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Joey Negro (aka Dave Lee) Interview


Joey Negro (aka Dave Lee)

Joey Negro (aka Dave Lee)

Whether you call him Joey Negro, Jakatta or one of the Hed Boys, Dave Lee is well known as one of roots of the British house and garage scene. With countless productions and remixes in every DJ’s set, he manages to find the best music for his compilations and DJ sets while exploring his musicality with diverse and soul-satisfying projects. His new set Kings of Disco, with Dmitri from Paris, is just the latest gift he has given to house music lovers worldwide.

DJ Ron Slomowicz: So you're playing at APT tonight? Did you fly over for this one gig?
Dave Lee: I'm here for the gig and also a holiday thing as well. The two things just happened to coincide quite well. We don't have any other gigs in the States apart from this one. I had booked a holiday to come here anyway when this gig came through. It was a happy coincidence.

RS: Of all the places in the world to holiday, you choose New York.
Dave Lee: It's a great place. It's not somewhere you can lie on the beach, but I like those sorts of holidays. I like where you can go and chill out, but I also like a busy city where there's lots to see. So it's obviously one of the latter sorts of holidays here, but I love New York as a place and I prefer to come here on holiday as opposed to just business. Sometimes when you pass through very quickly, you don't have time to see it properly. This is more of a pleasure visit than a business one.

RS: Are you playing tonight as David Lee or as Joey Negro?
Dave Lee: I suppose it's the same, really.

RS: Do you play any differently when you're under the different names?
Dave Lee: No, not really. To be honest with you, I'd play the same sort of steam whatever or wherever I play. Obviously you adjust your set slightly for different places, but I normally get billed as Joey Negro because that's the name that people have heard of the most. It doesn't really matter if it's a small place; I still try. I only play records I like, but there's different records for different situations.

RS: Since we're talking about finding the right songs, how did you find your songs for KINGS OF DISCO?
Dave Lee: I've done quite a few disco compilations, and Dmitri and I decided the two things we were looking for. The first was songs that are pretty obscure. Sometimes I look at lineup of a compilation album and think, well, I've got half of these already. So we wanted to keep stuff maybe people didn't know. Not to say there isn't lots of good stuff that's known, but we wanted it to be sort of trainspottery and obscure but also quite playable, which is the second thing we were looking for. That's why it's not really mixed, so people can play within their house set or within a disco set. It's not just obscure and interesting, it's something you could realistically play within a DJ set. That's also why some of the tracks are re-edited to make them more DJ-friendly.

I find when I play out, I try to play a lot of disco music within my set, but I often end up putting them into the computer and editing them to make them more compatible with modern records. I suppose we were looking for records we could do that with and that would stand up against contemporary stuff.

RS: With so much to choose from, how did you narrow it down?
Dave Lee: There's loads to choose from, but there's lots of records you can sit at home and play and say, oh yeah, that's quite good. But when you're actually thinking shall I or shall I not put it on a comp when you've only got ten tracks to put on there, there's certain things you think aren't really quite worthy of putting on a compilation album. Or maybe you think of things which have been sampled already and you're trying to find a balance between early-to-mid 80s electronic stuff, a couple of instrumentals, some male vocals, and some female vocals. Just trying to find a balance, I guess. You might be able to think of lots of tracks, but they're all, say, male vocal tracks from 1978 which have probably got a similar sound to them. So we try to balance it up. Maybe Dmitri's got a couple of tracks with a slight reggae influence. I'm more into the 80s boogie-type stuff, but we want to make sure we haven't got too much of the same sort of thing. You try to have a reasonable amount of variety.

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