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A Potted History of Joy Orbison

If you’ve been to see any of the UK’s best DJs play over the last decade, it’s more than likely you’ve danced to a Joy Orbison record at one point or another. The elusive producer named Peter O’Grady first emerged in the late 2000s, and alongside peers like the Hessle Audio crew he became a flagbearer for a new bass-informed take on 4/4 club music.

O’Grady has been putting out records consistently for 8 years, and in that time his sound took a surprising U-turn: while he started off making music in the vein of garage and house, his productions started borrowing increasingly from techno in a series of collaborative projects – most notably alongside Alex Green, the producer known for his aliases Boddika and Instra:mental.

Before O’Grady brings his raw sound to Room One this Saturday, we picked out some of the key moments that have made him one of the UK’s most forward-thinking producers.

Ellipsis – Joy Orbison [Hinge Finger]

What makes the ultimate summer banger? Whether it was in the killer sample, niggling bass line or luscious piano stabs, O’Grady clearly wanted it all for Ellipsis back in 2012.

O’Grady unearthed the now famed vocal sample from a rare interview with Source Direct in the late 90s, and that gives us some idea of the world he first came from. He brought so much more than this for his first Hinge Finger release though: the bass line lends itself to his signature strand of UK house, another cheeky vocal sample alludes to garage, while those pianos conjure the spirit of 90s rave.

Ellipsis drew from several strings of UK dance music, but its main effect was less nuanced: setting dance floors off throughout the entire summer.

Faint – Boddika, Joy Orbison & Pearson Sound [SunkLo]

When Green and O’Grady started working together in 2012 they seemed drilled on making techno, but Faint was an exception on which you could hear the influence of David Kennedy’s garage background. The percussion thuds as relentlessly as you’d expect, while the ‘I begin to go weak’ refrain persistently drags you under. By the time this dissipates under a shoegazey wall of sound, it’s suffocating to the point of drowning you.

Froth – Boddika & Joy Orbison [SunkLo]

For one of their best collaborations, Froth might be the most mechanical Green and O’Grady have sounded. Kicks and hats chug away in usual SunkLo fashion, while a woman’s vocal slices bubble under the surface as if she was trapped in a thought loop.

There’s some light at the end of the tunnel as her cries become more discernible – it’s still not clear what she’s saying, but her melancholic voice sounds instantly familiar. Then there it is again: a hi-hat appears, giving some weight to the pair’s most accomplished house cut so far.

Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – Tip! – Joy Orbison [Nonplus]

When we think back to our 13th birthday in October 2012, there’s one particular moment of the party that sticks in our memory.

On the Sunday evening towards the final stretch of the 30-hour marathon, sirens rang round Room One as a dubby bass line spilled across the lowest frequencies of our Martin Audio sound system. Confusion struck every face on the dance floor, before a crawling ‘you make me weak…’ vocal sounded from every corner of the room.

This wasn’t the sound system going into overdrive – it was Ben UFO setting the room alight by dropping Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – TIP!, a then unreleased weapon we’d soon discover to be Joy Orbison’s next huge hit.

In Here – Boddika & Joy Orbison [SunkLo]

Whenever Green and O’Grady come together they always bring out the darkness in one another, and that’s pretty much the vibe on In Here: relentless kicks dominate the mix, while screeching echoes signal something typically ominous.

Stripped to its bones this might sound like techno at face value, but that’s before the robotic vocals creep in sporadically over subtle off-key clicks. Arresting and trippy in equal measure, it’s reminiscent of the kind of moody electro curveball you can imagine being pulled out by Marcel Dettmann, or Ricardo Villalobos.

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