All the signs are that UK garage is ready to have a bit of a moment.
AJ Tracey took his 2-step leaning single 'Ladbroke Grove' into the Top 10, while Joel Corry - once a star on Geordie Shore, and now a KISS mainstay - has been spreading the word at clubs around the land.
Currently charging across the summer season, the North London raised selector decided to dig back into his record bag for his latest single.
Re-working Monsta Boy's formidable 'Sorry' with the aid of vocalist Hayley May, the tune almost immediately took off, becoming a key part of his set.
Used at a pivotal point on this year's Love Island, this new version of 'Sorry' earned the most Shazam's across one day in this country ever.
Soaring into the Top 40, Joel Corry is re-connecting with the music of his youth while still having the time of his life.
When the Clash from Clash comes through, he's on a yacht just offshore in the Mediterrannean, planning his next club show...
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So: summer seems to be going pretty well, then?!
Yeah! It’s been the best summer of my life so far, for sure. I’m currently eight weeks into a massive summer tour. I’m mainly doing all the party islands at the moment, so I go from Crete to Ibiza then on to Zante, Cyprus… a few other places as well. It’s been amazing, but it’s also non-stop.
Along the way you released the new single as well, which has really blown up. Has it take you by surprise?
Honestly it’s just been amazing! The track… is such a big tune in the resorts, and in the clubs where I’m DJing. Can you imagine it? I’m turning up to these places and now with the single doing so well, when I’m dropping it into my sets it’s like the crowd have been waiting for me to play that track! It’s the first time any of my tracks has really, really popped off, which is a great feeling for me.
I’ve been DJing for 15 years now, and it’s the first time I’ve experienced that engagement with the crowd, where I’m playing my own tune, and they all know every single word, they’re waiting for the drop… it’s the best feeling in the world.
It’s the most Shazam’d track ever in one day, seemingly…
Yeah! That was unexpected. That was a really cool record. It got played on Love Island, and it broke the record for the show’s most Shazam’d song. It just goes to show how powerful shows like Love Island are, really. It’s a cool little thing to say I had the most Shazam’d song in the UK ever in one day!
It’s a new take on a UKG classic, when did you first hear ‘Sorry’?
Basically, when I started DJing when I was 13 years old, I’m from North London and when I was a teenager it was all about garage. That was the scene. It was garage and jungle, then the start of grime, as well.
I was a massive, massive garage head. My brother was an MC. My DJ used to be DJ Jenga! My brother was an MC and I was part of this little garage crew. Back in the day, as well, so it was all vinyl! A weekly trip to a record shop, saving up my pocket money to get one record a week – not like it is now when you can download them all for free. It was so different back then!
I was so into my garage, and Monsta Boy was one of my favourite tunes growing up, so I’ve got a massive connection with it from all the way back in the day. It’s been a big track in my set.
I got in the studio, I was vibing with some old school garage, and I had this idea: imagine if we took it, and had a female flip on it and brought it back a bit for this summer? I dropped my girl Hayley May a message. I got her to the sing the hook to me, and she sent me a voice note on WhatsApp ‘cos she knew the original anyway, and it was this moment of: oh my God, this sounds unreal!
We got in the studio the very next week and got it done in two days. When something works so perfectly it’s so easy to get it done. It’s one of those tunes where it just happened… and here we are!
A lot of people reckon UK garage is well overdue a comeback, y’know…
Well that new AJ Tracey single has a garage vibe to it, and that has definitely turned a few heads. I think garage is always going to be there – I don’t think it needs to be brought back, even when I listen to a garage set and those tunes, the big garage bangers, they always go off. UK crowds will always love them.
It doesn’t even need bringing back. It’s there, man. Those tunes are timeless. In the right moment during the night if you drop them… it’s a shutdown.
Exactly. At any one point on any given weekend some club in the UK is playing ‘Flowers’ by Sweet Female Attitude and everyone is having a great time!
Exactly! All those tunes… all the old school bangers will go off at peak time during a set. It’s so nice. What I noticed is that I flipped ‘Sorry’ and people who loved the original love it because they’ve got a new version back for summer, and the younger generation – who didn’t know the original track – are loving the new version. Maybe they’ll be diving back to the original, too. It’s nice to have the feeling that maybe even a younger audience who didn’t know the original might check that one out as well.
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What is it about UKG that connects with audiences, d’you think?
The UK owns garage. That’s why we’re so precious about it. Those years were amazing – I’ve got the best memories of my teenage years. Doing those trips to record shops every week – it was more than the tracks, it was a whole scene. I just think that people who were there during that time know how special it was and they will always have love for those tracks.
You’re holding down a show on KISS, which is a legendary station – that must mean a lot?
If you asked me growing up what my dream was, I would have definitely thrown in there that I wanted to be on radio. That was always something that I aimed to do. I actually tried for many years to get in with KISS – they hold presenter auditions, and I actually went years and years in a row but I never quite got there. So when I eventually did land my KISS show I felt amazing!
I’ve been there for about 18 months now, and it’s going great. My show is a specialist show, so I choose the music and I mix it every week, and I get to connect with different artists every week. That’s one of the best things about it, because everyone loves getting their tunes on radio. I keep on top of everything coming out, because I like to keep my show up-front.
You’re still matching it to your role as a personal trainer, though, and you launched an app recently as well.
My two hobbies in my life were always DJing and going to the gym. They were the two things I was passionate about since I was about 12 or 13. All I wanted to do is DJ and go to the gym! I’ve pursued them my whole life, really, and I’ve been lucky enough to turn both of them into a career, if you like.
Music is my main focus, but I’ve been an optimum nutrition athlete for about eight years now. I’ve done competitions as well, and I brought the app out last year – it went to number one on the app store, which was unreal. It’s just great to see people using it, to be honest.
Summer is a time for enjoying yourself – barbeques, beer gardens, festivals – what’s your tip for keeping the pounds off while still enjoying yourself?
Everybody always asks me this! (laughs)
What I would like to say is that it’s very difficult in the first couple of weeks, because at that point it is not a habit to you. So if you can just pursue it for at least three weeks it automatically becomes a bit of a habit, and then once the routine of going to the gym and keeping to the diet becomes a habit to you it becomes so much easier. It’s not so much like you’re forcing it, it becomes part of your routine, and it’s a bit like an instinct to you.
My number tip to anyone who is looking to get into shape is: stick at it. Give yourself 21 days, and I promise you when you wake up on that 22nd day you’ll be like: d’you what… I actually want to go to the gym today! It’s just getting over that three-week hurdle. That’s my tip: stick at it… listen to Joel! (laughs)
‘Sorry’ blew up on Love Island, and you’ve obviously worked on reality TV before. Do you have any advice for those contestants now returning to ordinary life?
Well, it’s a really good question. It would just say: don’t get too carried away or absorbed in it, because it can go very quickly.
I don’t have anything against anyone doing reality TV – I was involved in it as well. But the mistake people make is that they feel like the reality TV thing will be a career, and maybe for a certain few people it can be, but for the majority it isn’t a career… it’s a platform for you to get some exposure, and get your social media up. Which is fine. But I just think that you need to have a bit of a game plan for the future, something with a bit of a substance to it.
It’s all great getting the platform but you need to have something prepared that’s credible and has some substance to it, because just being on a reality show – and that’s it – just isn’t a career. If you believe that it is, and you get caught up in that instant fame and hype, then when it drops off… that’s when you see problems.
You have to be careful with your mental health, because you can go from a high-high to suddenly nobody is interested any more. If you don’t have anything to back it up then you can get yourself into a bit of trouble. You need a long term plan, something with a bit of substance about it.
It’s looking beyond the hype isn’t it?
Keep your feet on the ground. Don’t believe that just because people are going mad, hitting you on Instagram non-stop will last forever. Don’t get caught up in it because it’s not going to last!
So what’s coming up for you?
Basically, from last November to May I locked myself in the studio and I’ve got so much new music coming. I put my head down, I’m really prepared. I’ve got a couple of tracks finished, all good to go. I’m so excited, so my next single is an absolute banger! Keep a look out for that!
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'Sorry' is out now. Stay in touch with Joel Corry HERE.