February 02, 2016
Interview with a polymath. How New York artist Joey Danger is changing the game.
Joey Danger is truly one of a kind. He is the definition of a one man show and the blueprint for a modern artist in the 21st century. From his look to his sound, his entire aesthetic is his own. His music, videos, graphics, photography, visual effects, and website are all entirely created by him. Even his record label Industrialust was co-founded and built by him as well. With almost 4 million you-tube views and buzz about him circulating throughout New York, he has proven he is an artist to watch this year.
We got to listen to an early cut of his new EP ‘Lust and Vulgarity’ which is set for release this summer and the tone was much different from his previous music. His new sound is more urban and electronic this time around. It’s dark, dirty and mysterious, yet clean, poppy and well produced. Behind his catchy vocal medleys are captivating lyrics that tell stories of a troubled past, sex, greed, and self indulgence with subtle depth. Buried behind trap beats are remenents of alternative and knods to his early musical influences like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails.
To say this has been a long journey for Joey would be an understatement. After playing in a slew of bands from age 12, being homless, and overcoming a battle with drugs at an early age, Joey Danger made his mark as a solo artist almost a decade ago with his first single and music video “8 Bit Thunderbolt” which he released on youtube in December 2006. The video was shot and recorded by him entirely in his bedroom. It featured him flying through a city, fighting robots and shooting electricity out of his guitar. Despite its humble production, the the final product was impressive enough to gain the attention of industry professionals like TV/music production manager Mike Morin, and many underground musicians who helped Joey Danger launch a career as a freelance multi-media artist. Shorty after, Joey released his 1st studio EP ‘Fighting for Dynamics” in 2006, followed by “Alive” in 2010, and “Yours truly” in 2012 as half member to the EDM duo ‘God Complx’ a collaborative music project with alternative singer and model Marissa Duval. Their music video “Wicked games” was popular among underground EDM fans but it wasnt until summer 2015 when Joey created a hilarious parody video called “Batman & Shia Labeouf v Superman : Dawn of do it” that he really got noticed. The video went viral with over 4 million views, was praised for it’s clever visual effects editing, and expanded his fan base almost over night.
April 20th Joey Danger released a new music video for his first single”Stars” This visual effects heavy video, which he shot, directed, and created entirely himself is remarkable when you consider it was made by one person. The video’s mix of trippy visuals, retro nostalgia, and sexual content is sure to get everyone talking.
We spoke with the man himself and here’s what he had to say…
Where are you from?
I am orginaly from Cocoa, Florida. Grew up in Brevard County.
What would you call yourself? A musican or a director?
I really dont think of myself as a musican or director, I just think of myself as an artist. To me, music, video, graphics, photography, and visual effects, are all a part of the same creative sphere. I can’t imagine being stuck creating in just one section of it. I’ve never been someone who felt comfortable relying on other people to realize my vision so doing everything myself just makes sense to me. I feel passionate about all of it.
Have you always known what you wanted to do?
I always knew I wanted to be an artist of some kind. I was always drawing. My father played guitar for Arthur Conley, so I used to hear stories as a kid about him touring. I would listen to his records and dream about making my own someday. I remember being 5 years old with my tape recorder. I was always recording my self singing random made up songs and stealing my moms camcorder to make superhero movies with my brothers. I consider myself very lucky that I get to do all of those things professionally now as an adult.
Was the decision to make the move to NYC a hard one?
No. The decision, not at all. Anyone who grew up with me can tell you I have always wanted to live in NYC. Its been a long time dream of mine. The move however was very hard. I struggled for quite a while and in a lot of ways had to start from scratch and re-establish myself professionally all over again. It was the best thing that ever happened to me though and made me a much better artist.
What doubts did you have?
I guess my biggest doubt or fear was that I would fail or embarrass myself. The whole “big fish in a small pond” thing.
Did it ultimately end up being a good decision?
Yeah, moving to NYC has truly been the greatest decision I have ever made and the best thing I could have done for myself. Making it here has also reassured me about my abilities and given me the confidence to push my self further than ever before. My only regret is that I didn’t come here sooner. I am finally in the place I always wanted to be, doing what I always wanted to do. It makes all the hard work and sacrifice worth every moment.
Was this your first job, or did you have any jobs beforehand?
Not my first job. I have had like 60+ jobs [laughs] most of which only lasted about 1-2 months tops, because I hated them and only saw them as a way to get by until I got my career off the ground.
What kind of projects have you been involved in?
I have produced over a dozen music albums and singles for various artists and 3 of my own. Two of which have received national radio air play. I have directed 4 music videos, 2 cartoons, 4 commercials and 2 short films I’m really excited about. I’ve also had my work featured in fashion magazines, done commercial photography, modeling, and created hundreds of graphics, logos, and websites for businesses. Oh yeah, and there’s that Batman & Shia Lauboufe video. [laughs]
Tell me about Your new music video “Stars”.
It’s probalby the most personaly gratifying thing I’ve ever created. It’s 100% me. It’s the inside of my head. I worked on the video for almost 13 months and I consider it my favorite thing I’ve ever made.
13 months is a long time.
Yeah you’re telling me. [laughs] I worked on it in my free time so it took a while. It’s been almost 10 years since my last Joey Danger music video “8bit Thunderbolt“. At the time when that video came out, youtube was relatively new and there were not a lot of videos like that out yet, so it felt like what I was doing was a big deal. With “Stars” I felt a lot of personal pressure to do something epic like that again. Especially after the attention I got from the Batman and Shia v Superman video going viral. I knew whatever I put out next needed to be good, or at least something I believed in enough to stand behind… even if it failed.
So this is the new “8bit Thunderbolt”?
To me it is. The whole time I was making this video, I felt like it was 8 Bit Thunderbolt all over again. I was back in that place mentally where I was trying new things and felt like I had a lot to prove. It was that important and challenging to to me. I put all I’ve got into this video and I’m using everything I’ve learned over the years to express myself in new ways, push myself visually, make my mark, and hopefully pave the way for a new breed of independent artists in the process.
What other projects are you working on currently?
I am finishing up visual effects on a futuristic fashion film I shot for IRK Magazine starring Emanuela De Paula. It’s a collaboration I did with fashion photographer Morgan Miller and French music producer Levi, who wrote the musical score. It will be out in May and I’m really excited about it. Then, in June I start post production on another fashion film I shot for Var Margazine called ‘Neon’, which is another collaboration with Morgan Miller as well. After that wraps, I am going to relase my new album ‘Lust & Vulgarity’ at the end of summer and start playing shows.
Did you go to school for any of this?
No, I didn’t even finish high school [laughs]
Do you feel like not going to college has hindered you?
Not at all. I have worked in Times Square as creative director to one of the biggest design agencies in New York and I have never took a single design class in my life. That’s what Google and YouTube are for. Fortunately, I am in a field where what you do and the quality of your work is all that matters. People judge you on your portfolio, not what school you went to or degree you have. I have always believed that if you are good enough at something and make yourself valuable enough you can achieve anything. That’s why I dropped out of school to become a rock star. [laughs]
What is your ultimate goal?
To keep doing what I love on a bigger scale and get better at it. I want to grow my fanbase, grow my label Industrialust, tour, and eventally direct a Sci-fi film I have been writing and developing for the last few years. I think that is what I am most excited about. I’m not trying to be the next Micheal Jackson, I’d rather be the next David Lynch.
The making of “8bit Thunderbolt” – note by Josie Alexandria
Though Joey did not talk about it in the interview, I felt like it was important to add a story he told me about making his first music video, “8Bit Thunderbolt”. At the time, Joey knew nothing about computer animation, so he purchased a book, which he read, and got straight to work. Joey then made his entire bedroom green to simulate a green screen. Using a digital camera that was only capable of shooting 90 seconds at a time, he shot himself playing every instrument he played to produce the song, giving the effect in the video that he is every man in the band, which isn’t just for show- he plays all of his own instruments, sings, edits, and produces his own music by himself. For the scenes when Joey is flying, he propped himself up on a garbage can, then later, using his newfound digital imagery skills, edited it into the popular YouTube video it is today. New videos out like GodComplx’s “Wicked Games”, Niki Ski’s “Louder”, several commercials, cartoons, and now “Stars” really showcase how far he has actually come.
Story by: Renee Smith
Interview by: Josie Alexandria