Get to know Brixton native Joe Hertz, who’s fusing nostalgic R&B with electronica sounds.
Photograph: Kian Benjamin & Nathaniel Tong
Either hidden away in his studio or behind the decks at an absolute rager, Joe Hertz is a London based producer with a penchant for electronic music. Inspired from an early age by an eclectic mix of influences, including Drum & Bass raves and the repetitive electronic music of video games, Hertz began a love affair with acclaimed producers Timbaland and J Dilla, and knew he had to make music of his own.
As a follow-up to his debut release “At Your Touch”, Joe has released his newest track titled “Playing For You”, taken from his 5-track EP “How I Feel”. The R&B layered track is brimming with soul and features the smooth vocal stylings of new artist, Bassette. The track is perfectly representative of Joe’s signature style, merging an old school R&B sound with electronica. And suddenly, his unique assortment of influences all start to make sense.
How did joining forces with Bassette come about? What was it like working together? Can we expect even more songs with you two?
It was as simple as finding her on Soundcloud and reaching out. I try my best to keep my ear to the ground. Bassette is awesome, she’s modest and can be shy but once we had a few jokes everything loosened up and that’s when the magic happened, we have more sessions lined up.
Who would be your dream artist/s to collaborate with?
Erykah Badu. (Goals).
Can you describe this track to us? What was the process like creating this song?
Submerged soul. The aim for the instrumental was to make a track that was soft & warm but with a driving groove. It was a simple process and only took 2-3 sessions to get the track finished. We jammed out for a day while I made the rough beat and the chords, Bassette was recording vocal idea’s on her phone and playing around with lyrical concepts.
I didn’t want to take the production any further at that point, I find too much production can dictate what a topline should be. Once it was done I did the standard ‘lock myself away working in the studio until its finished!’
How did you come up with the name “Playing For You”? Is there a secret meaning behind it?
The idea of playing someone else’s game, it’s about not having to conform to certain rules and changing who you actually are. This track carries a message that I’m really proud of. It hopefully can be understood in many different ways and stick with listeners for that reason. It’s one of my main aims to create music which leaves a feeling in peoples minds, when you play that song, that feeling comes back.
You say your influences include the legendary Timbaland. What is it about his work that you admire?
I would say someone like Timbaland is a prime example of a producer whose musical influences cross all sorts of cultural lines. Boundaries. Where? That’s real music to me.
We love that you are inspired by glitchy electronic music in video games! Which game soundtracks are your favourite? How do they influence your music?
Video games are a big part of my inspiration. I loved the soundtrack on Portal 2, and the soundtracks for Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2 are probably my favourite. I can appreciate a soundtrack that makes a game work and feel right. The music probably played a big role there. If I could achieve 10% of that feeling with my music I would be happy.
You create tracks that range from R&B to House to even Hip-Hop. Which genres do you prefer/is your favourite to work with?
It’s a real hard one to answer. If I just made music of one genre I would get bored quickly, in my chill time I listen to a lot of different stuff. The targets always moving, the only preferred style is to make music which people can connect with.
What is your favourite style of music to listen to?
There’s so much to admire across different genres and BPM’s at the moment that it’s hard to say ‘I just love this one type of music’. Saying that, I can always put on a Dilla instrumental and be very happy.
You’re going to be playing at Bestival, congrats! How is it performing live? Do you prefer live performances or studio recording?
Thanks so much! I’m pumped for it. I played the stage last year and it was one of the biggest sets I have done thus far. So far I have just been DJing but I am preparing a live show for next year. In the mean time there’s a lot about just being in the studio that I love.
What can we expect from your How It Feels EP? Is there a theme to the EP?
The EP is a reflection of the feelings I have put into music, it’s pretty self explanatory! I’m not going to get into it too much, people need to hear the music first.
What is your favourite track from your forthcoming EP? Why?
There’s a track called Orbits. I managed to give myself goose bumps when the idea came together! It just ticks all the boxes for me. I don’t want to big it up too much though, it’s the last track on the EP.
What does the future hold for Joe Hertz? Have you got any other exciting projects coming up?
I’m always collaborating with different people. I have different singers and producers in and out of the studio, sometimes working on mixes or production on their tracks, sometimes starting new things. Song writing is something I’m getting more into. I think that’s all I’ll say for now, but there’s a lot that I’d like to see out there in the next few months.