UK-based artist Zak Joshua first broke through on the electronic music scene when his debut solo track Figure It Out was uploaded to renowned tastemaker YouTube channel Selected. It has since gone on to accrue over 5 million views with a subsequent official release updated with new vocals and a fresh sonic polish in 2019. This set the wheels in motion for a re-evaluation of Zak’s goals as an artist, and a renewed ambition to make his mark on the dance scene at large. This month Zak kicks off his new label NEMESIS92 – the name of which pays homage to his father’s rave promotions of the 80s and 90s – with You Don’t Love Me Like You Say You Do: a slick deep, progressive house cut that serves as the perfect entry point to his richly melodic style…
Welcome to DMC – to kick us off, what’s one song you currently can’t get out of your head?
This summer I’ve had Prospa’s remix of ‘Never Let You Go’ by Georgia on repeat! I feel that those guys are going to lead the charge over the next couple of years.
Tell us a bit about your musical career so far… you’ve been working in a few different genres right?
I started making music at a young age, in bands; I played guitar and sang! Back in 2014 I released my first solo release, the house track ‘Figure It Out’, which got picked up by the ‘Selected’ youtube brand and ended up going viral, gaining millions of views. After spending some time honing my craft, I moved into the R&B & hip hop world, working as a producer & engineer for artists in the East Midlands, before finally releasing a couple of EP’s as an R&B artist in my own right. I still do a lot of work mixing and mastering in those genres.
Why did you feel it was the right time to come back to house music?
In 2019 ‘Selected’ approached me to release ‘Figure It Out’ on their label. It hadn’t been given a proper release before that as I’d used a sample in the original track! At the time I was struggling to find my lane as an R&B artist; I kind of felt like I was trying to be someone else. The idea of rebooting my career in dance music, with the opportunity to have my debut release on a respected label, was too good to ignore. I also came to realise that working on dance music is much more enjoyable for me; I love the constraints that the genre provides, in terms of tempo, texture & general structure. Having those constraints allows me to focus. Without them I tend to get lost in my own ideas!
Tell us about your new label… it’s named after your dad’s old rave outfit right?
Thats right! My new label is called ‘NEMESIS92’. ‘NEMESIS’ was the name of my dad’s rave company back in the early 90’s, and ’92’ is the year I was born. He was one of the first wave of legal rave promoters in the UK, putting on numerous events around the East Midlands and further afield, showcasing the likes of Carl Cox and The Prodigy at the start of their careers. I believe his name is on the liner notes for the ‘Experience’ album! I spent ages trying to think of a name for the label. At first I wanted to create my own, but my dad and I are very close and I felt that it would be a fitting tribute to him.
We expect you were a bit young, but did you ever get to experience any of those raves firsthand??
No, I was born in 1992! So I missed out on all that unfortunately. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood just how important that time was in the development of the culture.
It’s all a bit full circle at the moment with all the ‘plague raves’ going on. What’s your take on it? Understandable need to let off steam, or dangerous and irresponsible?
I’ve been talking about this a lot recently with other DJ’s. It’s a tough one. On a personal level, it’s not something I’d want to get involved with, as a DJ, promoter or punter, as I don’t think it helps the general situation, and I think the risk to myself and those around me is too great.Having said that, I don’t think it’s fair to judge people who want to carry on partying. For some people, it is the only thing that gets them through! I’m in a lucky position in that I get to live the life that I want to lead as a music professional. I’m happy. Other people are not so lucky, and if a party is what they need to get through the week, that’s their call. Prohibition didn’t work in 1920’s America & it won’t work today. The longer this situation goes on, the more of these raves we are going to see.
How would you describe your latest single?
‘You Don’t Love Me Like You Say You Do’ is the first release on my new label, and is a melodic house track that moves away from my earlier vocal-led work towards a darker sound. I tried to create a track that makes you want to move but retains an emotional punch!
What do you have planned for the label over the coming year or so? Any labels that you’re looking to emulate?
The label has been set up as an outlet for me to experiment creatively with different sounds. I already have 4 releases locked in for the coming months, ranging from the upcoming ‘Closer’, which is a vocal house track featuring an awesome singer called Morgan Munroe (15th Jan), to some melodic techno tracks in the spring.
What else should we be looking out for from Zak Joshua?
I’ve been working on a lot of music this year & I’m hoping to release one track a month up until the summer. Then I’d like to put together a longer format release towards the end of the year.
Finally, what’s the greatest house record of all time?
It’s a toss up between Break Of Dawn by Rhythm On The Loose & the Grant Nelson Mix of Solu Music’s Fade for me.
‘You Don’t Love Me Like You Say You Do’ is out now on NEMESIS92