— Joker —

Part One of a special two-part interview with Joker — Here he is on growing up in Bristol, Kold Hearted Krew, decks, keyboards, Rooted Records, Fruity Loops and Skepta’s ‘D.T.I.’

(All photos submitted by Joker)

When our FaceTime chat window opens up on Friday night, Joker sat comfortably in his home studio, walls adorned with hardware and equipment on different racks and instruments scattered across the room, I have no idea I’m about to get the full inside track into the formative years of one of UK dance music’s most unique minds. We speak for an hour and a half and only cover enough ground to make it to the story of ‘Gully Brook Lane’, originally released on Terrorhythm in 2008 — one of the OG Joker productions that would change his life forever. “There’s still loads I’m missing out”, he’d say at various points, exasperated by his own forgetfulness, but from his first experiences of hearing music to his first experiences of buying music, he tells his story with passion and heart. This is part one of that conversation.

“I guess not much has changed for me over the last few months”, he says with a wry smile when I ask about how he’s been getting on. “Producers like me have kinda been hermits from day one, do you know what I mean? Obviously gigs have gone and most people I know survived by being on the road so it’s a bit long to see everyone going through a difficult time. But that aside, it’s been a good time to just think, bruv. A time to not panic. It’s not every year you get time to yourself for a few months.”

After sharing a back-and-forth about playing at the new defunct Mint Club in Leeds back in 2009, one of my own most cherished clubbing memories, Joker starts to dial the clock back. A hoarder of production files and data by his own admission — “I always think they might be important one day” — he still has some of his earliest Joker beats from 2004/5 saved on a hard drive, which he and his girlfriend recently started to sift through. “Sometimes there’s beats I can have made in like, 2009, and I’ll like them but then I’ll think to myself, what’s going on in 2009?”, he says. “Even thought I don’t really operate by looking at what’s going on around me, sometimes things don’t feel right. Then, three years later, four years later, I’ll be like ‘bruv, this is READY!’. This makes so much more sense now.”

Weaving in and out of memories, almost like filing cabinets opening in his mind as we talk, conversation quickly turns to his first interactions with music; Joker knew from a young age that he heard music differently to everybody else. “I remember as far back as being the kid who would get in the back of my mum’s friend’s car and ask them if I could change the equaliser settings on their speakers”, he says with total conviction. “As a kid, I could just hear it. I knew it wasn’t right, I knew things could sound so much better.” He also recalls hearing and immediately liking jungle and the music on the computer games he used to play. “Sonic, all the SEGA shit really, I loved that stuff”, he says smiling. “The Nintendo shit was great as well but I never had a Nintendo, so I’d just hear it now and again. I guess it’s the same for all kids really, whether they’re aware of it or not, computer game music is a big thing. For our generation it was anyway, I feel like computer game music now is just one of his tunes, one of her tunes, one of their tunes on a playlist.” Would he like to score a computer soundtrack one day? “Ah yeah bruv, of course. I’d merk that quickly!”

“I remember as far back as being the kid who would get in the back of my mum’s friend’s car and ask them if I could change the equaliser settings on their speakers.”

He was also influenced by the music his mum would play at home in Bristol, where he was born and still lives; ‘90s RnB, jungle, dancehall. But there was one of other genre of music that sounded different to everything else he was familiar with. “There was something that’d always make me feel a certain type of way when I heard it and that was garage”, he explains. “I loved jungle but as a kid, I could really feel garage, I could hear how two different tracks worked. It wasn’t the first track I knew but I definitely remember hearing ‘Little Man’, (a now iconic record lifted from Sia’s second album ‘Hearing Is Difficult’ back in 2001, produced by Wookie), when I was about 11 or 12 bruv.”

“What else do I remember?”, he says to himself, leaning back in his chair and looking around the room. “I remember having a keyboard, definitely. I remember there was a car garage about 10 doors down from my house and after 5pm, they’d close. At the front of that garage, there was a plug on one of the outside walls. There was a plug, bruv. So I used to take my keyboard down the road, plug it in outside the garage and play little demo songs and hit the keys. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing but you remember what it was like growing up in the ‘90s bruv. There was NOTHING to do, but in a good way. It’s what kids need now I think. Like there’s only so many times you can play Sonic before you die and you need to turn it off.”

Soon, the family would move house and to a different area of Bristol and Joker found himself swapping the keyboard for his FM dial. “I remember being sat in my bedroom, it was between 8 and 10pm, I’m still a young kid at this point. I’m dialling through the radio … ah bro, this makes us sound so old. It’s not really an age thing, but more a technology changing kinda thing innit? Anyway I’m dialling through the radio frequencies, I don’t really know what I’m looking for but I’m just moving it around. All of a sudden I landed on this one frequency and bruv”, he says with a dramatic pause, “I can hear stuff that I like but even better. It’s not just one song, or two or three, or on a tape my mum’s playing. It was just this! Loads of different versions and variations of sounds I’ve never heard before. I know my brain works quite quick but I’m just stuck, staring at this radio dial. I can’t even explain how it felt. I could hear man spitting bars, I’m just hearing riddims. For the first time in my life, and bear in mind I’ve always loved music, always had a Walkman, always listened to riddims, but for the first time it was just like, ‘WHAT THE FUCK?!’. For the rest of that week I was tuning my radio dial, bruv. I kept doing it until I remembered what day the show was running, what time it was on, who the people and DJs were and I would make sure I’d tune in. I guess it was grime, but people were still calling it garage at the time, as well as playing garage records alongside it. I’m pretty sure that was one of the first times I found myself super gassed about music and wanting to know more.”

As a kid, Joker recalls always having a makeshift setup in his room too; he was obsessed with getting music to sound right, whether it was ‘Little Man’ or crackly pirate radio broadcasts. “I had a system in my room yeah, a small system, some shit amp and about 25 speakers, bruv. Seriously, I would just collect speakers. They’d go into different places in my room and I’d wire them all back to this one amp. I was there thinking I was creating some mad wall of sound and honestly, it sounded like shit. There was no bass, it wasn’t setup right. But I guess I’ve always been into music, like somehow it’s just been there, in me.”

“I had a system in my room yeah, a small system, some shit amp and about 25 speakers, bruv. Seriously, I would just collect speakers.”

Secondary school was also fertile ground for his musical obsessions to grow and start to take shape. Joker went to primary and secondary school with his friend Ashley, son of Roni Size, who he’d known since he was five years old and would inadvertently introduce him to a crew that would change his trajectory for good. “Ashley was in a crew called Kold Hearted Krew”, he says matter of factly, “or KHK. A few of them went to our school and a few went to other schools, like Buggsy. Have you heard of Javeon McCarthy (now known as simply Javeon) as well? He was Kold Hearted Crew too. It seems like so long ago now, but when you’re young everything just feels like a blur.”

“What I remember about back then”, he continues, “was that they were all sick. I remember hearing Ashely’s beats and as a kid, just being exposed to new shit that he was coming up with and being like ‘YOU MADE THAT? LIKE, HOW? HOW DO YOU MAKE MUSIC LIKE THAT?’. Anyway, it was at that point I knew I needed to get decks. I’d tried spitting bars but I didn’t like my voice. I still don’t like my voice. I knew that I needed to DJ because I was not spitting bars, bruv.”

How he’d go about acquiring decks was a different matter. He knew a guy who lived up the road from him was moving house and had put his turntables up for sale for £350 — “I thought that was a pretty good deal back then, even now to be honest” — and knew that he just had to get them. “My mum had bought me some belt drives from Argos for about £40 a little bit before this point, but they were pants, they just weren’t the ting. I sent them back and one day I remember my mum was really, really, really tired, so I begged her for the £350”, he says, laughing.”It was money under the bed so to speak, things weren’t on a silver spoon for me but at that time, there was money there. I remember saying to her like, ‘this guy’s gonna go … I’ve just gotta get these decks!’. You know when you’re a kid and you’re tying to convince someone something is a good idea, it was like that. I pushed for long enough that she eventually was like ‘just take it!’. I counted up the money, went up the road and paid the guy. He gave me a shit mixer, two 1210s and bruv, somehow I’ve been able to swindle myself the top setup, which felt like it was impossible. So now, I’ve got two decks and a mixer on the floor yeah … and no records.”

He would go on to borrow his mum’s make-up table to use as a desk for his 1210s, and started out on the quest to find and buy records. “I remember the first few records I owned … ‘Urban Hero’ by Jameson, and these times you could just pick up bigger records in HMV. You couldn’t get the underground crud but some of the more commercial bits were in there. When did Ja Rule first come around? ‘Always On Time’ … 2001 that’s it. I think I had that on CD or vinyl. Ah, I remember I got a bunch of Bingo Beats records off someone as well, because Zinc was selling those like hot cakes back then, they were popular.”

“Now”, he continues, building suspense as if narrating his own audio book, “my next move is to find a crew. Man ain’t EZ you know? In those days, I needed to be in a crew. At the time, there was a DJ called DJ Chucky and he played with Kold Hearted Krew. He was a bit older but he was really sick. In all honesty, I was shit, bruv. I was shit. I had zilch idea. I didn’t know that if one record was playing at one speed and if the other one was slower, you’d have to speed it up. No one told me, bruv. Who was I gonna ask? The internet doesn’t exist, how do you DJ?”.

“I didn’t know that if one record was playing at one speed and if the other one was slower, you’d have to speed it up. No one told me, bruv. Who was I gonna ask?”

For all his early struggles behind a pair of decks, it didn’t stop Joker from leaving the house without his record box. He took it everywhere — “I just loved it bruv, so much” — and he recalls being able to just walk all over Bristol and find places to play whatever records he had; youth centres, people’s houses, random spaces he’d stumble across. He was now at the point where he felt fully immersed in KHK and was invested in records; he was buying regularly, even managing to get hold of some of his favourite Geeneus 12”s. Under the surface though, he felt like he couldn’t just be a DJ. Crews were making songs. He needed to make beats.

“At this point, there was no money under the bed”, Joker recalls. “We can’t afford a computer, do you know what I mean? My mum had a friend, and I still see him at the gym sometimes now, who I still have a lot of respect for. I’ve not said this to him before but I think there’ll come a time where I have to say, ‘you bought my first ever computer for me’. I would go round his house and chill and he’d have a desktop computer that he’d let me use. He bought a record for me as well, a Geeneus record I really wanted, and music has always been emotional for me, it hits man differently you know? So when he did that, I said to him, ‘fam, you have no idea’. I had no money, the internet’s not really around, record stores were only just starting to move their catalogues online. It was emotional. I now had this mad record that I could play at every speed until I got bored.”

“I knew a guy who was selling a computer”, Joker continues, “and I let my mum’s friend know because he knew a lot about computers and just asked if he thought he’d be able to help. Without hesitation, he bought me the computer, bruv. That was it. I had 1210s, a mixer and now a computer. The next challenge was making beats.” His friend and fellow KHK member Ashley, who was emceeing and producing under the name Dvs at the time, was already well versed in Fruity Loops, which would serve as Joker’s entry point into software; “I remember going round to his house one day and just saying, bruv, show me.”

He’d watch Ashley build drum patterns and was shocked by how easy it seemed — “I was saying to him, man can play James Bond on piano” — but was still yet to have a go at making his own original music. “Fruity Loops to me was a demo that you download, that you make songs in, and when you finish one, you export it and close it and there was no saving”, he says intently. “You don’t save songs, you don’t reopen songs, there’s no plugins, that is that. Obviously now I’d never be cool with that but back then I was like, ‘I AM MAKING MUSIC, BRUV!’.

The first Joker beats he got down in Fruity Loops were remakes of tracks he loved, but didn’t have a vinyl copy of; songs he could only find via a radio rip or through a recording on an old tape. Checking Discogs before playing a clip of ‘I Will Not Lose’ by Wiley (producing as Wiley Kat) featuring Breeze, Danny Ishance & Jet Lee, he’s shocked to find out it was released in 2001. “Bruv, I had no idea where to get it, but I wanted it and I needed to hear it … so I made it”, he says humming the track’s beat. “I didn’t make my own version either, I just re-made it to sound just like the original. It helped me as well because I needed to see how something was made, to understand what it looked like on a screen.”

At this point, Joker still couldn’t DJ. “Believe it or not, I had a dream”, he says sheepishly. “And in that dream, I put my hand on a record to speed it up and I started moving the pitch fader at the same time to catch it up with the other record. I woke up and I thought, ‘bro, I know how to beat match’. I swear on my life, I woke up and it was like ‘I’M IN!’. I used to look on records, looking at the 45rpm and the 33rpm speeds thinking that there was a gonna be a +1 or a +2 that’d tell me where to pull it. I had no idea. But yeah, I knew how to DJ from that moment. I’d only get about 20 seconds of chopping where it’d match up, because at this point I wasn’t up to being able to hold a mix, but it was a start.”

“Believe it or not, I had a dream and in that dream, I put my hand on a record to speed it up and I started moving the pitch fader at the same time to catch it up with the other record. I woke up and I thought, ‘bro, I know how to beat match’. I swear on my life, I woke up and it was like ‘I’M IN!’.”

It wasn’t long after learning to beat match that Joker and KHK got their first ever radio show, on a Bristol station called Reality FM — the same radio station that first exposed him to the mind-altering garage beats he’d tuned into three years before; it felt like he’d made it. “It’s hard to explain how ghetto it was”, he says, laughing. “I know people have seen photos of the old Rinse FM studios and the flats, but this shit was worse. It was just off Stokes Croft and it was basically down a small lane. You’d get to a door and to get in, you had to kinda bust it open. There was a staircase full of rubbish, bruv. I used to go radio holding my nose. To this day I have no idea who owned that place or what was going on, but once you got upstairs, there were belt drive turntables in a small room and yeah, we had our time there. Back then, man was ‘GASSED’! For real though, the thought that people could be listening in was massive for us. Even though it was just the beginning, we felt like we’d made it, we had our Bristol ting. It was real.”

Moving house again, Joker had now caught the bug. His appetite for consuming, making and playing music was now insatiable. After going through a few more computers pretty quickly, he recalls being so desperate to keep making beats that he took a disused computer from somebody’s front garden with fellow KHK member Scarz and took it home, plugging it in to find out it actually worked. “I think the hard drive space may have been 4GB”, he explains, almost in disbelief. “Somehow I had to get Fruity Loops downloaded and all my files and programs on there. Bruv, we were deleting vital components that the computer needed to run to make space to record more vocals through headphones. We didn’t have a mic, bruv. We just used whatever we had available and in those times, we really appreciated that. We were gassed to record through whatever side of the headphone we could and show people these songs.”

“Bruv, we were deleting vital components that the computer needed to run to make space to record more vocals through headphones.”

Armed with a growing catalogue of original material, Kold Hearted Krew started to play out in Bristol. “There was two specific youth clubs we played at but to us, none of it was real yet”, Joker explains. “Like, to me, there was Pay As You Go and Heartless Crew. At that age, they all seemed like big, grown men with money, with their own cars, who could get on a stage and do what they wanted and that was it. We weren’t even allowed to be in proper clubs, let alone put on our own nights, but there was one youth event that I can remember was really important to me because it went so well. No one got caught up in anything, there we no fights. It was just three local crews, a four hour show, I think we played first or second. My hands were shaking putting the needle on my records but it was probably the first time in my life where I felt like we were a part of something, I was a part of something.”

“The other DJs with the other crews were six, seven, eight years older than me, so they felt old, they were grown to me”, Joker continues, “and they came over to ask what was in my record box, like I had something that they wanted. It was mad, I felt like ‘bruv, we’re doing this!’.The night itself went sick and everyone had a good time and we just found ourselves thinking about when we could do the next one.”

An introvert by his own admission, the idea of going to clubs was daunting at first — “man don’t dance either, fam” — but he recalls going to see So Solid Crew, one of the first nights he ever went to, as being pivotal in changing his perception of what the club was like and how live music could inspire. “A couple of the So Solid guys came down to Bristol and I went along with a few people from Kold Hearted Krew. We were right at the front and there were loads of people around, everyone looking much older and gyal looking peng, and everyone was jostling and banging into me, I didn’t really know what to do. I was super awkward but I really enjoyed it.”

Joker also recalls another night, this time at Club UK — a problematic venue in the city that has since changed its name numerous times. Waiting outside, Dvs met a young DJ Target, who’d just finished playing a set inside. “One of the big records on road at that time was ‘Poltergeist’, remember that one?”, he asks quizzically. “Dvs, who was a lot louder and more extroverted than me, went up to him to say hello and they got chatting. Target ended up giving him a copy of ‘Poltergeist’, which of course became my record ‘coz I was the DJ! Back then, everyone had vinyl with them at shows and whatever, so it was a good way of networking.”

In and amongst all of this, Rooted Records — a legendary record shop in Bristol in the 00s — had also become a crucial part of Joker’s everyday musical life. The shop counter was often manned by Peverelist, now one of the city’s most iconic exports and a vastly influential producer in his own right, and it quickly became its own community, as well as a vehicle for Joker to experience records he never thought would be available to him. “To me, that place felt like Peverelist’s record shop because I bought most of my music from him”, he says warmly. “He’s been here, do you know what I mean? Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t really have the internet. Internet back then for me was a cafe. I couldn’t go to London to pick up all these big garage or grime records, like someone like DJ Spiney could. He was a bit older, a sick DJ from Bristol, but he had the money to be able to go to London and get all of these records. He had everything, to the point that he could talk to some of the London DJs at the time, it was incredible.”

“It got to the stage where I started going to Rooted Records with or without money, it was like reading a newspaper for man”, Joker continues. “Being able to go there kept my brain stimulated. I bought a lot of records from there, but one record I always wanted and was mythical to me at that age, was ‘D.T.I.’ by Skepta. He was one of the sickest producers growing up but to be honest, grime was my favourite producer growing up. All of the records I own and all of the records I don’t own are my favourite producers, bruv. Anyway, one day I’ve gone in to Rooted and Skepta’s just released ‘D.T.I.’ as a two-pack release on Dice Recordings. I’ve gone in with my brother Otis, and he’s in a pram. He’s 18 now so this must have been about 15, 16 years ago. I saw ‘D.T.I.’ on the racks and I was like ‘OHHHH FUCK’. I can’t explain or accentuate the feeling of what it’s like to see a song because music to people now is just, ‘IT’S OUT’, and you can see what artists are up to every day. Nothing is a secret now, bruv. Even the most mysterious people aren’t mysterious anymore because they’re on the internet.”

“I can’t explain or accentuate the feeling of what it’s like to see a song because music to people now is just, ‘IT’S OUT’, and you can see what artists are up to every day. Nothing is a secret now, bruv. Even the most mysterious people aren’t mysterious anymore because they’re on the internet.”

“Anyway, to see ‘D.T.I.’ on the wall, like I can’t download it, I can’t stream it, the only way for me to able to appreciate this is by waiting for it to arrive at the shop”, he says. “I picked up my brother Otis out the pram and I said to Pev, just hold Otis for me for a sec, I remember it like it was yesterday. I picked up the vinyl, put it on the 1210, put the headphones on and my mind started to explode. I was trying to take it in, looking at the record, the sleeve, everything. I looked at Pev and I said, ‘bruv, how much is this?’. I think he said it was something like £15 so I just looked at him and said, ‘bro, I’ve got £5 and I cannot leave without this record’. He looked at me and said, ‘it’s cool, it’s cool, take the record and bring me the other tenner another time’. I was so thankful. It’s hard to explain that transaction; unless someone’s our age, it’s hard to put it into words. I went straight to Ashley’s house and was just holding the record, screaming at him like, ‘LOOK, LOOOOOOOK!’. We played it and both of us realised that I now had a bomb in the record bag, bruv. Everyone was gonna want to hear this, everyone was gonna wanna spit on it.”

Joker would also end up with another classic slice of grime wax, but this time courtesy of Blazey Bodynod — another iconic Bristol figurehead. “Blazey gave me a test pressing of Wiley – ‘Morgue’ because he thought it sounded shit. Do you know hard that was to get?! Even Spiney, who had everything, didn’t have it! At that time, it was hard to gauge what was real and what wasn’t on vinyl because there we so many copies and bootlegs knocking about, but I’ve gone home and listened to ‘Morgue’ and thought, ‘yeah there’s no way he’s getting this back’. The next KHK radio slot has come up and it was SP’s (St Paul’s Crew) set before us and we were kinda like the younger version of them. You know when you know you’ve got something good coming up, but you wanna keep it a secret? It’s hard. Having ‘Morgue’ on vinyl was like one of those secrets back then. I had to try not to tell anyone, which was really hard for me by the way, so I could just drop it on radio and watch everyone be confused, bruv. It’s got to my time on deck and it’s a normal radio show, I’m flexing 2-2 vinyl and it’s just kinda practice hours, exercise for everyone in the crew. Then all of a sudden, everyone hears ‘Morgue’ coming in. Obviously my face is all like sheepish and kinda coy, I’ve looked around and everyone is losing their minds. I think I ended up playing it 10 times at least, it kept getting jacked and jacked and jacked, everyone wanted a go on it.”

He’d later go onto see Wiley live for the first time after he played a show at Level in Bristol. Walking through the crowd, Joker knew he recognised him but had never seen him up close; “I just knew I was into all his music”, he notes. “Everything feels so normal now, like meeting people and working with people, it’s become my career but back then bruv, especially without the internet, it was crazy. Again, Ashley, just like with DJ Target, went up to Wiley that night and was like ‘yo, yo, yo’ and started chatting to him. A few days later, I’m at home and I get a phone call and it’s Ashley. ‘Bruv, Wiley wants your number’, he said, deadly serious. I was like, ‘what, why?!’ kinda thing but Wiley ended up calling me and saying this and saying that, but he always sounded hectic and busy. It got to a point where I knew nothing would come of it, but to have him on the end of the line as a teenager was mad, still.”

These formative moments would soon form the catalyst for Joker to starting to take his own productions more seriously. Inspired by Garage, computer games, Dr Dre and the G-Funk sound of West Coast rappers — “anything that’s synth-y, jazzy and gritty at the same time” — his first proper beats were lacking the kind of knowhow that would allow him to create the sounds that he was envisioning in his head to start with. “I’ve always been into synths and grime was largely synth-based”, he recalls. “Garage and grime really inspired me, the G-Funk stuff, I was quite clear about what I liked but getting it down on a computer was still something I needed to learn. But even then, I’ve always been me, at whatever stage in my career I’ve been at. The more I learned, the more I tapped deeper into what I was actually trying to express if that makes sense.”

“I’ve always been me, at whatever stage in my career I’ve been at.”

It was through meeting a friend called Henry that Joker was able to learn more about the technical side to physical production too; “I’d just go over there and take a bunch of my files”, he recalls. Henry’s studio, situated above his brother’s pub, was the home of Dub Studio, where he would cut dub plates for DJs in the local area, including Joker. He was also the person to introduce Joker to Pinch, who ended up heading over to Joker’s mum’s maisonette — “it was just floorboards and ting but I was cool back then” — to listen to some of his beats. Those early music sharing sessions ended up seeing Joker getting booked for Dubloaded — a small club night ran by Pinch himself. “For me, that was a key waking-up sort of moment”, Joker reflects. “Until then, I was just a grime kid. If you’d played me anything else at that time, I was not trying to hear it bruv, but I knew Pinch and these guys were making 140 stuff. It might have been called dubstep at that point, it might not, but I knew the bits he was making was dark. A lot of the really early dubstep stuff at that time was not for me because it was so low frequency. I needed that raw, grime energy.”

His first Dubloaded booking saw Joker play at The Croft to a room about half-full. Nervous, he took to the stage with a collection of his own dubs, cut by Henry at Dub Studio, as well as the series of rare grime bits that he’d been picking up however he could. “I played and everyone enjoyed it, there were no fights and crucially, there was no need for an MC”, he says steely-eyed. “I went home and it was like, ‘what the fuck just happened?’. People were happy to watch me DJ and play riddims with no MCs. You’ve gotta think, that does not exist to me at this point. It made me realise that I could put my own energy into running riddims for people. That was a key moment for me; I knew that I could now make music and people would listen to it.”

This change in tact saw Joker channel his efforts into writing new original music, ultimately producing ‘Gully Brook Lane’ — one of his earliest and best-loved productions. It was supposed to form his first ever release but ended up following ’Stuck In The System’ as his second, released by Plastician on Terrorhythm in 2008. “I remember specifically wanting to make something that was a grime track that feels British and gritty but with that West Coast funk thing going on. I remember finishing it and I didn’t know straight away, but something felt different, I kinda liked it. I gave it to Double from SP Crew in Bristol, he recorded a vocal version and obviously at this point, I’m a yute. I didn’t know what to do with the music I was making, I just knew I had to keep going and things would show themselves.”

“Anyway, by this point, I’d got the internet and I had MSN Messenger”, Joker continues. “I remember adding JME because his addy popped up somewhere and I was so gassed to be networking and by this whole online thing. I went to the bathroom, came back and he’d sent a stream of messages like, ‘Who is this? 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, BLOCKED!’ and I was like ‘ahhhh’ (laughs). I’d managed to send ‘Gully Brook Lane’ to a full people anyway, but it got leaked somehow. One day, I got sent a rip of the track via MSN and it was like Flow Dan, Skepta, JME and I can’t remember who was DJing, maybe Logan Sama or Maximum, but all I could hear was ‘Gully Brook Lane’ getting jacked probably 10 times. They were losing their minds and at that time, don’t forget how much I was inspired by Sketpa, I couldn’t believe it.”

“I remember adding JME (on MSN Messenger) because his addy popped up somewhere and I was so gassed to be networking and by this whole online thing. I went to the bathroom, came back and he’d sent a stream of messages like, ‘Who is this? 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, BLOCKED!”

Closing out our first conversation with little pause for breath, it clearly felt like ‘Gully Brook Lane’ was Joker’s eureka moment.The years of hard work and pure love of music had finally come to fruition in the form of a track that encapsulated everything Joker was about — he’d struck a sweet spot, found his production niche and caught the attention of his favourite producer and MC all at once. “The door had now been opened”, Joker concludes proudly, “and I was like, ‘alright, I’m in’.”

Part Two of Joker’s interview goes live next Sunday (July 12) at 6pm BST: https://polymerzine.club/

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