Dark DiscoHyperdub Archives

Who is Joe Nice?


The master of the 410 formula, the CEO of Coldness, the Baron of Beats, Bass and Boom, Mr. Minus Degree. The leader in the North American quest to preach the dubstep gospel to the masses, he’s played the legendary DMZ night in London, had Jammer and Skepta going buckwild over his plates. Despite his good fortune and acclaim coming from all corners, he’s still as humble as it comes.  Kuma checks in with the man himself.

Art Of Beatz:
So, for those who don’t know, and this may well be read by a brand new audience, who the hell is Joe Nice?

Joe Nice: Who is Joe Nice….I’m a lover of music. A DJ. The U.S. ambassador to dubstep. Radio show guru — at least in my own mind and maybe the mind of others. People say I’m the mayor of Baltimore..and…I have to laugh. I’m not always out all the time, but when I’m out, it’s like everyone knows me. Maybe it’s true…I don’t know.

Art Of Beatz: Are you happy with the title? With being the face of North American dubstep that is?

Joe Nice: Hmm….you know Kuma, I am. I honestly am. i believe it’s safe to say that I’m probably the first dubstep DJ in the states. I mean…there have been other DJs that have played dubstep, but they’ve mixed it with 4/4 or grime or 2-step or even breaks….but in terms of just dubstep, I’m certain I was first. Being “the face” of American dubstep is important and it’s a huge responsibility — one that I’ve been willing to shoulder from day one, dubstep is a growing sound…you and I see this every day.

Art Of Beatz: Of course.

Joe Nice: And more and more people are finding out about the sound. A couple times a week, I’ll get emails from people I’ve never chatted with online or in person that will say that they heard one of my mixes and they’re hooked, and you know how dubsteppers are…we’re really a family. Everyone is in it for the right reasons…and we’re always looking for more people to get onto the sound. It’s one thing to have someone tell me that they’re hooked..it’s another to keep them hooked, that’s the plan.

Art Of Beatz: Does being the pied piper come naturally or is it a role you’ve eased into?

Joe Nice: The pied piper? Hahah!

Art Of Beatz: Joe Nice: The Pied Piper of Dubstep

Joe Nice: For those that know me — I’m not exactly bashful, it’s been easy for me to play that role; and I’m happy to do it. My brother and I chatted a while back — not about music, about life and how he got promoted and he said something that stuck with me…”If not now, when? If not me, who?” I thought about that and it made all the sense in the world. Kuma…someone has to do it. Why not me? Why not now?

Art Of Beatz: So how do you keep them hooked? Electronic music fans, especially dancefloor based enthusiasts, in North America, have such a short attention span (i.e, raving–clubbing–burnout)..

Joe Nice: Hmmm…good question. staying fresh is very important. Even though I’m a DJ, I’m also a fan. and I’m coming from the perspective of, “If i wasn’t a DJ, what would i want to hear?” You also cant come with the same stuff over and over again. that’s part of the reason why i do Gourmet Beats once a month

Art Of Beatz: Speaking of staying fresh: dubplate culture, positive or negative?

Joe Nice: Positive. Dubplates = excitement. Dubplates = the future of what’s to come. Dubplates get people talking. Look at how many people talk about a certain tune by a certain producer..next thing you know, the producer finds out…more people talk…the tune gets released. There are some tunes that will never see the light of day…and — honestly, that’s ok too.

Art Of Beatz: So why Dubstep? I ask because out of all the scenes I’ve been involved in, never have I seen such an eclectic crew of  nutters.

Joe Nice: Dubstep just makes sense to me.

Art Of Beatz: As opposed to say, house or jungle?

Joe Nice: The minute I first heard dubstep loud, I knew it was the music i wanted to be a part of…..regardless. Dubstep is the one sound, not genre…sound, that has that feeling of anticipation and excitement. How can i say this…..hmmm…it’s like when you meet a girl and you know she’s the one…..you meet the girl….and you call her and you cant stop thinking about her. You want to hang out with her. you want to talk to her on the phone. it’s one of those things. you know what i mean? It’s a feeling that really needs no explanation. When you know…you know. Some people get it instantly, some take a bit longer…some don’t — and that’s cool.

Art Of Beatz: Does being from Baltimore have any influence on your rhythmic tendencies?

Joe Nice: Sort of….before I started playing dubstep nearly 4 years ago, I used to play BALTIMORE club. Baltimore club had a lot of bass…and I was always used to bass. The louder the better. My parents are from the Caribbean, so I grew up listening to a lot of Soca, calypso and reggae….those sounds are all bass heavy and rhythmical. I guess you could say that it’s in my blood.

Art Of Beatz: Does being a Ravens fan have any influence on your rhythmic tendencies?

Joe Nice: Hell no! Have you seen that Ray Lewis dance? Bro, I’m not sure what that is….besides, the cheerleaders are too busy dancing to Black Box & C+C Music Factory tunes….I’m eyeing them and they’re not listening to what I’m doing.

Art Of Beatz: So where’s the Joe Nice tunes? Most of the top boy DJs are making beats minus a few..you, Youngsta (if you ignore the DMZ Remix)..

Joe Nice: I’m glad you think of me as a top boy DJ. Thanks for the good words. Tunes…they’re coming…believe me. I need to make time for it. I have ideas that I think would work. I’ve been so focused on pushing the sound in as many places as I can — the thought of production was light years away. Kuma…it’s gonna take time. but i need to make that happen.

Art Of Beatz: Well, I’m not the only one, people like Martin Clark talk about you as being one of the ones to watch for 06′. Do you think that like in jungle, you may need to make tune to really break the name?

Joe Nice: And I’m appreciative for that. believe me. Dubstep is more than just me…it’s more than just London. The sounds are worldwide. You know…I never thought of making a tune to see if that would “break my name”. Then again, it’s not really about me getting popular, it’s about the growth of the sound. If fans and listeners equate what I’m doing with the proliferation of dubstep — I’m all for it. And…if people keep bigging me up on the forums and in the clubs…and during the chats on the radio shows….the popularity will continue on. I don’t want to get too hot….and flame out…or get too cold and never get hot again. I just want to stay warm….

Art Of Beatz: Do you like cake?

Joe Nice: Nah..I’m a pie guy. Apple pie. Scoop of vanilla on top. Cake..nah man. Cake is messy…plus the frosting gets everywhere…..pie all the way. Now..I don’t like pot pies..or shepherd’s pie. Pies should have fruit..not ground beef or potatoes. But I guess that’s just me…and this the first time I’ve ever thought about pies in depth .

 Art Of Beatz: What don’t we know about Joe Nice that perhaps we should?

Joe Nice: Wow….well….I’m afraid of heights. I cant swim either. and — according to many, I snore. I know….giving you all the juicy details. I mean…..there’s really not much that people don’t know about me. I’m here. I’ll tell you this…I love music from the 80’s. I’m dead serious….and I’m not talking just about MJ, The Police, Prince and Madonna. I’m talking about those groups you forgot about, like Journey, Chicago, Tears for Fears and Atlantic Starr.

Art Of Beatz: Steve Perry?

Joe Nice: I was also real into those “hair bands” too. To this day, you probably wont find a better rock album than Guns & Roses – Appetite For Destruction. Steve Perry…that guy can sing. for real. If I had to start a 4 man band, these are the players.

Drums – either John Bonham or Steward Copeland.

Bass – Larry Graham (from Sly & The Family Stone). The man created ‘slap bass”. without him, there’s no Bootsy Collins. There’s no Rick James. There’s no Victor Wooten. Larry Graham is the guy.

Guitar – hendrix.

Lead singer – It’s either Steve Perry or Freddie Mercury from Queen.

Art Of Beatz: What intrigues you?

Joe Nice: Truth. That intrigues me….not really what is true, but the pursuit of truth. talent intrigues me. When I see someone that does something that I cant do ( and I want to do what they’re doing) that intrigues me. The future intrigues me…what’s next? What’s out there? What’s gonna happen?

Art Of Beatz: What is it about radio that you enjoy so much? Doing radio that is…

Joe Nice: Radio — oh man. I love it. it’s more than fun….if that’s possible. I love being able to present something fresh each month to the listeners. I’ve been told I have a radio voice (whatever that means) — maybe I do. People are still listening. Plus….I get to be me. I can crack jokes….chat with people during the show and have a good time for that hour on Breaks FM or GourmetBeats; it’s just pure enjoyment. The real joy is sharing with others. You’ve been in the chatroom before. I’ll drop a tune and the entire room is calling for the reload…..(I’ve got a huge smile on my face right now as I’m answering this question)…that’s — wow, I cant even think of the words to describe it. There’s no substitute for appreciation….

Joe Nice: The chatroom…that’s taken on a life of it’s own too. No one in the room ever says “RELOAD” anymore….everyone says 5.  Literally…the number 5.

Art Of Beatz: 5 for the reload…

Joe Nice: When I started the chat a few months ago, I’d always say, 5 for the reload…not thinking that people were taking that phrase literally….so instead of saying reload…or rewind, I’m seeing 555555 or FIVE FIVE FIVE FIVE.

Art Of Beatz: 5 is the happiest number.

Joe Nice: 5 is the magic number.

Joe Nice: But now..it’s all about the windmill and I might as well give you the full explanation on this.

Art Of Beatz: What is up with the windmill?

Joe Nice: Ok….it’s really one of those “you had to be there” moments, but it’s still funny. Now — i have to preface this story by a bit of history. Everytime I’m done a set….after the club, it’s the unofficial comedy hour. No idea why….it just is. The windmill got started at DUBWAR III….it’s 445am and there’s a handful of us outside the venue, me, DaveQ, Seckle, Paul…and Moldy. Now Moldy is a Boston Red Sox fan living in New York…and he was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat. So..I proceeded to tell him a story about a O’s / Sox game in Baltimore and the Sox’s 3rd base coach, Wendell Kim. (keep his name in mind). Pedro was on the mound and he’s dealing…no one is hitting him. O’s pitcher, Sidney Ponson is trying to keep pace, but it’s not gonna happen…this was vintage Pedro.  So…me and my friend Andy (who’s nickname is Deuce) are 10 rows away from the dugout. Wendell…has a dubious nickname, “Wavin’ Wendell”. he’s notorious for sending runners home from 3rd base..and having those runners get thrown out. In short…he’s the butt of all jokes, yet everyone seems to talk about him.

So…..there are two Boston fans behind me and Deuce. The stadium is quiet…and these Sox fans start screaming..”NICE ASS WENDELL !!!!!” It gets quiet again..”HEY WENDELL, I KNOW YOU HEAR ME !!!!” This went on for the remainder of the game….I couldn’t stop laughing.  So..back to Rothko….I ended up telling Moldy that story….and while I’m telling the story, I’m waving my arms like Wendell….in windmill fashion. It’s 5 in the morning and we’re laughing hysterically. now — here’s where the story gets dicey, I’m sure I ended up saying, “here’s Wendell…just windmilling — for no good reason”, but if you ask someone else, they’ll tell you that Moldy said the word “windmill”. So…last months show…I said, “Sounds of the Windmill”…the chat was like…”Whoa…what’s this windmill business all about?”  and it’s grown from there…so…after all that, there’s the windmill story.

Art Of Beatz: So, what’s next? What does the future hold for Joe Nice?

Joe Nice: A house on the hill…a winning lottery ticket.. nah…who knows. More shows…more events….production. An American-based dubstep label…..there’s a lot that I want to get accomplished for 2006. You only live once.

Art Of Beatz: Any final words for our listener/readership?

Joe Nice: Yes..firstly, I want to thank you Kuma for this interview. For the listeners/readers/bloggers..etc, be yourself. Be the best you can be. Be a better example. Be an inspiration. I also want to thank everyone locally, regionally, nationally and internationally for the support that I’ve received. Every IM, or PM or message on a forum or on MySpace…it means a lot. When you can be yourself and have others appreciate you for you and what you do, that’s fulfilling. You all are wonderful. I’m blessed — What can I say? Lastly…..be patient or be a patient. The goodness doesn’t come overnight…sometimes you have to wait for the goodness to come to you.


DMZ – Intergalactic Dub
NType – Rise RMX
Skream – 0800 Dub
Distance – My Demons
Scuba – Nomad Rmx
Loefah – Struck Dumb
Random Trio – Zambi
Plasticman – Mammoth Remix
OrisJay – 808 Part II.

Interview by Kuma.  Photos of Joe Nice at Dub War 3 in New York by Seckle.

This interview and an exclusive Joe Nice podcast were originally published at Art of Beatz.

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Category: Interviews

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Riddim.ca was founded by DJ/writer paul autonomic (aka Mr. Bump) in February 2005 as a hub for North America's nascent grime and dubstep scenes. Since then we've helped promote events across the continent and made friends around the world. Mostly dormant now, we're host to one of the web's largest collections of writing on the late-Garage dis/continuum as well as a growing collection of rare audio and scans (coming eventually).