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Beyond the Booth is a feature dedicated to the hidden side of artists that exists outside electronic music— a side rarely discussed with those outside their immediate circle. We venture “beyond the booth,” so to speak, and dive into their deepest passions that tie into their unique personalities. After some self-introspection, each participant then returns to the booth, providing an exclusive mix for the Dancing Astronaut audience.
Joyce Muniz is a rare talent in today’s house realms. Equipped with a keen ear for sound design and adoration for quirkier, off-kilter sounds, she’s carved out a niche entirely her own that has led to collaborating with an array of top artists like Maya Jane Coles, Jungle Brothers member Bam, and more. As a DJ and live act, she’s unpredictable in the best of ways, leveraging decades of knowledge and studying into each of her sets and pulling out a variety of hidden gems that somehow fit perfectly together.
It’s this musical intelligence that has also brought Joyce attention outside the electronic circle. Electro pop icon Little Boots in particular took a liking to Joyce’s work after the pair met and connected in LA. Two collaborations followed, the most recent of which is the loungey, yet irresistible “Shadows.” Their chemistry was palpable; thus, they’re now returning nearly a year later for a new track “Strange Girl.” This new collaboration is more ardent than their first and even a bit mysterious, with Little Boots’ whispy vocals settling nicely into a bed of bassline-driven deep house with bursts of white noise and laser-like synths. The track, part of an EP of the same name, comes out on February 25 and can be ordered here.
What lies beyond Joyce’s musicality, though? It turns out she can cook up far more than a tasty beat and is in fact a culinary mistress as well. An accomplished amateur chef, Muniz dives full-on into the world of cuisine in her spare time and has taken numerous classes to better her craft. We explore this side passion of hers in this Beyond The Booth edition, while she serves up a pleasant mix to supplement—both tracks from the EP make it in as well.
Let’s start off with the most pressing question: describe the cooking courses you’ve taken so far, and why you chose these ones!
I grew up in Vienna where they have a very strong food and beverage culture. My mum run a restaurant and I spent a lot of time helping her out in the kitchen, that’s why I decided to study hotel management at school where cooking was one of the important classes. I also liked the fact that the courses were not only learning the classics, but we got sent out to local hotels and restaurants to practice our skills and learn hands-on. I started the course when I was just 15! Austria has a very different school system than other countries where you have the choice to study at the school but can combine with courses which act almost as a job. It was a very intense course, where I spent 9-11 hours a day studying, even on the weekends.
Has cooking always been a major part of your life, or is it a recent interest? What are some fond memories you’ve had of cooking while growing up?
Yes, definitely a lot of memories from time with my mum. She always said “If you like to eat, you have to be able to cook your own food”. My first dish I made was when I was about 7 years old, it was only smashed eggs – but I was very proud of it. My whole family love to cook, aunties, my grandma and even the men in our household. My Dad’s mum is Italian and one of the best memories I have was on Sundays for lunch – everybody is in the kitchen making these amazing Italian dishes – pasta, fish, meat and more. My grandma had a huge table in the kitchen which we all sat around and completely covered it with all the best Italian food.
What are some dishes you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Oh there are a few! My friends love to come over when I do my Mexican nights. My Fajitas are one of the coolest things. I like to do them with fish cooked in salt. You cover the whole fish in coarse salt and cook it for 30 mins, and it gives it the most amazing flavour. I like to use Branzino or Sea Bass. Serve this up with some potatoes, spinach and veggies – its just so amazing and so easy!
Have you discovered any unexpected, but interesting flavor/ingredient combinations that you love since starting your cooking journey? If so, describe!
I love Austrian pumpkin oil! You have to try it with vanilla ice cream! Pumpkin oil is amazing, it has a very strong taste and is more like an additional ingredient you should always use to cook with. You can put some drops with eggs, soup and it’s also great for salads. Its super healthy and really tasty!
Which cuisine (like Japanese, French, Italian, Argentinian) is your favourite to cook and why? And which cuisines are you interested in learning more about?
To be honest, I am a foodie and I love all types of cuisines. I am very thankful to be able to travel with my work and have had the chance to try all kinds of food from every part of the world. I think every country has something special to offer, which you can’t get elsewhere, that’s what makes that particular thing special. I have a huge passion for anything from a Peruvian kitchen, I love to fusion they have between Latin and Asian flavours.
Biggest tip for beginning chefs? Any lessons you’ve learned “the hard way” in the kitchen?
My first cooking professor was an incredible person, and she always said, “You have to cook with the 3 H’s”. That means Hand, Hirn (It means “brain” in German!) and the Heart. Yes she was right, and of course everybody can be a cook, like everyone can be a DJ, but the basics are important and I learned to treat the ingredients with love. Then you get the best results.
Would you ever consider cooking as a career when you retire from music?
I always thought about that actually, but being a cook is a VERY hard and demanding job. I have been developing some of my own recipes in the last few years, but I don’t think I would cook myself as a profession. I have the dream to open my own restaurant one day. So who knows!
On that note, have you ever thought about opening your own restaurant? If you were to open a restaurant, what would be the signature dishes it serves?
Well yes, as I just said, it would be a dream for me to have my own restaurant. For me, the most important parts are the products, depending on the county of course – but I always try to use local produce. So, if I did have a restaurant, I am not really sure which direction I would take it, but maybe more a focus on a fusion of different tastes. This is another reason why I love cooking, the options are endless and you can always discover something new, no matter how long you have been doing it.
You had some medical issues which you openly have talked about recently. Did you look into cooking holistically to help with your recovery and well-being?
I was always very picky when it comes to good, and one of the reasons why I had a faster recovery that normal was because of my food choices. I believe anyway. I have a food plan, which I have had for a long time – sounds weird but it’s the truth. It’s very important to find a balance and my cousin is a nutritionist who helped me a lot with what I should be eating. You have to find out what suits you, what’s good for your body and brain as well as being able to stick to something which is sustainable.
Similarly, have you studied gut bacteria and do you consciously try to cook meals that are good for your biome? What are some tips you might have in this regard?
Actually, after my surgery I started to have some serious issues with wheat products. Wheat is not healthy anyways, so I have now eliminated it from my diet since then. It’s really hard when you are on the road to find things that do not have wheat – pasta, pizza and sandwiches – the things you can easily find on the road all have wheat, but I am happy that a lot more places now are allergy aware and have started to offer new options. However, as much as you try to avoid it, sometimes I have something with wheat, and I don’t feel great for a few days, so it’s just not worth it.
While learning to cook, have you noticed any parallels between cooking and music production?
Everyone can cook, and everyone can be a DJ. With the basics you can become a good cook, and the same transcends when you are a DJ. However, I spent hours and hours in my mum’s basement learning how to mix a record properly, you need to know the exact time to drop the right record and make it seamless. The same with cooking, you need to know what comes first, what you add at certain stages of the process to get the best end results. SO yeah, I feel it’s very much connected in so many ways.
Alright, let’s switch gears to music. You have quite a big release due on the 25th Feb with Little Boots of 00’s electropop fame. Your two worlds are quite different; how did your paths end up crossing, and what about you two leads to good chemistry in the studio?
Victoria and I never worked together in a studio, but we spend time together when I was in LA and we just had such a connection. The first and second collaborations were ideas that I produced in my studio and I sent them over to her. I am so happy that she felt the same about the tracks, even on the other side of the world. She just got it and did the vocals which turned out amazing! That’s the good thing about music, there are no limits or borders.
How did the writing process go for “Strange Girl,” such as starting point, collaboration process, and instruments/plugins used in its creation? Also, what inspired it?
Musically, my big inspiration for this track was Trentmoller ‘Moan’. I love this tune, it’s so timeless. When I told Victoria about it, she fell in love with its vibe straight away. I made the track and called it ‘Strange Girl’ because I had a crush on a girl in Berlin, during my lunch we had together in LA, I told her about the love story and she wrote the lyrics from that. It’s a mixture between reality and fiction.
What has been exciting you most musically as of late, and how have you translated that into your own work?
My radio show on Rinse FM and on Austria’s Radio FM4 have been a big deal for me, and also inspiring, as I have to download a lot of promos every week to keep the beats fresh. Researching for new tracks constantly means you discover so many new artists, it’s awesome. I have discovered loads of new tracks from rand new and undiscovered talents, as well as small labels. There really are so so so many talented people out there, it’s so inspiring.
Finally, what else is coming in the Joyce Muniz pipeline?
During my recovery last year, I spend a lot of time in the studio, so this year has been crazy already. I have started to release a ton of projects which were done in that time. I had my first release on Desert Hearts Records in January, which was a collab with Namito, that was such a sick release. I also love playing their festival – if you haven’t had the chance to go – GO this year!
I also did a remix for Hannah Holland – that was a lot of fun and have another remix for Anabel Englund later this spring. I have just signed another Gigolo EP with DJ Hell’s label, which I think will be massive – this is a collab with my dear friend Kim Ahn. There is a load more, but I better stop there for now!
I the meantime, I am back on the road, seeing new cities and venues – it’s a good feeling. Then I need to get back to the studio for a bit, as I have a load of amazing singers on my wish list but need to get those riddims to them!
Photo credit: Jamie Adam Rosenberg/Jar.Photo