The 9 to 5 life was never going to suit Joel Corry: his passions have always been too spirited to contain. At times his life story reads like the combination of many different characters. But through all his achievements in many different worlds, his dedication to music has burned the brightest.
UK garage was his first love. Joel’s older brother was a garage DJ and MC in a collective called the Reckless Crew. Friday nights in their family home would be spent huddled round Kiss FM listening to DJ EZ. Once he became old enough to receive pocket money, Joel would get the bus to North London’s Scream Records every weekend and spend every penny on a double-sided UKG 12”. He would then listen to it nonstop until the next purchase.
He got his first pair of turntables – Numark Belt Drives – for Christmas aged 13 and practiced with his growing collection. As garage became grime his tastes evolved alongside the movement, and he also began getting into drum ‘n’ bass. Under 18s nights at the local youth club were his entry point into playing out, by 15 he had set up a mobile disco with a school friend. Neither of them could drive, so they would pay parents, friends, even their parent’s friends, to transport their DJing kit to any gig they could get. By the time of Joel’s 18th birthday, he was well versed in delivering well executed sets to expectant crowds, and soon enough he secured residencies around West London’s Mayfair clubs.
Taking the step into production came next via a BTEC college course. At the time he was swept up in the popularity of Laidback Luke and Afrojack, and began to experiment with making EDM and Melbourne bounce on a cracked version of Logic, before becoming a whizz on Fruity Loops. He followed up his college education with a Music Business degree at Bucks University, which included a self-confidence building year abroad in Miami. But when he finished his degree, a sense of uncertainty crept in. Friends and family expressed concerns about the longevity and stability of a career in DJing and it got into Joel’s head.
He decided to explore something a bit steadier, pushing himself into the world of TV production. A year of graft followed, being the first to arrive and the last to leave on any set he could find work on. Eventually he landed an internship with MTV and climbed the ladder from runner to on-screen TV star. Joel’s interest in fitness also excelled from a hobby to a career. He won titles at bodybuilding shows, released a number 1 personal fitness app, and even appeared on the cover of Muscle Fitness magazine. Around the same time his DJing was taking off, with bookings at clubs up and down the country, European party resorts, and in Australia coming in thick and fast. In 2015 he put out his debut release ‘Back Again’ on Ministry of Sound Australia, and six more singles followed across the next two years.
But despite his successes, over time Joel fell out of love with the scenes he found himself in. A mind-blowing trip to Ibiza, including seeing in his birthday to the sounds of Joy Orbison and Boddika playing We Love at Space, had opened his ears to more underground sounds and his tastes started to evolve. Patrick Topping, MK, Sonny Fodera and Defected became key inspirations as he moved away from the commercial end of the spectrum. Joel realised he wanted to play good music to good crowds across the world more than anything else in the world. He decided to cut all other distractions.
Music became Joel’s solitary focus. “I went into machine mode,” he says, “all I did was eat, sleep and breathe DJing and production.” He improved his skillset by collaborating with songwriters and worked tirelessly on mixes, taking any opportunity to better himself and achieve his goals.
In time, his efforts paid off. Following years of fruitless attempts to audition for a Kiss FM slot, a popular guest mix led to Joel joining the station full time at the close of 2017. He held down the Thursday night 1am slot for two years, impressing with his high-energy sets, before being promoted to the 10pm show. In 2018 he signed a deal with Perfect Havoc and released the hand-raising ‘Good As Gold’ featuring Hayley May, getting his first BBC Radio 1 play from Scott Mills. ‘Fallen’ followed soon after, this time earning Mistajam’s coveted Self-Certified Dance Anthem title.
And then ‘Sorry’ happened. While vibing out to some old skool garage in his studio, Joel got the idea to return to his roots and flip Monsta Boy’s Denzie featuring classic ‘Im Sorry’ with fresh production and a female vocal from Hayley May. Upon release it exploded, becoming rinsed in clubs and on daytime FM radio, getting signed to Atlantic, and on one day last summer breaking the record for the most Shazamed track in a 24 hour period with a staggering 41,000 tags.
He’s now setting his sights on making an album and landing bookings at the world’s biggest festival stages. “I grew up in clubs and still get the same buzz now playing in front of crowds that I did 15 years ago,” he says, “when I get in that zone, all the other things in my life seem to go away.” Joel Corry has devoted his life to dance music, and he’s still got a whole lot more life to give.