You always have to get started somewhere. 

JC: Exactly, yeah. A pub is always a good place to start as long as you can get your friends down. 

AD: Speaking more about music, you’re really in the world of house and techno. These days house and techno are always kept separate in a way because parties tend to have a house room and a techno room. With you, these lines seem to really blur. What’s your relationship to both genres? 

JC: In terms of being a vocalist, house is something that sits quite comfortable with me because it is an easier way to write lyrics to songs. If I want to sing more melodic type things then house works really well. But then there’s the dancer in me which likes the techno side. I go out and I can dance to that for ages, but it’s not something that I can always put a vocal to, so to have the two things together works really well. On the production level I can produce more house tracks and then when I’m going out and DJ’ing, I love to play more techno-y type sets. It’s nice to mix the two together. 

Tommy Oldham

Tommy Oldham

AD: I always find it interesting that when I listen to house sets I go crazy. I go to my phone and do the unspoken thing: Shazam all the tracks. When I’m on a techno dance floor, I’m gone. I’m gone and I’m not thinking about the world anymore.

JC: I’m the same as you. When I’m listening to house I can get what an artist is trying to convey, and I’ll always pick up on it. But I’m the same as you — if I’m listening to a techno set and someone is taking me on this kind of musical journey then you almost want to get lost in that. You end up listening to certain little sounds that are coming in and the effects that are in there that are helping build and elevate a track. So you almost don’t want to be disturbed. That’s why you end up just taking a pill and dancing in a corner by yourself [laughs]. You kind of just want to get involved in that and the less vocal there is, the better. You’re paying attention more to the layering of a track and how it’s building and how the DJ is mixing that in. I want to take all that in because that’s an art in itself. 

AD: Give me a 4 or 8 hour DJ set and a podium and I’m all yours! When you read about clubs these days, in the mainstream press anyway, it all feels super gloomy. Especially in London. Everything is closing. The headlines say young people have stopped going to clubs, they’d rather go to a vegan festival or something. What have you seen? Is the state of club culture so bad? 


JC: You know what? I think things are changing and I think with most scenes you almost have to go through these kind of shitty situations. Look at the governments we have around us and how places have been closed down because of developers. It encourages people to go off and do their own thing. If someone asked me this question two years ago, I would have said, You know what? I’m really worried about it, because places were closing down so quickly. And then you had fabric which almost closed down as well. If they’re closing these big establishments, then where do we go from here? 

I felt at the time that the gay scene was kind of quite stale and there were maybe a handful of places that were going but they were force-feeding you the kind of typical “let’s go and dance to disco and poppy music,” which not every gay person is into. So it became very limiting if you wanted to go out to something, and I kind of lost faith. 

But in London now the kids are creating more DIY things and there’s places obviously like Tottenham Hale. Thank god for places like The Cause and Five Miles that allow people to come and do these things again. Now, when you go out on the weekend there’s so much variety, which is good. And it’s getting everybody out again. I think we’re in a stronger place now. It just means we’re being pushed out further from the city. 


AD: Sometimes we need these kind of moments to start on a blank page. 

JC: We’re definitely in a much stronger place. If someone comes to London now I can say, oh, you can go to Superstore or you can go to Adonis or HTBX or you can go to OPULENCE. There’s so many more things. And also for someone who is a DJ or an artist here, that’s nice. It’s nice to have gigs in your local turf as opposed to constantly going abroad or outside of London. I’m happy to play abroad because I’m bored of London, but it’s where I’m from and it’s nice to know we’ve got a thriving scene again. 

AD: In 2018 you released your album Black Magic Dawn and the EP The Adventures of Mister Freak. What are you working on now? What’s new?

JC: When I make music, there’s always a small theme I’m thinking about, or that’s on my mind or that I’m thinking about, and I’ll take that and try and turn it into some kind of project. With Black Magic Dawn, that was centered around rebirth. I’d been in a very dark place before that and kind of came out of it and wanted to create something that was embodying the different things I’d experienced through that process, which then summed up rebirth. With Mister Freak, that was more about sexual liberation and exploring that side of things. With this one I’ve done three tracks so far, and they’re all quite varied. But until I start writing the lyrics, I’m not sure which direction it’s going. 

AD: ok, ok, but what can the gurls expect from you this week at OPULENCE? 

JC: It’s going to be hard and cute, that’s all I can say. I love dropping really random, obscure gems into things. It’ll be a hard, dance-y set. Get everyone twirling! 👠