Untitled 909 Podcast 183: EM + STAV

Having previously released on Intergraded, Gottwax, and Earful of Wax – production and DJ duo EM + STAV launched their own imprint, JoyLift, earlier this year. Originally starting as an event series, the pair launched the label arm with their own EP, ‘Endless’, drawing from Bristol’s storied bass mutations as a springboard for their own modernist take on dance music and featured a remix from Forest Drive West.

Alongside their production output, EM + STAV are firmly committed to helping bring through the next generation of artists and give them the opportunity and platform to hone their skills via their independent projects such as Mix Nights and Restless Nights. Their UK-centric DJ sets that tap into the old and new sounds of UK bass and UK techno have seen them play at storied events and festivals such as Field Manuevers, Gottwood, Love International, Paloma, Headroom and Livity Sound showcase.

In their mix for us, EM + STAV put the spotlight on Bristol and the city’s wealth of forward-thinking talent that taps into the free-spirited energy, bass-heavy soundscapes and the more obscure and experimental side of the city. In the accompanying interview, we chat about their JoyLift label and event series, the most formative events and DJ sets they’ve experienced, what community means to them and approach to sets vs mixes.



Hey! How are you doing? What have you been up to lately?

Hey there! We’re doing well, thanks for asking! Lately, we’ve been busy in the studio, working on some new tracks and preparing for upcoming gigs. We’ve got some exciting JoyLift parties lined up too. We recently reshuffled our studio setup and have some new gear we’re getting to grips with.


Let’s start from the very beginning, what was your first introduction to music in general and then more specifically electronic music?

We would both say our first introduction to music was through our parents, who played music at home all the time. We grew up hearing artists like Prince, George Michael, The Cure, Queen, Depeche Mode, and New Order.

EM: My specific interest in electronic music began during my teenage years, thanks to my older sister’s boyfriend at the time. He had an amazing collection of garage and house vinyl records. At 17, I went to Ibiza with my sister and discovered electronic music, which led me to regularly visit iconic clubs like Fabric, Turnmills, and The End. Those moments solidified my love for dance music and shaped my musical journey for sure.

STAV: I got introduced to tape packs like Helter Skelter and Nicky Blackmarket when I was 15. I remember installing Rockford Fosgate subwoofers and JL Audio speakers in my first car, driving around with the music rattling the whole vehicle. I cringe about that now 🙂


Who was the first artist or band that you were a fan of?

EM: One of the first artists I was a big fan of was Daft Punk. Their innovative sound had a huge impact on me growing up.

STAV: My dad is from Ireland, so Irish music was a big part of my early life. I grew up loving The Pogues, and other Irish groups.


Was there a formative moment growing up, whether that’s seeing your favourite band live or an incredible DJ set, that led you to this path?

EM: There have been many formative moments along the way, but looking back, one big moment for me was when I went to Ibiza at 17. Seeing my favorite DJs perform there was a huge deal. It sparked something in me, and after that trip, I got my first set of belt-drive turntables. From then on, regular visits to those London clubs I mentioned. These experiences in my early 20s really shaped where I am today.

STAV: Those early years of listening to jungle, garage and then house kicked off my love for music, but I really fell down the rabbit hole through meeting Em, I knew I wanted to dive into DJing and production.


 How does your environment inform your work?

Our environment plays a big role in shaping our sound and creative process. Living in Bristol, surrounded by such a vibrant and diverse music community, constantly inspires us and keeps us motivated to push boundaries. Our studio is also in our home, so having it close by to dip into is important, especially being parents. Our time is super limited. It’s now either mega early in the morning—Stav likes the sweet spot of 5am-7am before our little one gets up—or evenings after he goes to bed. It’s amazing seeing so many talented DJs and producer friends in Bristol smashing it; it really gives you the energy to keep giving it time.


Where do you look for sources of inspiration outside of music?

Outside of music, we find inspiration in nature and everyday life experiences. These sources often find their way into our music, adding meaning to our tracks. We’re constantly listening to music we get sent, mixes, and digging on Bandcamp, Discogs, and in record shops whenever we visit a city.


Late last year you launched your own label, JoyLift, what was the motivation behind starting your own imprint? What’s the concept for curation for JoyLift?

The motivation behind starting JoyLift was to create a platform for showcasing our own music. More producers are setting up their own labels because it offers greater control over our music and creative direction. Platforms like Bandcamp have made it much simpler to start and run a label by providing tools for distribution, sales, and promotion. Having our own label allows us to take the creative process into our own hands.


JoyLift is also an event series, how does this fit into the wider JoyLift narrative? What does bringing the label into the club space allow you to do?

We’ve both run parties over the years, and it felt like the next step for us to co-promote. This gives us the opportunity to showcase the label’s unique sound and vision in a live setting, test new tracks, and foster a sense of community within Bristol.


You launched the label with your own EP, how do you feel this EP fits in with the ethos of the label? What’s the inspiration behind this release?

Each track on the EP embodies a tough, brooding quality that resonates with the immersive experience of soundsystem culture. We aimed to create evocative, shifting narratives within a club-ready framework, utilising various processes like dubwise processing and deft sound design. Our inspiration for the EP came from our deep connection to Bristol’s music community and our desire to translate its dynamic energy into our own modernist dance music experience.


You’re interlinked with the free-spirited landscape of Bristol’s music community—what does community mean to you and how does this feed into your work?

Community is everything to us. It’s about supporting and uplifting each other, collaborating and sharing ideas, and celebrating each other’s successes. In Bristol, we’re lucky to be part of such a tight-knit and supportive music scene. There are some real Bristol spots, where you can feel the Bristol love, like Mikey Zoggs, Strange Brew, and Love Inn. You will undoubtedly bump into a friendly face.


Are there any artists, labels, collectives, etc., in Bristol that you would like to spotlight? Who are you most excited about at the moment?

There are so many amazing artists, labels, and collectives in Bristol that deserve recognition. Some we’re particularly excited about right now include our friend Jen (Yushh), who runs Pressure Dome and is killing it with her talent as a producer and DJ. George i, whose production blows us away, and Grove, a mega-talented artist featured on one of our new tracks. Daisy Moon has some exciting releases coming up and is a great DJ and producer. Ido Plums, Dual Monitor, Elpac, I-sha, and Anina are also mega-talented DJs.


You’ve also contributed a mix for the 909 series, what’s the concept behind this one?

For the 909 series mix, we wanted to showcase the vibrant talent within Bristol’s producer community. The concept behind this mix is to highlight the depth and diversity of electronic music coming out of our city. It’s a Bristol producer-only mix, featuring artists we hugely admire. The tracklist includes live recordings, unreleased tracks, new and old releases, giving listeners a sneak peek into the sounds bubbling up from Bristol’s underground music scene.


What is your approach to club mixes versus approaching mixes for an online platform or radio show?

When approaching club mixes versus mixes for online platforms or radio shows, we like to tailor our selections and mixing style to suit the context. Club mixes are more high-energy and focused on keeping the dancefloor moving, while mixes for online platforms allow us to explore deeper and more experimental sounds.


What are you looking forward to the most in 2024?

We’re part of an exciting compilation that we’ve contributed to, coming out very soon, and we’re aiming to release our next EP before the summer, all being well with pressing timescales. We also have a bunch of gigs in cities and countries we’ve not played before, which is cool. We have some exciting JoyLift parties planned and a few festivals booked in. We’re part of the final Field Maneuvers festival. This year will be the last for the beloved party in its current form, with 2025 set to look different. It’s a very special festival. We’ve been residents since its inception, and it’s been our yearly highlight—shaping us as DJs and artists. The final festival is going to be a very big one!




‘Endless’ by EM + STAV is out now via JoyLift – buy here.