Interview: Jody Wisternoff Talks "Nightwhisper" and Transitioning to Electronic Music

The album making process can range from cathartic to stressful, contingent on an artist's approach and circumstances. For iconic Bristol DJ/producer, Jody Wisternoff, the production of his sophomore album, Nightwhisper—released last month via Anjunadeep—proved to serve as what he refers to as "audio yoga."

Jody Wisternoff - Nightwhisper

It was written during one of the most tumultuous periods of his life in 2019, where he experienced ups—such as headlining the first-ever Albanian edition of Anjunadeep Explorations—to downs, with the passing of his father.

Yet, despite experiencing such impactful life moments, Wisternoff was able to write an exquisite 12-track album in the course of a year.

Being part of Way Out West might have been Wisternoff's first piece of fame, but it's his solo work that is sure to add resilience to his legacy as one of electronic music's most distinctive artists.

Reverb caught up with Wisternoff to discuss the inner workings of Nightwhisper and his humble hip-hop beginnings leading into his arrival to the UK rave scene.

How has producing helped you to keep your sanity through the pandemic?

Of course, this is a terrible thing to be going through. It's a massive mind trip. I've been staying inside growing my hair out and making beats. I've been having loads of time to make music which in a lot of ways is incredible. I really miss partying, hanging out with Anjuna family, and traveling, but not as much as someone who has just started doing this. I've been doing this for so long and it's not as much as a welcome break, but it does feel like I can handle it.

Your debut album was released in 2012. How did timing play a role in you releasing Nightwhisper? What helped you realize this was the right time to release it?

I just thought that last year was a good time to write an album because of the stuff that was going on; my dad was ill and then he died. All this stuff is a reason to be creative because you're processing so many sad thoughts, emotions, and experiences and you have to turn it into something positive and meaningful.

Also, I didn't want to release a succession of EPs and singles, because in a way they kind of get forgotten about. There's no real campaign that goes on behind them. Whereas with a whole album, the whole team gets together and there's a lot of thought that gets put into the artwork, marketing, and touring when we get back on the road again.

Plus, you can hold it and put it up on a wall as artwork. It feels more like an event and solid thing. It's a privilege to be able to do this and have a label behind me to invest all this time and energy towards it. It's wonderful.

If I was writing it [Nightwhisper] now, perhaps I'd be telling a different story. I got the final mix finished before everything got weird. I got back home the second week of March from Japan, and things changed so quickly then. I was thinking, Thank God the album is finished!

You've definitely had ups and downs in 2019. I met you in Albania for Anjunadeep Explorations, then your father passed away. There's a song on the album called "Blue Space" that you created with fellow producer, James Grant. One of the lyrics in the song that resonated with me was, "I've been looking everywhere for a sign." Can you go into detail about the song? Tell me about the place you were in.

To do with the lyrics, I think Jinadu [the track's featured singer] is a time traveler. He wrote that and it makes a lot more sense now. I was like, How the hell did you predict the future? It's much more relevant with what we're going through now. So, that's kind of trippy. I can't claim any of the lyrical input. That was all Jinadu.

As far as the track is concerned, it's the first thing me and James did after Albania. The vibe of it was post-Albania—the extreme vibes and extreme sadness I was going through. I was not sleeping much for five days and having a hell of a lot of fun. I was trying to stay on a good buzz from there.

Jody Wisternoff & James Grant feat. Jinadu - "Blue Space"

How do you feel this album, if at all, served as a catharsis for you?

I think making music in general is a form of therapy. It's almost like audio yoga. We're doing it and not thinking about it. We act on instinct and creativity without second guessing anything.

At the age of 13, you created beats for your little brother who was a finalist as a rapper in the DMC World DJ Championship. That's amazing!

I was in the background and doing a bit of scratching. We were properly into hip-hop when we were kids.

What were you into specifically?

All the old-school hip-hop, late '80s Def Jam. That was our inspiration and what we got into when we were kids. The whole hip-hop movement just blew our minds. It was something so energetic and rebellious.

So then, what got you into electronic music?

My parents were really into music, so there was always stuff playing in the house. It wasn't like I went from '80s electro, New Order or New Romantic, or any of that stuff. I went straight into the early hip-hop stuff from not really caring about music.

My dad would drive me to house parties because he was kind of a mover and shaker. Instead of getting a babysitter, he'd take me and my little brother along with him. We sat in the corner and there would be people on decks emceeing. We were exposed to the early UK hip-hop culture.

I can relate. My dad was a DJ and we lived in Germany for a bit. He would take me to parties too! My parents also didn't want to look for a babysitter. Reflecting on when you were fresh on the rave scene in the '90s until now with Nightwhisper, how do you feel your values as an artist has evolved?

I suppose it's an incredible amount of experience coupled with experiencing a few crises in the music industry, mainly the internet being an interesting thing to deal with. We've had a couple of massive ups and downs throughout our musical timeline. The financial crisis of 2008 hit.

Plus, Way Out West was really famous at one point. We were never on the level of The Chemical Brothers or Underworld, but we were really big to really small as well. So, I've had quite a varied ride of it. It makes you thick-skinned and able to deal with things. It's always been about the music. It's not about the parties, guest list, flying around, champagne, and glamour. Take that all away and it's about the music. That's what we live for. That's what I wake up in the morning thinking about and dream about. I've had dreams about drum machines! It's a lifestyle.

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