UK-based artist Zak Joshua first broke through on the electronic music scene when his debut solo track Figure It Out was uploaded to renowned tastemaker YouTube channel Selected. It has since gone on to accrue over 5 million views with a subsequent official release updated with new vocals and a fresh sonic polish in 2019. This set the wheels in motion for a re-evaluation of Zak’s goals as an artist, and a renewed ambition to make his mark on the dance scene at large.
Connect with Zak Joshua on Facebook | Instagram | Soundcloud
This month Zak kicks off his new label NEMESIS92 – the name of which pays homage to his father’s rave promotions of the 80s and 90s – with “You Don’t Love Me Like You Say You Do”: a slick deep, progressive house cut that serves as the perfect entry point to his richly melodic style.
Tell us how you’ve dealt with this crazy year – expect there have been high and low points?
What a year! There have been tremendous highs & drastic lows for sure. I’m very lucky that my family & I have not been directly impacted by the virus itself, although I know friends that have. I won’t lie, the first few months were a refreshing opportunity to slow life down and reflect, make plans & relax. I managed to get lots of music finished during that time. I’m a relatively introverted person, so while I miss being able to go out with friends and DJ at the weekends, having that time off didn’t scare me too much! However, as time has gone on and the weather has turned, it has certainly got much harder. I cant imagine how tough it has been for those people who crave social interaction!
Do you think the industry as a whole needs to take lessons from this pandemic?
I think so. Not just our industry! I think we are in a world now where it is fashionable to live at or beyond our means. The world is capable of changing in an instant, and we have become very arrogant in our belief that global events don’t really affect us. As a result, when something like this happens we are unable to adapt. There have been many nightclubs and other venues sadly go to the wall this year, many of them long-running institutions, and it has real life-changing effects on those that lose their jobs, as well as the wider culture. The industry was already struggling before this so I think we will see massive changes going forward.
The industry was already struggling before this so I think we will see massive changes going forward.
As we’ve all been so starved of live music, can you tell us your personal favourite memory from clubbing in the past?
I know you asked for a clubbing answer, but to be honest the main thing that I miss is being able to go round to the wonderful little jazz bar 30 seconds from my apartment, to listen to amazing musicians and singers as the sun sets over the terrace at the height of summer. I can’t wait to do that again!
From checking out your back catalogue there’s quite a range of stuff there. Do you find it boring just to stick to one specific style?
First and foremost I am a music lover, and that includes music from all sorts of genres. Techno, Pop, Classical, R&B, you name it, there will be at least one artist I love for most genres. So, for me personally, sticking to one particular style is not going to happen. I certainly have a certain ‘taste’ in melodic, mood-driven music (often in minor keys) that is a common thread across the music I listen to & that I create. I find that I use the umbrella term of ‘Dance Music’ quite often when asked to describe my music!
I find that I use the umbrella term of ‘Dance Music’ quite often when asked to describe my music!
Tell us about your studio set up… do you have a specific way of working, or is it more about experimentation?
My studio setup is pretty simple at the moment; it’s just me, my MacBook, audio interface, Akai Midi keyboard, and my trusty AKG K550 headphones. I utilise lots of virtual instruments, in particular the hardware emulations from Arturia, as well the Oberheim emulation from pluginalliance. If I am planning to record a vocalist, I will decamp to a recording studio I help to run in Leicester, called HQ Recording. I have a pretty nailed on work-flow now, which tends to go like this; when I am feeling particularly creative, I will come up with lots of little ideas that take half an hour or so to record. Normally these are instrumental ideas, but every now and again I will receive some vocals to start me off. Once I have numerous ideas floating about (normally around 15-20), I will go through them and pick out the best 2 or 3 to flesh out and finish. I also mix & master my own releases, and I find that separating the production, mixing & mastering processes into 3 distinct stages helps me to be more efficient with my time.
Tell us about the naming of your label – quite a cool story behind it right?
I like to think so! ‘NEMESIS92’ takes it’s name from my Dad’s early 1990’s rave promotion company, ‘NEMESIS’. They were one of the first large scale legal rave promoters in the UK, putting on events with the likes of Carl Cox & The Prodigy at the start of their careers. Originally, I had wanted to come up with a new name for my own brand, but I kept coming back this name, and I have a close relationship with my dad, so I felt that this would be a fitting tribute to him.
Are you still in touch with your dad and if so does he give you any advice/feedback on your music?
Yes, we are very close, and he loves my music (although I suppose that he has to say that!)
As we’re reaching the end of 2020, can you give us your top 3 records of the year?
Prospa – Ecstasy
Bronson – Heart Attack
Hunter//Game – Dark Aster
What can we expect from you in 2021?
I am planning to just keep building on what I have managed to achieve this year! In 2021 I have lots of releases lined up, on my label & others, that range from pretty heavy melodic techno, to lo-fi house, to more accessible vocal house with some brilliant vocalists.