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Notion spoke to five time BRIT-nominated DJ and producer Joel Corry about everything from playing Tomorrowland and Love Island to the making of his new single, “History”.
If you’ve listened to dance music over the last few years, you’ve certainly heard a track by Joel Corry. The five time BRIT-nominated DJ/producer has five platinum UK records and over a decade of DJing experience in the global dance music circuit.
London-native Corry first gained traction in 2019 for his single, “Sorry” which broke the record for most Shazams in one day (+41,000). Since then, Corry’s collaboration roster includes dance music’s biggest names and it only continues to expand. In summer 2020, Corry released “Head & Heart” with MNEK taking the number one spot on the UK charts for six consecutive weeks. Things continued to heat up in 2021 with Corry’s release of three more hit singles including “BED” with Raye and David Guetta, “OUT OUT” with Jax Jones and Charlie XCX and “I WISH” featuring Mabel. This year, Corry reminded the club circuit that he is still a DJ at heart with the release of “The Parade” with Da Hool and “Liquor Store”.
Halfway through his sixteen week residency in Ibiza, Corry’s been making history by tweaking his upcoming single after each set to produce the final track with Becky Hill. With the single’s highly-anticipated release today, Corry confirms, “it has been six months in the making… and now that we have the final product, I know it is just right.” We spoke to Corry about his musical journey, life lately, and about the making of “History”.
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On Instagram, you recently wrote ‘biggest weekend of my year’ in reference to playing Tomorrowland and other things. Tell us about that weekend.
It was like a bit of a random one! Love Island asked if I would be up for DJing at the villa pool party and literally the day before I was playing on the mainstage at Tomorrowland. So, those were the two most different gigs you could ever do in your life.
The weekend started in Valencia, where I played a festival with a 3:00AM set start time. Then we had to fly to Belgium the next day to get to Tomorrowland, which is the biggest festival in the world. Right after Tomorrowland, we basically had to get to Germany to then fly to Mallorca for Love Island. I think I was in four different countries in one day.
Do you have a process to prepare for a big festival and how is that process different to playing a smaller gig?
My performances are the most important thing to me. If I have a gig on that day, I’m fully focused on that gig – thinking about it, visualising it, and preparing for it.
The approach to the two is very different. Festival sets are shorter. For example, Tomorrowland is only a one hour set, whereas, last time I played in Ibiza, I did a three hour set. With a three hour set, there’s enough time for me to build a really big journey from beginning to end and to take the crowd on a sort of musical journey – which I love doing!
Since you’ve only got one hour to play at a festival set – there are quicker transitions, and lots of high moments just to keep the crowd engaged. Condensing it all into one hour is tricky, and I would rather do the three hour sets because there is more freedom. With three hours, I don’t have to think so much about every single transition.
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If you weren’t a DJ right now, what do you think you would be doing instead and why?
I couldn’t give you an honest answer. I think I would have kept trying to be a DJ for the rest of my life because there is nothing else would rather be doing. I think any other ideas would have been a distraction for me career wise.
How do you think DJing/the industry has changed since your breakthrough single in 2019?
The biggest change that I’ve felt is how TikTok now plays a huge part in the chart game more than it did a couple of years ago. Now, the record labels know the power of TikTok and are prioritising getting the tracks on the platform immediately. It is tricky because I didn’t grow up with TikTok, and I still feel like a TikTok dinosaur right now. I never got comfortable with the platform – so I actually have someone on my crew now doing that for me full time. I certainly didn’t have that in 2019.
Musically speaking, do you think that the pandemic fuelled that social media fire?
Yeah, I do think so because people were bored at home. For them, getting TikTok was entertainment and that is when more people started using it. The hit records were becoming hit records off the back of the platform’s trends. Then, record labels caught onto this. It was almost like trying to make music for TikTok, and that just boosted the platform’s power even more.
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Would you say your sound has changed since 2019 to now?
Yeah. I think as a producer and DJ, I am always trying to make sure I am bringing something fresh. I’ve got my formula that’s working for me and I like to keep my sound consistent to a certain extent because people recognise it. If it’s working, it’s working – you don’t want to break something that isn’t broken. That is tricky too because music is always moving and I always want to do something that feels fresh too. Sometimes the songs that you didn’t think would be a hit, take off – so it’s just unpredictable. I think for me, it’s important to have a balance of radio and club records at the same time.
Is there a type of sound you still want to experiment with?
Yeah, as things go forward, I would be interested in stepping out of my lane a little. We’ve seen Calvin Harris do it. He was releasing dance bangers for years, and then started releasing really great pop records and collaborating with some amazing artists. At the moment, I’m happy in my lane of what I’m doing. However, in the future, I’d definitely be excited to experiment and would definitely be open to working on more pop-sounding records.
You have collaborated with David Guetta, Jax Jones, Charli XCX, Saweetie and more. More generally, is there someone in the industry that you still really want to work with? If so, who and why?
I would love to do a record with Ed Sheeran. I actually did a remix of “Bad Habits” which is how we first connected. We have hung out a couple times recently and we talked about getting together for some studio sessions. He is such an amazing songwriter – who knows what could come out of that? It could be a great dance record or it could be something else.
What song do you currently have on repeat?
I am not trying to just give a plug here, but the song I have had on repeat would be my new single with Becky Hill called “History”. It is coming out today, and I’ve been using my tour as a way to finesse this record. I’ve been playing it in every single set, getting the response and then tweaking it accordingly. That is the luxury of being a DJ by the way! The fact that I can play it live and then tweak it accordingly before locking it down. If I listen to the song seven versions ago, it has come a long way just from me playing it live and taking mental notes and going back to the studio and making those tweaks. Now, I have the final product, and I just know it is correct! I am so emotionally intertwined with this song – I have been working on it for six months and I have wanted to work with Becky Hill for so long.
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Also, congrats on your new track with David Guetta and Bryson Tiller “What would you do?” – how did this come about?
Honestly, there is such a good story to this one. I have been working on this track since February 2020 and it is sort of one of the longest projects I’ve ever been on.
When I first heard it, I felt an instant connection with the record – but I couldn’t get a feature on it for so long. I was sending it to everyone and not getting anything back for some reason. So, I was just constantly working on it in the background. When David Guetta invited me to Ibiza in the summer and we hung out, I showed him the “What Would You Do” demo and he instantly fell in love with it. He messaged me about the record and we got together to develop it. It strengthened the demo so much that Bryson Tiller heard the demo and liked it so much. Bryson Tiller – one of the coolest artists on the planet! We finished the record and released it in March 2022. It was nearly two years in the works.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Yes, to have people around you that will give you honest feedback. Someone told me a few years ago – make sure you don’t just have ‘yes men’ around you. This stuck with me and it extends to everything in life. I always want to improve what I am doing. In order for me to do that, it is important that there are those people in my circle that I know will be totally honest with me.
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