Joshua Caprice fits the archetype of the journeyman DJ, with his work doing A&R for labels, promoter for events, dancer on the floor and, most significantly, as a house music producer under his stage name, J Caprice. After a year on the road as a touring DJ and seeing the dance music industry during its highs and lows, Caprice has a particularly informed point of view on the subject that he explores in this week's Q&A.
After a long stint working with other labels, a health scare lead him to his new imprint, Simplistic Music Co.
House music can come in a variety of flavors. Caprice delivers what can be affectionally referred to as the jackin' variety for this week's mixtape — an ever-building and foot-stomping celebration of house music, with an appropriate amount of funk and anthem-dropping divas strewn throughout.
How did you get started on this DJ journey?
Music has always been a big part of my life. I started out as a vocalist singing in solo competitions. At the age of 9, I started singing barbershop [music] and that's when I fell completely in love with being on stage. I went on to play in a couple bands that had a very '90s-grunge vibe. Throughout these experiences, something still felt empty. I didn't really feel like I was expressing myself musically to my fullest. Some good friends of mine started telling me about raves and started playing mixtapes for me. I became very curious and wanted to see what all the hype was about. My friends decided to take me to this party in Ohio where I saw Paul Johnson play. The moment he went on stage, it was magical and I knew right away that DJing and underground music was what I wanted to do with my music career. It was such an exciting feeling. I had been searching for years for the right way to express myself musically, and I never thought I would find it in a broken-down movie theater in Ohio.
What drew you to house music?
House music to me has this freedom to it. I remember going to parties and just seeing the connection between the music and the crowd. Everybody smiling and letting go. House music had me hooked immediately. The house music scene in the Midwest was very powerful in the '90s and still is to this day.
What music did you grow up listening to?
I grew up in a very musically open-minded family. There was a wide range of music I grew up listening to. My mom tuned me on to barbershop, jazz, bluegrass, funk, blues and classic rock. My dad was big into rock as well, but most of the stuff I remember him listening to was very strange — almost avant garde. He was also really big into ambient and early electronic music. My sister turned me on to a lot of punk and metal. In my early teens, I really got into grunge and hip-hop. I've also always had a big love for the jam band and reggae scene.
What was your history with Juiced Music and Home Again Recordings Digital?
Matt Pruitt (4Peace) and I started DJing and producing under the name High Maintenance. We were turning out so many tracks at the time we felt that launching a record label was the right move. We launched Juiced Music in 2009. I took on the roll of A&R and helped a lot with the imaging and branding of the label. I launched Home Again Recordings Digital (H.A.R.D) a couple years later as a side label for my solo stuff and for a lot of producers I was really enjoying that didn't fit the Juiced Music format. At the end of 2016, I shut down Home Again Recordings Digital and left Juiced Music. I was having a lot of health issues and needed to step away from the business to focus on getting better.
What was your experience like doing A&R?
A&R work is awesome if you have the right mind frame and patience. I loved the whole experience. I've met a lot of amazing people because of doing A&R work. My favorite part of the job was finding undiscovered talent and introducing them to the underground community. I really never had any problems dealing with artists. I can think of maybe four times from 2009 to 2015 that an artist really became stressful to deal with. I've heard a lot of horror stories from other people that do A&R work. I like to think I was pretty open-minded and fair about everything and that's why things always went so smoothly. I do miss it, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things with my new label Simplistic Music Company.
How did Simplistic Music Company come about?
My health started becoming an issue in 2014, but I kept it a secret from everyone except my family. Things started becoming really bad in late 2015. It got to a point I just couldn't hide it anymore. I was in and out of the ER on the regular and nobody could tell me what was wrong. That's when I decided to start what became a longer break away from the business than I expected. First I stepped away from playing gigs because I was starting to get sick on the road and it became very nerve-racking. I started getting extremely stressed out and depressed because nobody could really figure out what was going on with me. Finally in mid-2016, the doctors figured out what was going on and that's when I decided to step away from the labels to focus on my health and getting myself out of the depression I had fallen into. Throughout this break I started studying Buddhism and started practicing meditation. Through meditation, I learned a lot about myself. The main thing I learned was I have a big problem with over-thinking things and making things a lot harder on myself than they should be — especially in the studio and behind the decks. I started to really focus on editing myself and finding the beauty in simplicity. After simplifying my mind and becoming more disciplined in the studio, I realized that I have a new story to tell through my music. Once I realized this, my self-esteem and drive started coming back. My health was back in check and my head was back in the game. I felt that it was time to start a new label and the name Simplistic Music Company just felt right for this next chapter in my life.
What is your history with residencies here in Dallas?
My first residency was at the Velvet Hookah in Addison. I started out as a barback and worked my way up to assistant bar manager. I wanted to DJ at the Hookah since the day I started, but they had a full lineup of DJs already in rotation. One night one of the DJs didn't show up, and they needed someone to play. I lived a half mile from the club, so I talked the manager into letting me go get my records and that's the night I landed my first residency in Dallas. I then went on to do BANG! with Kelly Marie, 4Peace and eventually the ESP crew joined forces with us. BANG! Started out at Green Elephant then it moved to Moosh. After Moosh closed, we moved the night to Zubar. Eventually BANG! came to a stop and that's when 4Peace and I started Hijacked at Zubar. That night went on for a couple years, then 4Peace moved away. After Matt moved, I took a few months off from my residency to come up with a new night. That's when Preach and I joined forces to do Jack The System. That was another night that had a lot of success and went on for a couple years as well. I honestly don't remember why we stopped. My last residency in Dallas was with Demarkus Lewis. The night was called Grin & Juiced. We did that night for about a year at Zubar. I really wish it would have gone on longer, but that was right about the time Greenville started taking a big hit. Zubar shut down just a few months after we stopped the night. It was so sad to see that club go away. Zubar always felt like home to me. I'm really honored to have been part of its history. I really miss that place.
There is more talent in Dallas than available venues. How much of shift did you feel after Zubar closed?
There are so many talented artists in this city. Dallas has always reminded me of Chicago, based on the caliber and amount of talent that resides here. When Zubar closed, it was like the icing on the cake. The shift really started when Deep Ellum started pushing a lot of the clubs out. After the shift in Deep Ellum, it seemed like everyone flocked to the clubs on Greenville. Once the city started cleaning up and pushing new laws along Greenville, things of course started dying out just like with Deep Ellum. Zubar was one of the last places to go, and I think it was a shock to a lot of the scene to see the doors close. I will say that over the last couple years, things have started picking back up in the club scene here in Dallas. There have been a few new venues open that have been doing some really awesome events for the underground community.
At one point you were on the road more than playing at home. How different was it playing on the road versus playing on home turf?
I fell in love with traveling and experiencing different scenes. I felt more free playing on the road than I did playing locally. There was less politics involved, and I felt like I could let go and push things harder. Don't get me wrong — I love this city and I love playing here when it's offered, but a lot of the time I didn't feel as accepted as I did when I was traveling.
How was this mix made and was there a theme behind it?
I went into making this mix with the idea of making something special. I wanted to get back to my roots and tap into the vibes that made me fall in love with house. I wanted to make a mix that spreads love and positivity. I feel I accomplished that goal, and I really hope everyone that listens can hear that message.
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What music do you gravitate to outside of dance music?
At the moment, I've been listening to a lot of jam bands and reggae, like Grateful Dead, Phish, Medeski Martin & Wood, Keller Williams, Fat Freddy's Drop, Lee Scratch Perry, Mad Professor. I could list so many, but these are the groups that are in heavy rotation when I'm not listening to dance music.
What drew you to jazz?
I would have to say the improvisational aspect of jazz is what drew me into it. I'm all about doing things on the fly and creating a vibe without a plan. Watching and listening to people play jazz taught me how to let go and trust in the vibe and play to the moment.
How does your diverse musical palette inform your approach to house music?
I feel a lot of the music I listen to and respect the most creates change. There is always a sense of improv. For example if you listen to live recordings of Grateful Dead shows, you never really hear a song played the same way. The melodies are present, but the flow and the vibe is different in every performance. Making music in that mind frame is fascinating to me and I do my best to capture that in all the music I make or play.
J.Caprice - "Take My Hand" - Simplistic Music Company
Josh Butler, Boswell - "Be Somebody" - Defected
Alaia & Gallo - "You Make Me Feel Good" - D:Vision
Gt - "Good Feeling (Avon Stringer Remix)" - Astrx Records
Barbara Tucker, DJ Spen - "Think (About It) (Spen & Thommy’s Summer Of Dub Mix)" - Quantize Recordings
Jersey Maestros, Jonathan Holman - "Your Day Is Coming (Earl TuTu & John Khan Remix)" - Quantize Recordings
Block & Crown, Chris Marina - "Risin (Original Mix)" - PornoStar Records (US)
Ben Delay - "No One (Original Mix)" - Deepalma
Anfunk - "Back Again (Original Mix)" - Hot Bit
Chevals - "See You When I Git My Heart Broken (Original Mix)" - HOMAGE
Hazzaro - "I Want U" - Spacedisco Records
Jay Potter, DJ Queen B - "Satisfy (Main Mix)" - Dopewax
DJ Romain, Nedelka, DJ Spen - "I Didn't Know (DJ Spen Jook Joint Vocal)" - unquantize