Israeli DJ Guy J is all about the music
Israeli DJ and producer Guy J first got sucked into the electronic scene as a teen. Two decades later, he's still in its vortex
Text: Mathew Scott
GUY JUDAH WAS a wide-eyed teenager kicking around the beaches outside Tel Aviv in the late 1990s when the wave of sounds that had been washing over the world of electronic music swept him away.
When he tells the story now, you can almost feel the sand between your toes as well.
"I was hanging with friends, looking for things to do," he recalls. "We went to a party and saw all these people having a great time. I had never seen anything like it before — the people, the music, the beach, the party.
"That era was just so special. You had all these fantastic DJs trying new things and audiences all over the world reacting to them. Once I heard that type of music and saw how people were reacting to it, there was no turning back for me."
Until that moment, the then 15-year-old had been wondering about his place in the world. Today, there are no such worries: the boy, inspired by that beach party, became a professional DJ. Music became his passion, and obsession.
"Listening to music and watching people dancing to it — I find that fascinating," says the man who now works under the guise of Guy J. "The melodies in music just do something to people, and to watch this happen is amazing. I still remember that first moment when I realised that I loved it."
Guy J — who is appearing as part of the Bedrock World Tour at Aqua in Tsim Sha Tsui on June 14 — has been able to chart a career course that allows him to remain steeped in the traditions of the house and techno music that first lit his fuse, while still making progress as music tastes around the world have evolved.
"The party scene in Israel has always been pretty wild," he says. "We always knew what was going on all over the world, and it's the same today. But it was people like John Digweed who first blew me away — and the man still does today."
Guy J takes some delight in recounting how he eventually came to record for revered British DJ Digweed's Bedrock label — and it was a process that has served him well over the years, too, leading to collaborations with the likes of German techno pioneer Sven Vath and, later, Canadian tastemaker Tiga. "We just kept sending John tapes," he says. "Sometimes that is the best way to get yourself noticed. My producer just kept sending him tapes and DJs like to listen to everything, so we knew he would do that at some point. It was the same with Sven. We sent tapes and hoped they liked something I did, and that's how the contact was made."
It was Guy J's work on Save Me in 2007 that led to Digweed chasing his signature for his Bedrock label and the connection between the two since has been continuous, leading to Guy J setting up his own label, Lost & Found, which has recently put the finishing touches on summer releases by artists such as Pedro Aguiar and Sahar Z.
"The idea with Lost & Found was John's," he says. "It was a sub-label for Bedrock first and that got us some attention and exposure. The idea really was to release a lot of my music and look at it as an opportunity to support other artists. The DJ community is not that large, and we always like to hear what other people are doing, so this is a way of supporting others, while also giving me the chance to hear all this amazing new music."
There were a number of near misses before 48 Hours finally got hold of Guy J at his base in Belgium, but he has a good reason for being so hard to pin down.
"Every day for me is all about music," he says. "It's 9.30 in the morning right now and my studio is ready to go. All the machines are turned on. I can be a hard man to catch. From time to time, I take a break to go online and stuff, but I am never far from the studio and never far from the music."
The move north was inspired by love: "I met my lady here. That's the best reason you can have to move to Belgium."
Another plus is that Antwerp allows him the space to get on with his work, without losing connection with the clubs and the music that inspires him. "I don't work here that much, but in general there is a good nightlife here," says Guy. "There are plenty of places to go out. Plus I can hide away and do my work. So I have the freedom to do what I want, but I never lose track of what is going on in the world of music."
And that's what takes up most of his time, the obsession ignited by those dreamy moments on the sand back home.
"Music is my life," he says. "As long as the music is around and the music is good, I'm happy."
Guy J, June 14, 10pm, Aqua, 29-30/F One Peking, 1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, HK$348 (advance), HK$398. Inquiries: 9027 9115