Joel Corry is here to spread good vibrations from the UK to the rest of the world. The North London native got his start DJing as a teenager, and now emerges as one of the hottest, most sought-after artists in the dance music realm.
Joel has had several major breakthroughs in the last few years, exploding onto the scene with his 2019 summer smash “Sorry,” a re-work of Monsta Boy’s UKG classic of the same name. The song spent 10 weeks in the UK Top 10, peaking at #6, something Joel had been dreaming about and working towards for years and years. Since then, he released UK Top 10 single “Lonely” in early 2020, US RIAA Gold-certified “Head & Heart” featuring MNEK in July 2020, and most recently “BED,” his collaboration with David Guetta and RAYE.
Joel’s knack for pairing attention-grabbing vocals with his signature production is unmatched, and his songs are equipped with lyrics that the masses all around the world can relate to. Now, he unleashes the official music video for “BED” alongside David Guetta and RAYE, which already has over 4.6 million views on YouTube in less than a month.
Flaunt caught up with Joel Corry via Zoom to discuss his roots in the UK, biggest influences, how he learned to DJ and produce, the impact of “Head & Heart,” the creation of “BED,” shooting the visual, workout regime, goals, and more!
What was a young Joel Corry like growing up in North London?
When I grew up, apart from playing football at school, my hobby was DJing. I started DJing when I was 13 and during my teenage years, it was always my passion. I was into gym stuff as well. I put all my decks in my bedroom and I was either in the gym, making music or playing football. When I got to my late teens, I started DJing in clubs—I became a resident club DJ. That’s when I really started thinking “This is what I want to do.”
I got into music production, because I realized if I wanted to make that break, I had to release my own music. It wasn’t just about playing other people’s records. I went to uni, worked some other jobs. I worked at MTV for a while, did some fun stuff there. Cool stuff with my fitness. Eventually, I ended up doing what I wanted to do after many years of trying different things. [laughs]
Who were you coming up listening to?
That’s a good question. My teenage years, when I first started DJing, there’s a genre of music in the UK called Garage music that I was really listening to. They do have a little bit in the US but at the time, it was the era of Garage music in the UK. The culture was about DJing as well: getting all the vinyls on white label and going to those raves or events with MCs and lots of different DJs playing. I grew up during that scene, which was really good, it definitely was a big influence on how I got started really. A lot of my early inspirations were big Garage DJs, like DJ EZ. My taste of music developed when I got into my sort of late teens and I went to Ibiza, an island off Spain.
Oh yeah! Ibiza, everyone parties over there.
Honestly for dance music, it’s the best place you could go to in the world. The biggest DJs in the world play there. I remember going there in my early 20’s on my first trip, being totally blown away by my experience there and the DJs I saw. Those early trips at Ibiza definitely influenced me to want to go down this route. I went down and my love for house music and dance music really grew.
You started DJing at age 13, how did you teach yourself?
I got my first pair of turntables for Christmas when I was 13. My older brother had decks and I wanted to be cool like him. It was quite a cool thing then to be a DJ. As soon as I got them, it became a massive hobby of mine. As a young boy, getting into that garage scene was really exciting and fun. Taking weekly trips to the record store and seeing all the other DJs down there and mingling a little bit, thinking I was the boy. [laughs] I really liked it, it became my thing. At school, I was known as Joel the DJ. I was DJing at people’s birthday parties, the school proms. It was my thing.
When did that turn into producing?
I finished secondary school, what’s called high school in America, then went to college at 19 and did a music production course. That was my first experience in music production. There’s a studio at the college so it wasn’t just producing, I was in a studio environment, recording vocals, all that. It opened my eyes to everything. At home, I’d be producing at nighttime. I’d be DJing and producing in my bedroom for fun, as a hobby. I started taking it more seriously in my early 20’s. To take it to that next step, be like my idols and reach that next level, I had to get my music out there. It wasn’t about playing other people’s songs, it needed to be my name on those tracks.
“Head & Heart” is at over 169 million views on YouTube, did you anticipate the song would blow up the way it did?
I knew this record was a special record. I never would’ve predicted it was going to be: #1 in the UK six weeks straight. It became this global hit record. I would never ever predict I was gonna have a #1 single, [laughs] but I did know this song was very special. It came out last July, when the world wasn’t in a great place with the pandemic. Things were looking a bit doom and gloom. This song feels so positive, it’s got such a positive vibe about it. People connected with it a lot because maybe they were in a bit of a down place. I was getting a lot of messages saying that “Head & Heart” played on the radio and it teared them up instantly, made them feel good. The timing of the record was important. I’m so happy people have a lot of good memories with this record. Last summer, I know a lot of people were listening to it in the UK. Although we weren’t able to be out partying and dancing together, this record brought people a lot of good vibes when they needed it.
New single with David Guetta and RAYE called “BED”, how are you feeling?
Honestly, I’m on top of the world right now. Obviously following up from “Head & Heart” was a bit of pressure because it was such a big record, but I always believed that “BED” was the right record to follow up with. I had a few different records I’d been working on, but this one for me was the one. I knew instantly that hook had something really special about it and I’m so happy with the response. I hope people have a lot of fun with this record. It’s great to be in 2021 now with this track out and everyone loving it!
How did this collab come about?
Last summer, I was in a studio session playing some demos, and heard RAYE’s, the vocalist on “BED.” I played about 10 of them, one of them was the “BED” idea. It was just a chorus with some chords behind it. As soon as I heard it, I was attracted to the lyrics straightaway. They were fun and interesting, a bit of cheekiness about them which I liked. The melody and the hook got me, they were so catchy. That evening, I slid into RAYE’s DM’s on Instagram like “yo RAYE, I heard this sick ‘BED’ idea.” I’ve got a vision for this record, immediately I had it ready. I said “please, can I get you in the studio because I need to work on this? I know it could be massive.” She came back to me and said “yeah, I’d love to work on this with you. Oh I wrote this idea with David Guetta, we write a lot together.”David Guetta? I can’t just slide into his DMs.” [laughs] I’m gonna have to go about this a bit more professionally.
A lot of people slide into people’s DMs and that’s how it happens, it’s crazy.
I sent him a nice email. He knew who I was, because he was a fan of “Head & Heart.” He ended up doing a remix of “Head & Heart” under his Jack Black alias, which is his underground sound. So I wrote him and he said “Definitely, let’s go!” A week later, I was in the studio with RAYE working on “BED”. I did my production, developed the rest of the song, writing the rest of the track. That was last June, this record came out at the end of February. That shows you how long the process was. A lot of hard work went into this, a lot of love and a lot of my time. But it’s always worth it in the end. I’m happy it’s out now, it feels great.
Are you a perfectionist? You want to get it absolutely right?
Yeah, that side of me is a gift and a curse. I get a bit obsessed with perfecting things. I literally can’t sleep at night because I’ll be overthinking about something and constantly going back and changing stuff. I’m glad I’ve got this though because it always drives me to make sure that the end product is in my mind, 100% correct. I can’t put anything out unless I come to that conclusion. Even if it drives me absolutely crazy, I won’t stop until I know it’s ready.
What was the best memory from the video shoot?
It’s crazy! It’s mad, my favorite video I’ve ever shot. I worked with the same director called Elliot Simpson, who directed the video for “Head & Heart” and the video for my single “Lonely.” It’s the third time I’ve worked with him. I love working with him because he gets me, I like to have a really good creative input in the videos. Music videos are very important to me, they’re an extension of the song. I don’t want to put a music video out that’s got no substance to it. I like my music videos to mean something and be quite entertaining to watch. Elliot gets me and he shares the passion.
My music videos always have a little message in them. With this one, we’re poking fun of dating in the future. Online dating has become so advanced in the video that you can order your perfect partner from a laboratory to be delivered to you. As the music video unfolds, you realize that even though something might look perfect on the outside, it’s really the human connection that matters in life. That’s what’s missing. These robots are delivered, but they don’t have anything inside. There’s no human connection. At the end, there’s a nice little twist where the real humans end up together. [laughs] It’s a really fun video.
There’s a scene where I’m coming down this travelator thing, something you see in an airport when the bags arrive. It’s like Joel bots being manufactured down this carousel. That was a pretty cool scene to film, because I had to sit there almost like a suitcase coming out the carousel. [laughs]
What’s your workout regimen like?
Fitness is a massive part of my life. There’s times in my life when I took it very seriously. In my early 20’s, I was doing competitions. When I was competing and preparing for those competitions, that was quite serious. I’d be eating a meal plan around a day, staying in a sort of a calorie deficit and tracking all my food and training twice a day. Cardio in the morning, and then weight training in the afternoon. Those preparations for those competitions were like four months long, so it was quite rigorous.
Now, my #1 thing is my music, my DJing. I make sure I still do my training every morning though. It’s more of a mental benefit now. Before it was very much a physical thing, I was preparing for the competitions. Now, it helps me keep ticking. It helps me keep my mind clear, especially when I’m going in the studio. If I’ve got my workout in the morning and I hit the studio in the afternoon, I feel like me. I feel much more alive within. At the moment the gyms are closed in the UK, so I’ve got some home gym equipment. I’ve got to get my cardio in so I’ve got a Stairmaster in my bungalow [laughs]. I’ve got a little home gym with some dumbbells. Still get my workout in every day, but I’m looking forward to getting back into my gym properly.
How did it feel to see “BED” on LA’s Beverly Center?
It’s mad, my family actually lives in Los Angeles, so I visit normally 2 or 3 times a year but I haven’t been able to this last year because of the travel issues. As soon as I found out that was happening, I text my auntie straightaway. She drove down there and got a picture of it. She was like “Wow, this is crazy!” She couldn’t believe she could see me on an actual billboard, in Los Angeles where she lives. That was a very cool moment.
Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Definitely, I always have goals. Always working towards something. My dream is to play at all the big stages of the festivals around the world. DJing is my #1 love in life, and performing in front of the crowd is what I love the most. I’ve been doing it since I was 16 years old. Especially after taking a year out, I want to play on some of the biggest stages I’ve always dreamt about. The success of my music will hopefully take me there one day, so I’ll keep working hard.