As Vancouver-based DJ & Production Duo Average Gypsy prepare to launch their first album in the last days of 2019, accompanied by a massive release party at legendary VanCity nightspot MIA, I sat down with them to discuss how they got to be where they are now, their growing success, the album, and the release event.
While it may be somewhat rare to find an act made up of both a male & female member, it is even rarer for them to be a longstanding couple, as are the two halves of Average Gypsy, Joshua Allen & Dani Wilson. Their concept album “Spiritual Gangstas” has been 3 years in the works, and each track was written as a tribute to key moments in their journey together.
Being a veteran of almost 20 years to the DJ scene, Josh started out in the wax days as the solo act Average Citizen, and as half of DJ duo Chemical DJ’s with Vancouver based Stimulant J. Josh later evolved into the production trio Decibel Empire with Ryan Schmautz and his brother Lucas Allen, who is also a successful producer and artist as the solo DNB producer Brukout and one half of Gold Bullets. As their musical styles developed, Josh’s taste shifted from the trap music of Decibel Empire and towards house music, specifically, Bass House.
On the other side of the coin, Dani had come from a musically inclined family, having a father that played almost every instrument under the sun, and growing up playing the saxophone herself. She was heavily involved in the local Vancouver Electronic Music Scene but didn’t try her hand at DJing until after fatefully meeting Josh at Coachella in 2012.
“It was strange, we had a lot of the same friends and ran with the same people but didn’t meet in person until randomly in the desert one night, hundreds of miles from home. We instantly had a connection, and the relationship quickly grew from there. I had always wanted to DJ, but pursuing my Masters in Sport Psychology, I felt like I never had time, but Josh just said, ‘what do you mean you don’t have time for this life? This is everything, and you have to do it,’ and he kind of just manifested everything on the spot.”
After immediately assigning her the DJ Alias Neon Gypsy and discussing visions of grandeur such as releasing live butterflies at her shows (which is still on their bucket list), Josh taught Dani the basics, and she learned rapidly and, having quite the track selection, became a hit in the local scene. As things progressed and the two continued to practice and play together so often, they eventually melded into their duo, which is a combination of Average Citizen & Neon Gypsy: Average Gypsy.
Average Gypsy has now been around for 5 years and has had the opportunity to share their music at numerous shows throughout Western Canada & North America, including countless club nights, such prestigious festivals as Astral Harvest, Wicked Woods, Electric Love, Motion Notion, One Love in California, Genius Loci in Mexico, as well as international shows in England, Germany, Mexico, Taiwan, Indonesia, Spain & the US.
When asked about their international experiences, Josh remarks “It’s incredible to just get on a plane, go to another part of the world, share your art and see people dance. Getting a great response from the crowd, it’s just such a blessing.”
After the first couple of years performing together, venturing into production was a natural progression for the duo, with Josh having dabbled in production previously with Decibel Empire, and the two have a wealth of friends involved in the production. They had a good set of teachers, including Epitomic, Lola Phyne, Waspy and Lucas David Morgan, as well as online courses.
Including the forthcoming album, Average Gypsy has 24 track releases under their belt, with releases on labels such as San Francisco’s Mal Label, Tokyo’s Helitricity, and almost all other tracks out on Vancouver’s Sheppard Records. Their track “Get Some Money” reached #1 in the Beatport Basshouse Release Charts and sat in the Top 10 for nearly 6 weeks, it surpassed 100,000 plays on Spotify, was played out live at Coachella, and featured on Diplo‘s Radio Show on Sirius XM.
The two of them were driving to a club show in Revelstoke and just happened to be listening to the broadcast when they heard their track, just as they were passing the site of a Musical Festival they had played a couple of years before in Kamloops. Dani didn’t quite process it at first.
“I heard the track start playing, and thought to myself ‘oh that’s funny someone has the same chord progression as us’, and then I was like ‘Oh hey these guys sampled G-Eazy too…’ It was like my brain just wouldn’t register they were playing our track. We were so excited, I almost drove off the road.”
Other successful tracks include their #2 Song which is a remix of Travis Scott‘s “Sicko Mode,” and a Bass House remix/cover of Madonna‘s “Like a Prayer” which features Josh’s 21-year old daughter Silver singing the main chorus. Silver got to perform the song live at Shambhala Music Festival 2019, during Z-Bit’s set that opened up The Pagoda Stage for the weekend.
Their forthcoming album “Spiritual Gangstas” is the culmination of everything they’ve learned so far. “We both grew up listening to hip-hop and a lot of concept albums,” explains Dani. “So, we wanted to express our story in a concept album. Everybody told us not to do an album, just release singles and EP’s, but it’s something we both really wanted to do. We put it all together in a weekend at Harrison Hot Springs. We just started taking notes, defined seven big moments in both our lives/relationship and music career, and before we knew it, we had about ten pages. Everything from what we were going through, what kind of music we were listening to at the time, reference tracks, the overall sound of the track, lyrics, BPM and key. By the end of the weekend, we had the whole album conceptualized.”
After working on the basics, they were ready to take the next step, and wanting no distractions, they hopped the pond over to London where they had rented out studio space to bring the album into reality. For 8 days straight, they spent about 10 hours per day in the studio, basically just stopping to eat and sleep and get back at it. When they returned to Canada, they still had some work to do with getting the vocals brought on and mastering.
The tracklisting for the album is as follows: Good Gal Queen Bad Mon Ting, Neon Gypsy, Panda Bunny, True Sick Beauty, Purgatory, Hippy Flip & Back from the Dead.
“In today’s information age, everybody wants everything right now, at their finger-tips. Music has a tendency to ‘get old’ faster. We were worried if we released the whole album at once people might not listen to the entire thing, so we’ve been sort of slow dripping it, putting out one track per month on Sheppard Records. The final track releases on December 27th, the same day as the album release party.
I also just need to give a big shout out to Jamie Sheppard aka SHEPS, for him to allow us the freedom to release the tracks individually on his label and then re-release the entire album independently afterwards truly speaks to how much he cares about his artists.”
So what’s next for Average Gypsy? The day after the release party they head to Ecuador for Genius Loci New Years at Wildchild Village, a tropical event featuring 7-days of DJs (including Case of the Monday’s and Henry Pope), beach parties, jungle parties, yoga, surfing and workshops. Furthermore, in 2020 they will be releasing their first high-production music video for “Get Some Money,” putting out a remix/cover of Sweet Dreams, once again featuring Josh’s Daughter Silver on vocals, they have an upcoming release on The Funk Hunters‘ Westwood-X Label, a collab with Coka Cobra, and some other things on the go that they can’t quite discuss on the record yet. On top of all that, they will be busy planning their annual festival, Rise & Shine FamJam Fundraiser, a festival that donates 100% of proceeds to charity.
Being a fan of Average Gypsy right since the beginning, I’m excited to see how much they are progressing and look forward to what the new decade will have in store for them. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yourselves, peep their socials below!
*Featured Image Via Lucas David Morgan*