Talking with alternative-soul producer Joe Hertz on his latest project, 'Night / Daze', how  collaboration pushes him creatively and his top tips for new producers.

What was the creative process like for your latest project, ‘Night/Daze’?


Firstly I just wanna say, when I’m making music, I rarely think about where it will fit into a project. The tracks on Night/Daze were all made pretty instinctively. My direction for this project, and for a lot of my stuff in general was to be soulful but also punchy. Trying to blend electronic sounds with an organic feel. So I knew during that time I was working towards a project, but when I was in writing  sessions with artists like Pip Millett or Sam Wills, I tried not to think too much about my other music, just focused on trying to achieve those things sonically. It's only later down the line where there were a bunch of tracks sitting there when my management and I sat down and thought about which ones work well together as a body of work.


  How do you feel that your sound has grown from ‘Chapter One’ to ‘Night/Daze’?


The more I make music in DAWs, the more I want to break away from the constrictions put in place. I became a lot more interested in the beauty of an imperfect take. I’m still always learning about groove and feel but it's such an important thing. It can make or break a drum pattern or chord progression. There's a lifetime of learning just there.

For Night/Daze I incorporated a lot more help from my musician friends. I spent a lot of time getting people in for sessions to jam over stuff and see what we could come up with to push a song further.  


What was the creative process like for your upcoming album 'Current Blues' and what can we expect from the project?


For me at the core it's about enjoyment. Honestly, I'm only having fun if I’m making something true to myself and what I'm feeling at the time. I can’t just follow a trend if I don’t vibe with it. I'm not worried where my sound will fit in, but more does it excite me personally.

The album is an evolution of everything up to now. Some tracks were ideas from ages ago that I have always liked but never knew how to finish until more recently. It's all gone very quickly, but music has taken me to some amazing places around the world over the past few years. In general it's opened my eyes to how people around the globe are connected by music. What appeals to some, won’t to others and vice versa. So you can be expecting something that I feel personally. 


How does producing for another artist push you creatively?


As an artist and producer, you’ll face challenges. If people gravitate to you to produce their music, they are expecting you at 100%. And as an artist, you are almost wary of doing that because perhaps there’s that element of you wanting to ‘save your best’. It’s pushed me to experiment with different tempos, genres and sounds which has benefited me in the long run simply because I’ve learned from those experiences.  

 Which artist taught you something that you’ve always carried with you and what was it?


Haha, it's quite basic / random but I always remember Rusko taught me to have everything you need with you before you start making music. Don’t give yourself an excuse to leave the studio. 


How does your process change when producing for yourself versus’ producing for another artist?


Essentially, I will prioritise their desires/judgement. I will be a guide, and a critic/suggester, but if they are the one performing and living with that song under their name, they have the final say.


The way I usually start a song might be different if they come in with an idea in their head or some guitar chords or something. I would just focus on getting the most important elements like chords, beat, lyric ideas down first and go from there. 


"Honestly, I'm only having fun if I’m making something true to myself and what I'm feeling at the time."

"Experiment. You have the tools.

Think outside the box." 

How did DJing help you to make the transition to production and how did you first get started?


Although I grew up around my Dad DJing, I only first got into DJing myself when I was about 14. Loads of my mates were into D&B at the time. I had a mate who had a pair of 1210s on my road and I would be at his all the time with a bunch of others, taking turns to mix. It became a routine obsession along with buying vinyl which then lead to my interest in making music myself. I got reason 3 (jeez I feel old) and started making music myself, which eventually became my main passion. 


How do you feel learning an instrument can impact the level and understanding of your production?


When I first started out I had very little knowledge about music theory. I just knew how I wanted something to sound. I was confident doing things by ear, I knew it sounded good, although I wasnt able to tell you what chords I was playing. 

The more producers and musicians I met, the more I wanted to understand. I'm still completely self-taught, I wouldn’t say I'm that good a piano player, but I do have an understanding of the theory now. Which helps me get what I want in my head out into Logic, quicker. If that makes sense. 

What are your top three tips for producers starting out?


  1. Listen to a lot of different music, and try and understand what makes it good or effective.

  2. Experiment. You have the tools. Think outside the box. 

  3. Make loads of music, even if it’s shit. Your essentially flexing your muscles and staying ready. Be patient. Results will come. 


Are you inspired by mediums other than music to create a mood/atmosphere when producing?


100%. My studio is filled with shit that has inspired me my whole life. I'm a big fan of manga & anime/ video games. So I have loads of nostalgic things around the place which helps take my mind away from things sometimes. Also lighting and indoor plants can completely change the feel of a room!


"I just get really excited when I hear someone who’s just got an interesting vibe or tone, regardless of who they are. 

You’ve worked with so many incredible upcoming artists, which are your favourite three collaborations you’ve made, so far?


I'm super proud of all the artists that I have worked with over the years doing their thing. To name three, Pip Millet, Bassette & Amber-Simone.


What draws you to an artist and makes you want to collaborate with them?


I listen to a lot of new music. I just get really excited when I hear someone who’s just got an interesting vibe or tone, regardless of who they are. 


If you could produce for any artist in the world, who would it be and what kind of track would you want to make?


Would love to make a track with Lianne La Havas one day. Her voice gives me the chills! Probably something soulful and uplifting. 


Who are some producers that got you into making music and who is inspiring you today?


Electronically people like Noisia, Amon Tobin, Chemical Brothers


Hip Hop: J Dilla, Nujabes, Dre. All  are like legends to me. Their work is super inspiring, almost intimidating. 


If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would they be?


Children Of Zeus 

Gaijin Blues 

Pip Millet 


Galcher Lustwerk 


What’s coming up for 2020?


New Album on the way, a single off the album before it drops. Weekly streams on Twitch. My cooking show ‘Getting Baked with Joe Hertz’ on Youtube! Looking hopefully forward to being able to travel and reconnect with people when the Covid-19 pandemic passes. Stay safe people. Huge love to the NHS. 

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