Photo credit: Alexandre Paganelli
We made our first voyage into London’s newest music venue, the 5,000 capacity Printworks, and spoke with rising talent Wax Wings about combing music, art and fashion.
After months of anticipation, our first trip into the cavernous depths of London’s new music super-space was everything we wanted it to be. It seems after a year of doom and gloom around London’s clubbing landscape, Printworks is quite literally a bright light at the end of a very very long dark tunnel.
Photo credit: Danny North
Every step of the Printworks experience is memorable; from strolling up to the Surrey Quays location at the crack of noon, to entering its steel-clad labyrinth, to the first time you witness the main halls amorphous, shapeshifting lighting rig. The rugged beauty of the space is contrasted only by the brilliant level of organisation that the London Warehouse Events (LWE) team provides; well stocked bars, lots of great seating for pit stops and street food for essential pre-dance carb-loading. You can tell this isn’t their first rodeo.
Our maiden voyage saw Maya Jane Coles bringing together an A-team of techno heavyweights, whilst also showcasing some exciting new talent. Our pick from the latter is upcoming DJ and producer Wax Wings. We met Wax Wings just after having our first taste of the venue. It was hard to stay focussed on discussion as we heard rave classics like Autechre – Nine and Orbital – Belfast rumble through the artists’ area. What we discovered underneath his monochromatic uniform was a multi-faceted creative in love with a world just outside of comfortable.
You just played the first set in the massive main room, The Press Hall, how is it sounding?
I am loving the space, loving the sound. It’s got a real Berlin feel to it. Someone said to Will (who runs LWE) “you’ve out-Berlined Berlin here” and he’s very much enjoying that quote. Printworks is the sort of place we need to compete with cities like Berlin and Amsterdam. When Fabric closed, it really seemed that for a while London was clutching at straws for places that had that industrial, raw feel that resonates so well with electronic music; even more so with the gritty mechanical sounds of techno.
Photo credit: Luke O’Brien
I know you have a penchant for the darker, heaver hitting sounds as well so you probably loved a chance to crank it up in there.
Yeah, just wait for the room 2 set later. I’m looking forward to getting intimate and weird right there.
Joseph’s second set didn’t disappoint. By the time we arrived in room 2, he already had the place packed out and locked in, dropping a slew of wonky and thumping tracks that would be just as at home on the terrace as in the dungeon.
How do you prepare for a set like this when it’s a daytime event? A round of shots seems a bit too strong for 10am. Do you have any rituals?
For me it’s a much longer process than just the hours before. My ritual spans the month prior to a set like this one with a hunt and search for tracks. I don’t pre-plan my sets but I like to come with a concept of how I want the set to flow. I want it to speak in a certain tone so I have to really get to know the tracks beforehand.
How did your association with Maya Jane Coles come about?
I met Maya when she did the Mixmag Live event at Village Underground in summer 2013. I met her through my manager, Steven Braines. You know how it is when you meet a manager; I wanted to know if he was legit. So he said “well come and see Maya then”… and that was proof enough for me, I’ve been a part of the team ever since!
Joseph is a managed by The Weird & The Wonderful who are a management company and record label, releasing his first two EP’s, “System” and “The Love Inside Me” in 2016. They refer to themselves as a more of a family than a business and alongside Wax Wings have also put out records from fellow signee Chelou, as well as managing Maya Jane Coles, Justin Martin, KDA and Catz ’N Dogz whilst previous clients include Tricky, Tale Of Us & Magda.
Photo credit – Justine Trickett
So you also went to Japan with Maya and you got to do some shows there, I hear you have a soft spot for the country?
Yes it began at an early age, drawing manga, being into anime and it kind of snowballed from there. For the past year and a half I’ve even been teaching myself Japanese. I got booked to DJ there in 2014 at Tokyo’s best gay party, FancyHIM and of course Maya is half-Japanese so everything just fell together nicely. Taking the family out there and doing a tour was just a dream and did I mention we’re back again in April for round 2! 楽しいい!
Love it, unagi has to be my top choice.
So you have talents in a huge range of arts; illustration, painting, photography, fashion. Do you like to combine those skills into one output?
I’m definitely a control freak. I think all artists should experiment with other medias because they all are interchangeable . The techniques you use in music are exactly the same as in other forms of art. You’re just layering a different medium. Layering sounds, like you’re layering paints, like you’re layering clothes… they all follow a similar equation. I think the time has passed where it’s just okay to coast by on one skill, by having more strings to your bow, you never know which thing might take you on an unexpected journey towards your goals. It’s more exciting that way in my opinion.
Have you ever considered combining everything into one experience?
It’s on its way. I want to combine the music, the art, the fashion all into one package. I do a lot of caricatures and I’m moving into animations soon so I can bring all my characters and drawings to life and let them speak for themselves.
Tell us more about these caricatures. I’ve seen a few on your Instagram (@josephicaro).
Some of them are of my friends, some are of me; they’re exaggerations of particular aspects of these people I meet. Some are fusions, you see a crazy person in town and that just totally inspires me to be like “maybe I combine this person with someone I know.”
One that really stuck with me was a crazy head with a crown of candles?
Ah yes, that’s my party, Spin Cycle, which I do with DJ Anna Wall and Coco Cole. We do it bi-monthly at Dalston Superstore. That’s where I get to test out these characters in real life. So each event we book a host and I do the artwork to coordinate. The birthday candles figure was the host, Lewis Burton. He’s a drag performer, a crazy character. I made the birthday candle headdress, fully functioning; we lit them on the night!
What’s in the pipeline for Wax Wings in the rest of 2017?
There’s a couple of EPs which are being released which follow on from one to another. With every release I take a different tangent but they all come together as a package; a natural progression that builds up to the album, which is also forthcoming.
What can we expect from the EPs?
The next release is my Gracedace EP, a front to back techno collage, inspired by a lot of the clubs I have been playing in recently. Then the following EP resonates more with the album.
Finally, I saw you have an Abe’s Odyssey T-Shirt, where on earth did you get that?!
Speaking of, is this venue not just Rupture Farms?!
Words by David March.
Listen to Wax Wings on Soundcloud.
Follow Wax Wings on Facebook.
See the full calendar for Printworks 2017 and buy tickets here.