Photography: York Tillyer
“Welcome to the family,” said Peter Gabriel, when brothers Farook and Haroon Shamsher – collectively known as Joi – shook hands on a deal with Real World Records towards the end of the 1990’s.
By the time Joi signed to the label they were already at the vanguard of the Asian Underground; a clubland movement that came out of Talvin Singh’s weekly nights at the Blue Note, and the monthlies by the Outcaste label. The Blue Note was a magnet for such young British Asian musicians and DJs as Joi, Asian Dub Foundation, Cornershop, Fun-da-mental and Nitin Sawhney, all of who went on to greatness.
“Real World first saw us playing at the Blue Note,” says Farook Shamsher of the now legendary venue in east London’s Hoxton Square. “We used to get a very cool, very mixed crowd. We’d pin our mother’s saris on the walls and get our incense going, and then we’d let our records speak for us. Wherever we played – London, Britain, Europe – we rocked it. We made music that changed minds.”
The band went on to record three gloriously inventive albums for Real World Records: 1999’s ‘One and One is One’, 2000’s ‘We Are Three’ and 2007’s ‘Without Zero’. But these were more than just records – Joi were a way of thinking. A philosophy.
Joi Sound System, released this week, is a celebration of that philosophy and the music that it created. A 2CD set culled from the three Real World albums, plus three bonus tracks, including ‘A Desert Storm’, the track that first brought the band to wider recognition.
Read more about Joi Sound System.
Real World | Amazon | iTunes | Google Play