Joker – The Inner Vision

Foto: Mads Perch 4AD
Like no other, Joker is bridging the gap between dubstep and hip hop with his so called »purple sound«. Finally, his long anticipated debut album The Vision came out these days. We met Joker to discuss dubstep, rap, video games and stolen TV’s.

The expectations towards Liam McLean, better known as Joker, are massive. Since 2007 on, he’s been releasing certainly round about a dozen singles, that’ve been thrilling fans and media on a regular basis. With his often cited »purple sound«, he bridged the gap from dubstep to hip hop and R&B like no other, which hypnotized hood boys and club chicks likewise. Thus, his recently released debut album was highly anticipated. Surprisingly, he did not drop it over his former release platforms, the dubstep powerhouse Hyperdub or his own imprint Kapsize, but rather over the London based indie institution 4AD. But no need to worry, the guys from 4AD already proved a good instinct with the signing of fellow dubstep artist Zomby and also the Bristolian Joker sticked to his hit concept. We invited him to an interview.

The album is entitled The Vision. So what was your specific vision by approaching the album?
Joker: The vision was something I’ve seen or heard in my head, that I tried to produce. But half way down the line, I kind of got a bit lost and it turned out different to what I visioned, but it’s still a part of the vision. [laughs] To be honest, right now I’m confused of how I work. I don’t have a clue what’s going on, I’m a bit lost. Before, I used to see a track visually and then wrote it out in Logic. But now I’m just lost in a mist of smoke.

People expected your debut album to drop via Hyperdub. How come you landed on 4AD?
Joker: I think Hyperdub would have been an amazing label to put the album out on, but I think that’s not where this album needs to be. I needed a bigger label to push it and who knows how to push it. My manager and me spoke to quite a few labels and out of them all, 4AD was the first to be really cool and giving me the space to be me.

Can you understand, that hardcore dubstep fans are hating on the mainstream appeal that the genre developed?
Joker: Yeah of course. People wanna keep the music underground, but there are still a lot of people still doing it underground. And for the record, I have been writing tracks for singers and MC’s since day one. So no one can’t tell me nothing.

Dubstep obviously has a great appeal to hip hop kids. So what do you think makes dubstep more attractive than rap these days?
Joker: Because it became big. I think USA follows the hype at the end of the day, that’s why everyone over there is making dubstep. You didn’t see everyone in the USA making grime, because grime never got massive. But if it did, everyone would be on that shit.

Some people describe your sound as a †žmodern version of G-funk†œ and wish for a Joker collaboration with rappers such as Jay-Z or Snoop Dogg. Is this one of your aims? How realistic is it, that this will ever happen?
Joker: I think me working with Snoop Dogg is – very possible. I know that he is into the UK producers and I talk to his manager all the time. Snoop seems like very a very cool person.

I read that you plan an album with halfstep producer Silkie, that is supposed to be recorded in Berlin and Copenhagen. Why in these two cities of all places?
Joker: We both like those cities. We didn’t get round to making the album, but I guess it could happen in the future and for the record: I wouldn’t call him halfstep producer. [laughs]

You are known as gamer, so do you still have time to play video games and what was the last game you’ve finished?
Joker: The last game I finished was was probably Metal Gear Solid 4. I play a lot of Call Of Duty and it stops me from making music, which is not good!

What is your favourite album this year so far and what album are you really looking forward to?
Joker: Album of the year would maybe have to go to Lil’ Wayne and all the beats on Ski Beatz’ album are hard too. And album I’m looking forward to: Benga!

How do you evaluate the current events in your country, with regards to the riots in England this summer? Do you think these riots will bring a political or socially change?
Joker: I don’t care about all that shit. But if you get a tv, I’ll buy it of you.