Josh Dawson

J Biscous, aka Joe Hilton of Downing College, may have only started DJing a year ago, but he has already taken the Cambridge scene by storm. Having played at events such as OOX, Slipped Disc, King's Bunker and Queue The Music, it is highly likely you’ve danced to his selections before. Normally known to play disco and house, here he shows a different side to his taste with a high-energy hour of break beat and techno.

What were you trying to do with the mix? 

The mix is a collection of records I’ve always wanted to play out and share with people. It’s high energy and genre-hopping, from breakbeat techno through to acid and hip-hop house. I’ve included plenty of breakbeats, inspired somewhat by Eris Drew and Octo Octa’s face-melting set at King’s Bunker last term.  

"Intricately planned and rehearsed mixes don’t always portray the character and style of a DJ"

I’ve used this mix as an opportunity to experiment with new techniques and styles, which is always the best way of learning and improving. Intricately planned and rehearsed mixes don’t always portray the character and style of a DJ, so I’ve left this in the state it was when I first recorded it, rather than hone it to perfection.

When did you start listening to dance music/collecting records?

I’ve always been into music. I learned cello from a young age and I played bass in a band in sixth form – pretty standard really.  I sort of caught onto house and disco music towards the end of sixth form, but I didn’t start DJing until Uni. My record collection started last year and has grown rapidly since, putting a hefty dent in my overdraft. Often if I’m ordering one record of Discogs I’ll try get a few more to make the shipping costs worth it, which sends me down a long rabbit hole of digging around. It’s a dangerous game when exams are close.

Who is your favourite producer/DJ at the moment?

I think Soundbwoy Killah is definitely one to watch at the moment. His 2-hour set at OHM from a few months ago is spectacular and his new record on O’Flynn's Hundred Flowers label is already receiving a lot of attention. I also saw Hunee for the first time at Printworks a few weeks ago and was blown away by how easily he jumped genres and bpms. He’s the sort of DJ you could see again and again and never get bored.

Hunee@dudeclubmilano/Instagram

What was your favourite party you’ve played?

I’ve had a lot of fun nights this term. I did a live set at Art in the Dark with Tom Joashi accompanying on saxophone, which is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while now. Warming up for Special Request at King’s Mingle in first term has to be a highlight of this year for me, especially since I got to play b2b with Kalvin [Schmidt Rimpler Dinh, Student DJ], someone I have a whole lot of respect for. I remember being pretty nervous for that set actually, mostly because I didn’t want to make Kalvin look bad, but it was a lot of fun and the sound system was ridiculously good.

How do you go about preparing for a set?

"I think it’s those rogue selections that stand out from the rest of a set and leave people with a good memory of that night."

You can’t really plan a set, as such. What you choose to play is so dependent on what the vibe is like on the night: how busy it is, what the room is like, what the DJ before you played, what time it is, etc. I always try and plan a few specific moments of a set, e.g. a specific song to start or end a set with, or a rogue selection I’d like to include at peak time. I think it’s those rogue selections that stand out from the rest of a set and leave people with a good memory of that night. I’m a big fan of using vocal clips in my sets, especially familiar samples from films or pop songs, as it allows me to decorate an instrumental track.

Do you have a go-to banger to bring a party up?

Hold Your Head Up High (Julian Jonah's Bad Boy Mix) [1997] - Boris Dlugosch

Eris Drew, who you've mentioned, is a vocal advocate of electronic music culture centring on escapism and fostering an environment where people don’t care about gender, sexuality, race or disability. Some say the scene has evolved into being about ‘being seen’ or, a classic complaint in Cambridge, the idea of ‘edginess’. Where do you think the Cambridge dance music scene fits into this? 

I think the Cambridge music scene is pretty diverse and can’t really be treated as an individual thing. We are all united here by the fact we live in the same town and all have a fuck ton of work to do, so to that extent, I guess it means that when people go out, they’re out for a good time.

"Often the best parts of a night for me are when there are only 10 people left in the club dancing their hearts out."

Some people might perceive certain nights to be ‘intimidatingly edgy’ and feel like they might not fit in. I think this is particularly ironic as so many nights in Cambridge, most notably Playtime, are based upon inclusivity and not leaving any person or group unwelcome.

Sometimes people have perceptions of a night without having been to it, and this can give false impressions. I certainly have noticed it’s always the individuals who truly love the music that hang around till the end and often the best parts of a night for me are when there are only 10 people left in the club dancing their hearts out.

Joe DJing at Fez@_jhilton_/Instagram

What’s up next for you?

I have a few gigs at the start of this term and a set at King's Affair during May Week which I’m pretty stoked for. I’ve got tickets to Houghton festival this summer, which I’ve heard very good things about. I’m also looking forward to the rest of the mixes on this series, I’ve seen the list of DJs and I know there is plenty of quality content to come!

What is your music guilty pleasure?

Sexy bitch ft. Akon.

I’m not sure how Akon settled with sexy bitch when trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful. Nonetheless, with its thumping 8-bit style bass line and hard 4/4 kick the song is an undeniable banger. I am waiting eagerly for the opportunity to drop it in a set. 

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