The Director’s Cut: Jozef K – Battle

UK producer Jozef K has released his debut album Battle out on Nite Grooves, the sub label of the NYC King Street Sounds. The 10-tracker covers a lot of ground in a little over an hour with soft ambient textures, 90’s breakbeats and jungle all blended into a cohesive work. The record is out now to stream and purchase. As you check it out below, read along with his Director’s Cut that gives some insight into where he was in his life writing this album and a breakdown of each song. 

Stream the full album and get your copy of it on Beatport or Traxsource.

Context – In order to contextualize the album, I want to explain my mental state at the time. I had just moved back to Manchester after a weekly Ibizan summer residency, and on returning to the city, the club I held a residency at had closed down. Meaning that I was fucked financially as that was my main income stream. And to make matters worse, my girlfriend broke up with me around this time, leaving me technically homeless and fully broke. I like to believe the break up was not linked to this, maybe, maybe not.

I was pretty fortunate starting out in music, landing my first big club residency at 19, but at the age of 27 for the first time in my life I felt lost, I genuinely didn’t know what to do. I remember crying myself to sleep at night, on several occasions. Not fun. It was a rapid transition from being in a relationship and living/DJing in Manchester and Ibiza, to having basically nothing – I guess you could say it was character building. Huge thanks to my parents for welcoming me back to live at home with open arms at this time and for being an eternal safety net for my brothers and myself.

I then decided to immerse myself in music, deep enough to escape the outside world. I don’t recommend this as a long term coping mechanism, but as a short term coping fix it can serve as a guide, through a long, dark, tunnel (pun for the jungle heads). I remember doing so at high school to a lesser extent and have done it many times through periods of misfortune/difficulty. I am sure I will again. In a way I feel blessed to at least have something that I can turn to that isn’t drugs or alcohol, which I guess, is the usual go-to for most people in such situations.

And this escape, this immersion, was my decision to make this album. I figured if I could manage to block everything else out, and write something that meant something to me, then if nothing else it could serve as a transition into a much needed, different mental place. I wasn’t good for much at that time – not that I am ever, but I was particularly not good for much then!

After working on the album for the next 5/6 months I sent it out in it’s formative state to some DJs and hearing really nice reviews from Nina Kraviz and Levon Vincent instilled some much needed confidence, helping me to achieve the realization that maybe, just maybe, I was on the right path after all. Huge thanks to Nina & Levon for this, as I don’t think they both understood how much of a difference their words made in my fragile state.

How to listen: However the fuck you want, there is a layered narrative but that was for my own selfish catharsis – I prefer the listener to make up their own stories and have their own memories and associations. I’ve watched too many hours of David Lynch to tell people what to think about my art.

The only thing I would say, and keeping this as vague as possible, is that the tracks on the album were made chronologically, for the most part.

1. Restriction 

This is an immersive, ambient introduction, consisting of Lauryn Hill talking over some deep drum grooves, overdriven pads and quadruple layered vinyl/tape hiss recordings. Intentionally the longest track on the album and also the least elements. Indicative of my headspace upon starting the album, lost, drifting and disorientated.

2. Inhale/Exhale

It is subtle & deep, though with a little more energy than the opener. It features a hang drum sample, excessive textural layering, overdrive, tons of reverb and a barely intelligible guided meditation throughout.

3. Indigo Isabelline

Atmospheric & melodic. This is also the first tune with any MIDI notes. One of my favorite things to do is fuck around with the arpeggiator pattern across the entire track to build/detract tension, which is evident on this. Love a trill melody pattern too.

4. Tokyo Harmonic Sequence 

Love the traditional Japanese vocal sample on this, fuck knows where I found it. It says “Sakura” which means cherry blossom. I am playing there in May [Editor's note, probably not] so will have to get someone to translate it. I hope it is something evil and not some nursery rhyme shit.

5. L-O-V-E

Nostalgic breaks and pads over an emotional acid line. My manager liked this one and so did Maya Jane Coles.

6. Ladies & Gentlemen We Are In Descent 

An album single, which is basically me taking the piss out of the ridiculousness of contemporary celebrity culture. The sample is Paris Hilton talking the most cringe bullshit ever about DJing and I thought it deserved immortalizing forever. The title is from a Tannoy announcement on an internal flight in China and thought I had to use it here. As separate entities, they fit perfectly.

DJ support was pretty sweet for this one, with Laurent Garnier, Brame & Hamo, DJ Seinfeld, Lauren Flax, Baikal and some other cool humans saying nice things about and DJing with it.

7. T.2.A.T.D

My effort at non-sleazy, sexual tension.

8. Caught A Glimpse Now It Haunts Me

U.K. hardcore/jungle – Reese bass, air horns, chopped up breaks. Could easily be on a Bluematter record (the jungle project I do with Thomas Ragsdale), but it has its place relating to the personal catharsis process I mentioned earlier. Revisited this after improving my junglist technique through Bluematter studio sessions.

9. Golden Galaxies Made Of Light 

Ambient interlude pre-cursor to the closing track, named after a DMT vision I had.

10. Sunrise MCR

Breaks. Rave strings. Dark pads. Toms. Tape hiss. The sun rises once again over Manchester.

Jozif K also does Studio Wednesday Instagram stories, hosted every Wednesday going through latest productions and the techniques deployed