Jonney Ford AKA JOYRYDE is one of those rare artists that goes against the grain but keeps it cool, strives to be different but stays true to his artistry, sounds old school and new school at the same time — and he’s made a goddamn name for himself in doing so.
JOYRYDE has crafted an entire RYDER cult, surrounded by a unique musical attitude, re-imagined car imagery and a-list support. Hailing from the UK, JOYRYDE rose from completely unknown to one of the most buzzing electronic acts on the planet in 2016 and it’s clear that the highway to success is paved with bass.
Moments after JOYRYDE’s high-octane set at Shaky Beats 2017, he sat down with Your EDM to talk music and inspiration, working with OWSLA, his ruthless single “New Breed,” and of course — muscle cars!
Your show was f*cking crazy! Tell me about your set at Shaky Beats…
This set today has been built as I’ve been playing JOYRYDE, from when I first started it. On the first step, you only have the music that you made, and that’s your connection with people. Then you think, “Well, how do I build on this in a way that compliments the rest of my records, but also shows people what I was listening to that inspired those records?” You don’t know how to say everything about yourself in one sentence. It takes time to tell your story. So, since I started until now, I’ve been moving music in and out of my show. And, I think it’s just getting to that point where it really explains me. Every element of me, from the hardcore style to the hip hop side, to the dance music side and the culture of electronic music.
A lot of people build different sets for different places. For me, I kinda want to give everyone my personality. I’m not trying to win them over, I’m trying to win them over on my terms. This is now the most progressed version of my show that I have. It’s the furthest I’ve lived, so this set is the most up-to-date version I’ve ever played. I’m sure a year from now it will be even more perfected.
I’m taking this from your bio: “JOYRYDE rose from completely unknown to one of the most buzzing electronic acts on the planet in 2016.” What was that like?
It was great. First off, it starts simple. It starts with a few people listening to you, and when they appreciate what you appreciate about yourself, that’s a nice feeling. It’s not like, “How do I need to change myself to get popular?” F*ck that. It’s like, “Wow, they like this, too?” That’s sick! Then there’s 100 people, then it’s 10,000 people, then it’s 100,000 people following you. Then it’s like — this is a responsibility.
Watching this project flourish last year was amazing. First the artists played it. Then, realizing I shared the same opinion with so many people about music style and the look — it’s great reminder. I encourage anyone who has a passion to find out if everyone else has the same opinion. It’s a great feeling — just that alone!
How did the idea for JOYRYDE first start?
I loved the words. I’ve always associated music — bass music specifically — with cars. It’s just something you grow up with. Your friends — you’re in the car, you listen to records. You park the car, you open the back with the speakers and you listen to records there, in the parking lot or at the festival. I’ve always seen that correlation between cars and music. I don’t need to try to see it. When I started JOYRYDE, I just liked it for the name.
I took this footage of a Ferrari driving around, drifting, doing donuts, racing down tunnels and stuff, and I put it over this record. Before that, I saw it as something more street, something more urban. And, when I saw this Ferrari with the music I was like, “F*cking hell, that’s something really nice!” That’s beautiful. That’s really fragile. It’s fragile and violent at the same time. And, there’s something very attractive about that and it just clicked.
Which artists specifically helped shape your sound?
A lot of the original UK garage records — that scene is never really any one artist. UK garage as a scene changed me a lot. Just that simple fundamental rhythm and bass and pitched up vocals. We’re talking like a 20-year gap between the old school music that I found and got into and then artists like Jauz came along and he wrote “Feel the Volume.” It didn’t sound just like the old stuff, but it felt like the old stuff.
That’s when I realized I wanted to go into that area of music, because I’m well versed in those lines. I went to school listening to that music. I went to parties playing that music. I’m not going to struggle to be honest in that domain. As people, we all want to do a good job. And, I’m designated to be a producer, that’s it. The ship has sailed. I’m not going to do anything else. I might be a director or do videos and stuff, but it’s pretty much always going to be about music. When I saw that whole thing developing, I was like — that’s me. That’s got my childhood all over it. Like, “Hold my beer, I got this.”
Artists like Skrillex have always shaped me… Pendulum, Prodigy, Justice. Much of the new artists like Jauz and Ghastly. Everything shapes you. I think these days, we’re shaped by culture not just artists. An artist is one thing, but a culture is something really special because you have dance moves, clothing, words. The way you hang — your gang, clique, squad — whatever the f*ck you call it. And, that’s something I sample from. I like to touch cultures. I think that’s more attractive than being inspired by an artist. If you’re inspired by an artist you can sometimes start to sound too much like them. When you’re inspired by a culture it’s more about how people interpret the creativity, it’s much more dynamic.
How is it working with OWSLA?
They’re great! They’re really chill. Very professional. Very driven. Very connected. Good taste. Most importantly, they listen to me. They allow me to be myself. Artists — we’re weird — sometimes we need things this way. They’re sympathetic to that. I like the music they release. They’re a tasteful brand. They inspire. It’s very hard to display your achievements and not look like a show off, and OWSLA does that in a very special way. They’re able to portray their talents without it looking too pretentious or too snobby.
I never really saw myself working with any record label. I always thought a person should just make something and give it to people. But, when you’re an artist, there are ways to grow as a person. There is something special to doing something that you’re not used to. So, working with a bunch of people as opposed to working by myself is a new experience. I thought only good could come from this — and I was right.
Let’s talk cars! I noticed a theme there… Do you know how many times cars were mentioned in your set today?
There is a theme… Most of those tracks I like anyway! I put records in, and then I notice in the tracks — I hear a skrrt skrrt. Well, f*cking sh*t! It works! [Laughs] It’s more than half. So, it’s gotta be somewhere around 50?! It’s gotta be up there! Even little references. Someone even tweeted to me once, “It’s amazing how you played so many car reference tracks and it wasn’t corny at all.”
I have a show, “Calling All Ryders (C.A.R.)” and it’s an actual Dodge Charger on stage. In that show and I play a lot more [car tracks] because it’s a f*cking car on stage, and you can get funny with it. It’s awesome. When you get to that point where it doesn’t have to be so serious, you can go to many more areas. Lots of car stuff in that show! It’s terrifying when that thing roars!
If JOYRYDE was to be objectified into a make and model, what would it be?
Maybe a ’72 Pontiac Firebird. It’s small, it’s fast, and it looks super menacing. I’ve always thought JOYRYDE, more than anything, it was a menace. That car has got it for me! It’s got the right look, and it’s also a bit mean. I know exactly what color — there’s a very amazing one — black and gold.
“New Breed” goes the hardest on the HOWSLA compilation album… It’s savage! What was it like making that track?
I made this idea and I put it in this mix. But, I really didn’t know what to do with it. It’s just so bizarre. Then Sonny [Moore] hit me up — he was like, “We’re doing this HOWSLA thing, it’s all house. Maybe you should be on it?” I was like, “I don’t know. I just did, ‘I Ware House’ and ‘What’s in the Box’ house, it’s going to be house heavy.” I like it, but I don’t like it when you label it. He was like, “I don’t know, dude. We’re really getting behind it, it’s going to be really weird shit.” I’m like, “Well, if it’s really weird — I got something that’s really f*cking weird,” and I sent it to him. He was like, “It’s great! Just develop it…”
Then, [OWSLA] helped me put Darnell Williams’ vocal on it, and yeah that worked. I didn’t want to make something that was fixated on the vocal. I wanted the vocal to be a mood. Some of the words are a bit unclear. Everything is a little turned down and deep inside the record. As opposed to, this is the vocal part that you all sing. It’s something that gives you an impression. I just wanted the track to shatter any expectations of what it was going to be like. Because, that’s the worst — when people know what it’s going to sound like. I’m really excited about this record because it’s different. Taking risks is always great. Whether or not they work, it doesn’t matter.
I shot a music video for it. I wrote the treatment, and I directed it, and I’m editing it. Now, I’m not doing all of this because I want to show off. Literally, there was no time to brief an editor how I wanted it. HOWSLA got pushed back like a week and a half — so I was like, “Sh*t! We have time to do a music video!” We put together a team, but couldn’t find a director that got what I was trying to achieve. Because, it’s crazy. I’m telling you now.
I’ve never done anything like that. All the other videos for JOYRYDE, I’ve edited. But, this is the first one that was a lot. I walked into a room, we had a whole set in this crazy basement f*cking place, and there were 25 people looking at me like, “OK, so what’s the first step?” Like, “Wow!” I just went into efficient mode. Within two hours it felt like we were a family. Every single person was exactly where they needed to be. Everything was going exactly to plan.
It’s great to cross new frontiers like that and I have tracks like this to thank for it. I know it sounds weird saying that, because it’s my track but I don’t see it like that. I see this track as itself, and it affords me the ability — because it’s different — to do something different. If it sounds like everything else, we have a parameter of what we want to see with it. With a track like, “New Breed,” there’s no preset. You’re allowed to go crazy. I’m glad we didn’t get afraid, and just put it out. We really went behind it. That’s my whole thing now — I want to get behind every release I do full-heartedly. I want to care for them. That means I only want to release tracks I really love, and “New Breed” is one of them.
It’s crazy. It’s nuts. It’s out there. It’s the trippiest f*cking crazy thing. [Watch it here!]
You’re more about developing ideas, and don’t “force” putting out tracks… But, with that being said, do you have a JOYRYDE EP in the works?
I’m writing this EP… I have an idea. I write very current ideas. I don’t like to write something and have it sitting for 6 months. I finish it and put it out. With an EP, you can’t do it like that. My thing is once I have it finished — I update and I update and I update — endless updated versions. So, I’ve got tracks for an EP and I think I’ve worked out how I’m going to finish it.
I just want to combine everything I’ve learned. All this video stuff, all these shows, all these songs, all this sh*t, and combine it into one unified effort. And, that’s what’s hard. I want my EP to be enjoyed like my other records in a longer playing release. I think I got it! I think I’m onto something now! The “New Breed” experience opened my eyes to what I’m capable of.
Do you want to collaborate with any other producers?
Loads. Pretty much everyone. Seriously — a lot of people hit me up to work together and I never get back to them. And, it’s mostly because I don’t like to feel the need to perform. Being an artist is hard, unless you want to copy yourself. That’s f*cking easy. What’s really good about artistry is what you don’t know, it’s what you find. The greatest art in the world should be stumbled upon, not marched towards. You should walk freely into blank space and see what you find. When you work with people, sometimes that innocence is brushed away. There’s only a few people you can work with, and I think they’re the people you feel most calm with. The most honest you are to fail in front of. Those are the people you’ll find the most treasured ideas with.
I’d like to work with most people I meet, but I don’t. Because, I don’t feel that what we would write would come out exactly how we think. And, we have a responsibility to inspire others. I started a couple tracks with people — they’re nice ideas — but they’re missing that risk.
You’re making connections. All these artists we’re working with, you don’t get to see them too much. But, the closer and closer you get, the vulnerability goes higher. And, that’s good — you can be more open with them. The more I can connect with people like that, the more collaborative works you’ll see from me.
JOYRYDE has been a real solo mission. It’s me, and everyone else.