DJ Joe Grossman -Interview By: Liam Sweeny
Written by Staff on September 10, 2022
There’s a universe that operates on a natural law of rhythm, of galaxies spinning on the turntable of a black hole and the intricate interplay of planets passing by, moons revolving in such a way we could set our watch to them, and in a way, we do. And on this planet, there are trenches. And in those trenches, there are DJs, wielding raw rhythm to move people about in their own orbits.
DJ Joe Grossman is someone you maybe haven’t heard of in the Capital Region, but if you were in Manhattan and you knew the right people, the right bouncer to bribe, you might just know who he was. He’s firmly revolving in the orbit of the New York party scene.
RRX: When I think of DJs, I think of old school record-scratching and loops, which is me tipping my hat and letting my age spill out. And DJs produce a whole sound, but I feel like a DJs must share a kinship with drummers, because rhythm and timing play such an important role. How would you compare what you do with what a drummer does?
JG: They have similarities, but rhythm and timing are the main two that come to mind. That’s basically one kinship I think all musicians share. I’m sure a lot of people would say there are no similarities because as a drummer you’re creating music in real time and as a DJ you play tracks that are already produced, but there are a lot DJ’s like myself that basically produce live during their sets. For example, playing a kick drum or bass line from one track and then layering hi hats or drum samples over it and then adding an acapella. By doing that you can create a live remix that nobody’s ever heard before.
RRX: You are a New Yorker, which is how I got turned on to you. But you’re in the Manhattan scene, and while Albany and New York City definitely share some culture, some of the mindset, we’re worlds apart. What is the Manhattan DJ scene like? I mean socially, how would you describe the daily grind of the dance scene?
JG: To be honest it’s changed so much over the years it’s hard to really describe, it’s ever evolving. When I first got into DJing it was all vinyl. There was no social media. All the promoters used gorilla marketing with flyers and street teams. The scene was a lot more organic then, a lot more personal. But some things in NY always stay the same. The better DJ’s and promoters have weathered every storm and are still here. However, the focus has shifted from Manhattan to Brooklyn over the past few years. But NY is the city that never sleeps. So, nightlife will always be a staple here.
RRX: One thing I’ve always felt is that venue is the “fifth instrument,” or in your case, the “second DJ.” Where you are can either limit you, or give you an insane rush, and make you hit new heights. So, you’ve probably played in some pretty unique places. What kind of place charges you creatively? Can you give me an example of a place like that?
JG: There really are so many unique places. One that comes to mind is in Acapulco, Mexico. There is a venue called Hannah Sun Club which is basically on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean and the entire club is surrounded by an infinite pool. One of the most amazing moments I’ve ever had was playing music there when the sun went down. But each city and venue has its uniqueness. And it’s up to the DJ to understand the venue and the crowd and make the music work in that specific situation. But the crowd’s energy is really what drives me creatively. Even more than the venue, I feed off the crowd’s energy.
RRX: One of the things that interests me about DJs and DJing is that aside from the electronic elements you create yourself, you get to sample the music of others. So, you get to create for people, but while creating, as a part of that, you get to expose people to music that kicks for you. What kind of music do you look for to sample?
JG: I love classics, there’s just something about hearing a classic vocal sample that might have been forgotten for a while just come through the speakers. Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Beastie Boys, Biggie. I have a list a mile long with so many artists and different styles of music. There have been so many times that I’ve been driving and a song comes on the radio and it just gives you an idea for a remix or a sample.
RRX: When I say DJing, I’m kind of like a toddler pointing to everything and calling it ‘water.’ I know that there is DJing, but there’s also EDM, or electronic dance music. And for this interview, I hit Google. And Google doesn’t seem to know the difference. So, here’s your chance to school Google; what’s the difference between DJing and EDM?
JG: Well, DJing is the art of playing music and EDM is the style of music that DJs play. EDM breaks down into tons of different genres and styles like techno, tech house, house music, tribal, deep house, progressive, etc… There have been so many new genres that have emerged over the past few years and new ones are created almost monthly. My style is more techno, tech house and tribal.
RRX: There are none of us islands; we all have other people in our orbits. For you, other DJs, other performers, notable rave kids and scene and scene legends. So, in your world, I don’t want to say you might have favorites, but maybe a couple of cool and interesting people you think deserve some recognition. Recognize!
JG: I grew up in the NY music scene so I’m always going to be partial to my NY DJ’s. A lot of my inspiration growing up came from listening to legends like Danny Tenaglia, Victor Calderone, Boris, I’ve always just loved that big powerful NY sound. Then as time went on, I also took a liking to other sounds as well from a lot of other DJs like Carl Cox, Steve Lawler, Solomun, Chus n Ceballos. The list goes on.
RRX: This is where you answer the question I didn’t ask. Comments? Remarks? Educate, enlighten, emote – the floor is yours.
JG: Well first and foremost I’d like to thank you Liam and RadioradioX for taking the time to do this interview. It’s always an amazing feeling for me to see people interested in what I do. And I’d also like to thank all the people that continue to support my music. All the promoters and fans that support my events are what allow me to do what I love and I’m forever grateful for that.
Music and the music scene is changing every day and to keep up with that I’ll always try to keep learning, growing and entertaining crowds. Sometimes DJ’s forget that the people on the dance floor worked all week and dealt with the stress of their lives and that one night is their release, their moment to forget everything and just enjoy the music. As a DJ I’m responsible for giving them an amazing show and I’ll always do my best to do that.