Boiler Room: Joe Kay, Streaming from Isolation, Apr 10, 2020 (DJ Mix)

Boiler Room: Joe Kay, Streaming from Isolation, Apr 10, 2020 (DJ Mix)

When Apple Music Radio host and Soulection co-founder Joe Kay cued up his opening track for Boiler Room’s Streaming From Isolation series in April 2020, he knew he had to pace himself: He was embarking upon one of his legendary four-hour sets. But this one was different. With the novel coronavirus shutting down clubs, DJs and promoters were scrambling for stopgap solutions, and Kay had traded Boiler Room’s studios for his own home. “Everyone was trying to figure it out, trial and error,” the Los Angeles DJ tells Boiler Room Radio. “That Boiler Room experience was very raw and rugged,” he recalls, and plagued with technical issues that kept Kay and Boiler Room’s tech team on their toes. “But part of being a DJ is you can’t let those things get in the way.” Across a four-hour session delivered “straight from the heart”, Kay leaves virtually no stone unturned. Kicking off with an Austin Marc edit of Sister Nancy’s 1982 classic “Bam Bam”, he veers into eye-opening soul jazz and then just keeps going. Though his set list is heavy on boom-bap, soulful hip-hop and woozy beat music—artists like Slum Village, J Dilla, IAMNOBODI, Knxwledge and Flying Lotus—he also pulls out curveballs like Paul Mond’s Panjabi MC-flipping “Panjabi Bounce” and Sango’s Brazilian-inspired “Kalimba Funk”, plus mash-ups and rare edits of Rihanna, Aaliyah and Frank Ocean. Towards the end, he really lets loose, dropping globe-trotting alt rock from Khruangbin, chillwave from Toro y Moi and even an unexpected shout-out to one of his mom’s favourite songs: Rage Against the Machine’s “Revolver”. “That’s the significance of the four-hour set,” says Kay. “I’ve gotten to a level with it, such a comfort zone mentally, I just zone out and I play whatever I want.” Maybe there’s no right way to fit Rage into a soulful DJ set, he acknowledges, but it’s a part of his upbringing, part of the story he’s trying to tell. “Just doing you and being carefree—that’s what the four-hour sets represent,” he says. “I’m very blessed I can go up there and play anything, and people trust me with the music. That’s the goal of every DJ, just going up there and having complete freedom.”

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