First and foremost, we, The Dankles, would like to thank Willy Joy for taking the time to answer these questions for us and letting us get to know them a bit better. This Chicago based DJ and self proclaimed “Nerd” has been making booty’s bounce all over the place with his Moombahton mixes and eclectic sounds. We raged to his set at a Brooklyn Warehouse party and he gave us a few minutes of his busy schedule to answer our question “Who is Willy joy?”…

Download: Rompe  (Booty Mix) – Willy Joy


Q: Our Chicago team, they know you better than we do here in NYC. So,
first we’re going to start off with what’s your real name and where
are you from?

WJ: Shout out to Chicago! My real name is really Willy Joy (laughs) and I’m actually originally from Minneapolis. Chicago has been my home for very long now, love Chicago. When I started DJing I was about 15-16 and I played with a couple of different names and none of them really stuck.  I’m a pretty simple dude and my real name sounds like a pretty cool fake name so I thought I might as well put it out there.

Q: How was growing up in Minneapolis? How do you feel your upbringing
inspired you musically?

WJ: Well, growing up in Minneapolis actually did shape me a lot musically. Being in the Midwest, especially upper Midwest – Minneapolis, Wisconsin and to a certain extent rural Illinois, there was a crazy rave scene in the 90’s when I was growing up. Not like the rave scene there is today, the rave scene now is cool but it’s more above ground. We had raves in places like ice arenas where someone had broken through a back door and just decided to throw a 6,000 person rave, crazy crazy shit. Back in the day there were a lot less rave-related laws and people didn’t really know what these raves were. Now, as the years go on, there are all these crazy fucking news stories like “if your child goes to a rave they’ll die! Your child will die!” Those old school raves were and still are my shit, that’s what I came up on, these real sketchy parties with amazing DJs. They were actually big budget things. We’d get headliners from the UK, other parts of the country and all that so I was exposed to a lot of different kinds or rave music. That old school, original rave shit, that music, it was my heart when I was a teenager. That and heavy metal. Later, I went to college and got more into rap music and into just other kind of shit, studied weird experimental music like John Cage and real academic sounds but it all comes back to rave music for me. That was where I started and that’s what I come back to.

Q: Your sets are always very eclectic and jump from realm to realm. Can you talk to us about your “DJ style”?

WJ: I’m really A.D.D, especially when I’m DJing, and I switch up styles and tempos really quickly. I like to produce and make the kind of music that I DJ, which is all over the map. I love the Moombahton sounds, shout out to Dave Nada who is one of my good friends in the DJ game. I’ve made some moombahton stuff and a ton of house and techno tracks. I’ve been fucking around a little with the slower stuff lately and I love all the trap shit that’s going on right now, shout out to Flosstradamus, I just want to make stuff that I’m gonna want to play and hopefully other people will like it too. I think a lot of us DJs just make the music we like and really sort of cross our fingers and hope that people will like it. (crosses fingers) Here’s hoping!

Q: Recently, you were on tour with rapper Kid Sister. Can you tell us about that?

WJ: I love Kid Sister! That’s my girl! Huge shout out to Kid Sister. That show is very different from what you get from when I just DJ solo. Because in her show, I’m a hype man as well as a DJ, I’m on the mic shouting at people and swearing, you know, it’s a rap show! (laughs)

Q: What was tour life like? Get into any kinds of fun trouble?

WJ: Man, I mean we had too many good times on tour. Kid Sister and I are a lot alike, we get along really well because we’re both just a couple of nerds who just really love this music shit. People get it twisted when they think artists go on tour and it’s just this “sex and drugs” lifestyle. It’s not always like that with us. We’ll play a show, packed out with thousands of people, get wasted and murder that shit. Then wake up the next morning hung over as hell and go look at Mexican paintings at an art museum. Sometimes it’s just not always as wild as people think it is.

Q: Having played in so many different venues and cities, what is your
favorite venue so far? Which city had the rowdiest crowd?

WJ: Um my favorite venue has to be, and this is just like hometown bias (laughs), a spot in Chicago called Congress Theater. A million huge shows go there all the time – it’s like Webster Hall in NYC, except it’s five times as big. It’s that kind of vibe. It’s an old beautiful building that is now really run down, and it’s a shit show of just kids making bad decisions and other crazy rave shit. That all just takes me back to my roots, and I’ve played some of the best shows in my life there. Every time I’m there it just feels good, it just works. Berlin is really incredible too! But, Helsinki [Finland] has to be mentioned too, it was crazy! I was so psyched to go to Helsinki. I had built it up in my mind that it was gonna be this crazy Alice in Wonderland/Viking kind of shit, it wasn’t like that (laughs), it was this very clean city that looked just like picturesque photos straight out of a magazine. The show we played there was so bananas! I got to eat reindeer, that shit was crazy… and delicious. I definitely wanna go back.

Buy: Superhuman – Willy joy

Q: What are some of your favorite tracks to play during a set?

WJ: Umm right now I’m playing a lot of Chicago shit. All the new Flosstradamus music is amazing. It’s insane to me that those are my friends, and I’m their fan. I’m playing a bunch of new unreleased tunes of my own also that’ll be coming out in the next couple of months. I don’t know if it’s sort of lame to say your own shit is your favorite but I’m a selfish dude and I work hard (laughs).

Q: What is the one thing, besides your DJ equipment, you can’t leave
home without?

WJ: I cannot and I repeat cannot leave home without my sunglasses, honestly. And that’s become an issue because I’m mad forgetful. They’re prescription. Maybe I’m a wussy or whatever but if its daylight I NEED my sunglasses, I just have to wear them. If I leave the house without them, even if I’m running late I don’t care I go back home for them. It’s stupid because then I look like an asshole wearing my sunglasses everywhere, but if I take them off, I can’t see anything. I’m a nerd… the first pair of prescription sunglasses I got changed my life!

Q: What are some of your dream collabs?

WJ: Dream collab? Hmm… there are different people in different genres who I’d love to work with. In electronic music I’m lucky because a lot of the people I’m a big fan of are actually friends of mine. I could just like call them and say “Hey I’d like to work with you” and if our schedules match up and they like me we can make something happen. So, I’m really lucky that way. As far as other styles, I don’t know, I’d love to do some dirty south shit with an older school dude. I’d like to pull somebody that’ll make people be like “Oh wow! What happened to that dude? He was so good and now he’s back!” you know, like Mystikal or somebody like that would be really dope.

Q: What’s in the works for Willy Joy right now?

WJ: I’m working on a lot of new shit right now. I’ve got a record with Tittsworth that’s gonna be dropping real soon. We’re finishing it up right now. I’ve got a big record with on a new label called Main Course, which was founded by Neoteric and Bot from the Crookers. That’s called The Big Bass, and should be out over the Summer. I’ve also got a record with the Smalltown DJs from Canada coming out on No Brainer records, which is Malente’s label. Then, there’s a whole bunch of remixes I’m working on. I’m sitting on a lot of music, man. It’s been a busy year so far.

Q: I see you’ve been keeping yourself very busy, But when you actually have some down time, what are some things you like to do?

WJ: I’m a homebody. When given the chance to stay home I don’t really leave my house… ever. So, when I’m not working I just chill out. I don’t even own a TV, I just bittorrent everything. I still watch a lot of movies and TV and all that, I just watch it on my computer. My life is basically umm, my studio. I turned a room [in my home] into a studio, and I have this really expensive studio office chair that I spent hundreds of dollars on…  I said to someone the other day that “I spend more time in this chair than I do in my bed”. That’s my life, in a nutshell. I sit in my studio and work or make myself a drink while watching movies on my computer. I go wild when I’m on the road but when I’m at home I’m like a “Dad”(laughs) I mean, I hope I’m not an actual dad somewhere!

Q: Besides work, do you have any summer plans?

WJ: Not really, no. I have a lot of travels coming up for a lot of
gigs but other than that, no. It’s a weird thing when what you love to do
is your job I can’t tell the difference between business and pleasure
anymore. It’s a good thing! It makes a person a little crazy but
its good crazy. It’s what I love. I dig it.

Q: Now, if you weren’t already an awesome DJ, what else do you think you’d be doing?

WJ: I think about this a lot actually. If I weren’t a DJ I would probably be a
Zookeeper, seriously. I’m super into wildlife conservation, endangered animals
and that sort of thing. I would either work at a Zoo at some capacity
or work at a non profit that tries to protect habitat and
wildlife, that kind of shit. I just took a trip to Costa Rica, in
January, I played an amazing show out there, and after the show I
stuck around for another week and a half and just traveled to the south of
the country. I felt really inspired. They have the world’s only
Sloth sanctuary. Its so dope! That’s the type of shit I’d like to do, just
work with animals that are on the brink of extinction. I care a lot
more about animals than I do about people. But, you know shout out to The
Dankles love y’all! (laughs)

Q: A DJ and a humanitarian!?

WJ: Yeah, Something like that. It’s the sloths, man, they’re just too rad!


About Amelia Waters