There are few clubs in the world with a reputation like Sankeys. Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary with a tour which will stop at The Arches in Glasgow this weekend, the Manchester institution began as an underground beacon for the north, but is now recognised globally with sister clubs in New York and Ibiza. As a resident at the Manchester venue since 2011 (and a punter for many years before), Joseph Kindred aka Jozef K has been on an extraordinary journey as a DJ, graduating from dancefloor to booth.
“I was hooked on the subculture instantly” he tells us, reflecting on his early days at Sankeys. “I just knew that was the environment for me; it was an instant connection." Visiting the club whenever he could, Jozef eventually found his way into a work experience role at the Sankeys’ office. His big opportunity came when club director, David Vincent, and long-standing resident, Greg Vickers, needed someone to fill a slot at Tribal Sessions. “Greg asked me to do a mix CD to show what I would play like” he continues, “I was that nervous recording it I could hardly mix.” Needless to say, they liked what they heard and Jozef’s first set in Sankeys’ basement was a huge success. “It felt surreal” he tells us, reflecting on his debut. “I kept the music deep, intense and slow before Greg came on and didn’t try to steal the limelight. I think being an uber music nerd and attending Sankeys from start to finish most weeks helped me.”
Three years later Jozef was sworn in as a resident and he’s never looked back. “I became a DJ that David and Greg trusted” he confirms; last year he was even asked to be a resident at Tribal Sessions in Ibiza where he won Best Newcomer at the club’s award ceremony. “DJ’ing is what gets me out of bed in the morning and I put maximum effort in to my sets” he tells us. As someone who’s grafted from the very beginning, Jozef certainly deserves his plaudits, but it’s undoubtedly his love of Sankeys and what he learned in that legendary basement which made him into the DJ he is today.
Check out our full interview with Jozef below, as well as his new EP with Winter Son and a recording of their recent live set:
SG: Sankeys has obviously played a huge role in your career; what were your first experiences at the club like before you got behind the decks?
Jozef: I used to be a regular at Tribal Sessions as a clubber aged 17/18 and I was hooked on the subculture instantly. I just knew that was the environment for me; it was an instant connection. I will never forget being absolutely spangled watching Stephan Bodzin bite down on his MIDI stick! As well as Greg Vickers’ warm-up sets - they were mainly what inspired me to start DJ'ing.
SG: How did you eventually graduate from dancefloor to DJ booth? Can you remember what your first set was like at Sankeys and how you felt?
Jozef: It felt surreal as I used to come to the club all the time as a youngster without knowing anyone. The residency came about when fliers were handed out advertising a work experience position to help out in the office. After an interview with David Vincent and Greg Vickers I was asked to start, and after a few months in the office the situation arose were a slot became available in the basement for a Tribal Sessions night. Greg asked me to do a mix CD to show what I would play like; I was that nervous recording it I could hardly mix. Later that week we were driving with my mix on and Greg asked what a particular track was as he was feeling it (the track was Manuel Tur – ‘Deviate’). I remember it like yesterday as it was this that caught Greg’s attention; we listened to the rest of the mix and after approval I was allowed to play in the basement. My first ever basement gig was on October 10th 2008. When I played I kept the music deep, intense and slow before Greg came on and didn’t try to steal the limelight, which to be honest I have seen a lot people do in the basement as it’s a historically famous club room and people may want to seize their chance. However, playing all your best records in a warm up set is not usually the best option and thankfully I saw the bigger picture. I think being an uber music nerd and attending Sankeys from start to finish most weeks helped me make this musical decision.
From there, more gigs opened up and I became a DJ that David and Greg trusted; though one time in 2009 I received a serious warning from David saying that “If you ever play as deep and boring again you will be banned from playing the basement forever” - on certain nights before certain DJ’s I used to love keeping it super deep in the early hours of Tribal. I wanted to lock people under a spell instead of dictating to them; I would play music for the mind, although admittedly it may have gone over some people’s heads at times. It was all part of the learning process and taught me to read the crowd as well as showing warm-up restraint. I cannot imagine many 19 year olds have received a warning for being too reserved as a DJ; maybe for getting too carried away would be more likely and I am quite proud of that fact, even if that does bracket me in the complete nerd category. My Sankeys residency was officially confirmed in May 2011, and during my first set I was so nervous that I forgot to turn the monitors on!
SG: You were also a resident at Tribal Sessions at Sankeys Ibiza last year where you won ‘Best Newcomer’ at their awards ceremony. What was it like being out there for a whole summer with the Sankeys crew? Any nights that really stood out?
Jozef: Good! It was a wicked season; I partied very hard but I was 25 with a weekly DJ residency in Ibiza so what do you expect haha. The opening party was my favourite as I was told to carry on playing for an extra hour as I had the room rocking so much!
SG: We were just reading a post from your Facebook page where you talk about the magic of playing a closing set; it seems like you have a real passion for the art of DJ’ing? Do you think that concept is lost on some of the younger producer/DJs coming through?
Jozef: It’s a slowly dying art form I think, and it fucking depresses me. It’s automatically assumed that when an artist releases a big track they are amazing DJs and a lot of the time it isn’t the case. DJ’ing is what gets me out of bed in the morning; I put maximum effort in to my sets and I think 99% of the time it goes unnoticed – but you have to learn to play for yourself without being patted on the back, which is more rewarding overall.
SG: We’ve got your new EP with Winter Son cranked up on the monitors at the moment (sorry neighbours); can you tell us a little about the collaboration and how you approach production? There seems to be an almost cinematic quality to the release which we love.
Jozef: That made me laugh about the neighbours! We both met in Berghain (which I have been told by one magazine is such a ‘techno cliché’, which also made me laugh!). We are both massive music nerds so we just get on - he comes from a background of two brooding electronica bands, Ghosting Season and Worriedaboutsatan, the latter of which have an album dropping soon which I have heard a preview of and is absolutely lovely.
When we get in the studio we just try and make stuff that is super emotional (my favourite word) and moves you; it’s a pretty simple approach, even if you hate our music I think you can hear that it’s coming from the heart, mainly because it fucking is. I made a tune about my ex last year, trying to be Morrissey or something; obviously we split up and obviously I won’t be making that mistake again, it puts me in a bad mood every time I hear it haha. It’s funny though at least.
SG: You’ll be joining us here in Glasgow as part of the Sankey’s 20th Anniversary Tour at The Arches this Saturday; is Glasgow somewhere you’ve visited or played before? And what can we expect from your set?
Jozef: Yeah, played in Stereo before which was a wicked party. I really love Glasgow - it’s like Scotland’s Manchester! I think I am closing up (on Saturday), so expect 100% emotional scenes. I want the whole gaff in tears by the time I’ve finished!