Remember the time that Richie Hawtin got hold of your unreleased track and played it on his Ibiza Boiler Room? Me neither, but that's exactly the odd situation that Brazilian-born, Vienna-based DJ and producer Joyce Muniz found herself in after someone popped up on her Facebook page asking about a release date. “The track was already one year old and only four people had it,” she recalls incredulously. “I really was wondering how Richie Hawtin got it!”
Still, got it he had, leaving just the clearance of its Kraftwerk sample from 'It's More Fun to Compute' and the addition of a vocal by ex-Jungle Brother Bam, for the modern day hip-house of 'Back in the Days' to become a hit for Exploited last year. Skream, Maya Jane Coles, Carl Cox and Maceo Plex all added further heavyweight support.
It was just the latest surprise twist in the ongoing musical journey of Muniz, a multi-talented artist prone to side-stepping expectation and popping up in all the right places. Moving to Austria from Sao Paulo aged 12, it was Europe where she began her love affair with electronic music. But it was her roots that proved most valuable when Funk Carioca, the raw, rhythmical, expletive-filled dance music of Brazil's favelas began percolating around the world thanks to cultural magpie Diplo.
“At that time I was doing vocals with the Viennese producer Stereotyp, and through him I got to know Daniel,” explains Muniz on meeting Daniel Haaksman and becoming involved with Man Recordings, his German label responsible for fusing Funk Carioca with a more Euro-centric house and techno edge. “Stereotyp was producing an EP with [Brazilian MC and producer] Edu K, and they asked me to do vocals.”
Released in 2006 as the first part of the label's Funk Mundial series, which would later pair Portuguese-speaking MCs with the likes of Sinden, Crookers and Seiji, the EP's success led to her and Stereotyp recording for Man as KU BO, him at the controls, her on mic duty. “You have the gangs with their topic of drugs and criminality, or you have the flirty sexy stuff,” she tells us when we ask about adopting the style's notorious lyrical content. “My lyrics had their home in the sexy stuff, but were able to get radio-airplay.”
None of this is to underplay the importance of Vienna itself, where Muniz was hooking up with the most influential movers and shakers. In 2008 she provided vocals over the laid-back synth washes of Cusmos 'Garoto', “a couple of years after all the Kruder & Dorfmeister hype,” she adds about the label's celebrated heads. “But, of course, it had the Viennese vibe, which is a trip-hop vibe, too.
When I started to consume electronic music, Vienna had a face so to speak, it had its own sound,” she goes on about the importance of the city's scene in shaping her ambition. “Today this characteristic sound is gone, but you have a lot of different musicians who do their particular sound,” Dorian Concept and Camo & Krooked those she cites as part of Vienna's new breed.
While there was a KU BO album planned, Muniz became more interested in developing herself as a producer, digging through the annals of house for a year and trying to develop her own distinctive take. “I thought, 'When I really change my style into another genre, it has to be unique, Joyce-style'.” What launched this was 2010's 'Party Over Here Party Over There', a moody, minor-key led cut that welcomed her into Berlin's Exploited family.
“I've known Shir Khan [for] more than 10 years,” she reveals on her link to Exploited's label boss, who had previously invited her onto his radio show. “I think we immediately got along very well, as friends and musicians. Within the artists on the label the respect for each other is great too, although everyone does his own sound and style. So yes, it is very nice to be part of this special family!”
An early coup for Exploited was 2011's 'Morning Love', Muniz's collaboration with Louie Austen. An old school Viennese crooner who'd worked alongside the rat pack in Las Vegas, he'd risen to prominence again after the turn of the millennium, alongside the likes of Peaches and Gonzalez, on the crest of electroclash. With his lived-in vocals riding a spacey house groove punctuated by snippets of breakbeats, Austen was so impressed with Muniz that he asked her to produce his next album. “This pushed my ego a lot,” she admits. “Such a special artist, who I respect a lot, asking me to work with him. It was wonderful, although it put a lot of pressure on me.”
This mutual respect was to arise again in the shape of Maya Jane Coles, who helped get Muniz's music into the hands of 20:20 Vision, so far resulting in two EPs, last year's bumpin' 'Soundomatic' and the electro pulse of 'Brightness' a pair of highlights. “Before Maya and me actually met in person we both knew each other's music very well,” explains Muniz, who finally met the UK artist when a mutual friend introduced them in London. “By that time she was releasing on 20:20 Vision herself and made the connection between me and Ralph Lawson. This was all very smooth and cool. I felt honoured that Ralph was interested in releasing music from me too.”
Her next release, which will drop sometime in mid April, is back on Exploited, although we're not yet able to hear it when we catch up. “It is very deep and dreamy,” she describes in lieu of the music, “it has got some winter vibes mixed with spring feelings.” This heady mixing of emotion is what lies at the heart of Muniz's appeal, uncontainable Brazilian enthusiasm filtered through the depths and form of Viennese classicism.
Muniz's mastery of the groove received yet another vote of approval via her latest collaboration, this time with DJ Sneak, who she met at Sonar last year. “I've known Sneak's music since I started collecting vinyl, I love his percussive beats,” she enthuses on the prolific output of the opinionated Chicago-born master and self-appointed protector of real house. “After he sent me his sounds I started to work on them. The tracks already sound dope.” So does this officially make her a house gangster, we ask? “Sneak thinks I have the proper requirements to become a house gangster because of my Latina background,” she replies with a grin. “Better ask him!”
There's also an album in the works, albeit with no firm timeframe yet, which leads us to wonder whether she's going to ever sing again? “I haven't found the proper recipe yet,” she explains, “to have a sound which isn't Brazilian at all mixed together with Brazilian vocals.” As soon as this is nailed, however, she'll be joining the likes of Maya Jane Coles and Kim Ann Foxman (both of whom she's remixed) amongst the ranks of celebrated self-produced house vocalists.
Until then, she's on a mission to spread her wings even further label-wise. Currently sitting on a batch of unreleased tracks, this time around she shouldn't need any help from Hawtin.
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