Thanks to the runaway success of his heavyweight ‘OMG’ single on New York house label Strictly Rhythm, William Djoko has finally hit the dizzy heights that his talents always suggested he would. Before moving into DJing and production, the naturally optimistic artist trained as a dancer and was often asked to jump on the mic at house and techno parties. He brings this element of showmanship to all his DJ sets, acting as an energetic link between the crowd and the music he loves so much.
It’s a style that has seen Djoko go from resident Dj at legendary Amsterdam venue Trouw to being a regular behind the decks at highly regarded festivals and club nights around the World. Where he was once out front amongst the dancers showing his appreciation, he is now on stage, Djing alongside friends and heroes at such high profile venues and events as Concrete in Paris, Printworks in London, Warehouse Project in Manchester and Motion in Bristol. He currently holds a residency at hot Amsterdam venue Shelter and London promoters LWE.
We caught up with William Djoko as he’s about to perform at Marrakech’s Oasis Festival on September 14th.
EG: Hi William, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. You’ve got a really interesting back story of how you got started. What was it that made you decide to transition from dancing to DJing?
William Djoko: Hi, my pleasure. I’ve always had a love for entertaining people around me, either family or friends. Growing up I’d always be the Dj or at least the one bringing the music. The café across the water of my neighborhood allowed me to be in control during special nights and festivities like Queens Day. The transition started when I was around 19 years old and my knee gave out during a hip hop class while doing an intense routine. After that recovery I was introduced to my friend’s techno parties where they needed an MC and just handed me a microphone saying “your English is great and we think you should do our intro’s” and I never looked back 😉
EG: What skills from your career as a dancer have you found helpful now that you’re on the other side behind the decks?
William Djoko: I know how I can use my physicality to transfer certain energy and emotions. This, of course, comes in exquisitely well for my performances.
EG: Tell us about the inspiration for your recent collaboration for ‘Out of Reach’ with Loco Dice. It’s certainly a wild ride! What was the creative process working on this project with director Rakhim Helm?
William Djoko: Thank you, it was a wild ride indeed after last year Loco Dice contacted me around Christmas to collaborate on his album. He sent me a loop on which he could clearly felt there was space for us to work together on the track. I actually made several different ideas cause originally as I was clueless about what he was looking for. Then after sending him some drafts, Dice was clear, “I want Amsterdam 90’s UK Djoko flavor”, he said. It made me laugh because he basically just gave me carte blanche to come up with wild ideas, so I did!
Working with Rakim and his team was the perfect day and very fun. His insight into what he wants is very straight forward. So we just played our part and he and his team basically did all the rest making it into one trippy adventure.
EG: You’ve held a residency at Shelter in Amsterdam for some time now. Who have been some of your favorite past guests? Any upcoming guests you’re really excited about?
William Djoko: Having this residency with Shelter is an absolute dream. The club, the incredible soundsystem, the programming, the door and bar staff. All are fully invested and give their all.
I’ve had guest ranging from Mr. G to Craig Richards, from Joe Hessle Audio to Black Coffee. The last edition we had local NL talents who really rocked it and made me so proud. I feel really free in getting artists over and having them do what they love and have a great night together from dinner to finish.
On end of September, I’m delighted to announce we have the legendary French duo Cassius over! which means the world to me… because I mean…come on! It’s Cassius. Evenmore, because I just finished my remix for their track ‘W18’, which will be out around that same time. And let me tell you it’s one of my proudest moments!
EG: In June, one of your best sets was a back-to-back with Bambanou closing out the main floor. What forces combined to make it so special?
William Djoko: It was the second week of the season, and we only found out our set time really late – after Kerri Chandler and before Jamie Jones whom would be playing the closing set on the terrace of DC-10. Just those facts alone made like “Wow, is this really happening??” It’s like discovering you’re on the starting lineup of your favorite team in a national final if that makes any sense. And when it was time to perform, the chemistry between us was just out of this world, having my manager, a lot of Dj friends and Circoloco fam behind us. It was very heartwarming and something I feel blessed to be able to experience while being on stage doing what I love most. We smashed that show!
EG: Once upon a time, you were a resident at the infamous and since shuttered Amsterdam club, Trouw. Do you have a favorite memory from spinning there you can share with us?
EG: Just too many to think of one specifically. I mean at that time I had my studio right across the street from my favorite place in the world. Me and a whole other bunch of friends, week after week would be there for lunch, dinner and club nights. Boris Werner and my night was called ‘Late Night Society’ where the theme was late 20’s jazz club ‘dress up chic, act like trash’ kinda idea. And act accordingly we did , really fun times! Whether it was our team outings with all the DJs and staff combined or shooting the next ridiculous summer break video. It was a real fam. Just the feeling I get from thinking back to those times, discovering who we were and meeting so many new people hearing all these different styles of forward-thinking music really gave the right blueprint for who I am today and will become in the near future. The tears when the place closed down… but also room for new initiatives to blossom which arose from those same tears. If that’s really true I highly doubt it, but it sounds nice saying it like that!
EG: You’re on the lineup for Oasis Festival this September in Morocco. Who are you most looking forward to seeing?
William Djoko: Yeah, so excited to be part of this festival. It’s going to be my first time out there, and I can’t wait. Marrakech has been on my “to see” cities list for ages. I don’t know, just some feeling of mysticism surrounds that destination. Who I want to see is pretty hard, I mean have you seen that line up, like wow! I recently met Cinthie via Instagram after I posted a video of Bambounou & me playing her track ‘Push It’ at DC10 and she was like “that’s my track you’re playing!”. We never met in real life before but love her stuff! Also I’d say the big don Carl Cox, and of course my hero, DJ Koze.
EG: What else is on the cards for William Djoko for the rest of 2018?
William Djoko: There’s so much going on. This August I had the pleasure of playing like 80% of my shows in the Netherlands which gave me so much time to think back, plan and even really appreciate the fact I did not have to leave for the airport every few days. Who would’ve thought that would be anything I’d ever say, I’m happy not to have to go to the airport . It felt luxurious and I’m more than motivated to take on new adventures all around the globe. My releases are planned out nicely, I did a remix for my teenage heroes Cassius and early October we’re going to kick off a new multiple event concept in London in cooperation with London Warehouse Events for my residency with them. Also at Amsterdam Dance Event I’m playing a couple of really exciting, huge shows. We’re crossing the last t’s and putting the final dots of the proverbial i’s on several projects and I cannot wait to let the fans know what we’re up to. Everything is coming together and I’m fully committed to closing 2018 with a lot of love, music and shared energy.