Interview with DJ Josh by Markus Hamence / October 2023
Say the name ‘DJ Josh’ around the bars, clubs and special events around Adelaide, and the resounding response will be ‘OMG, I love her!’. DJ Josh, real name Jo Altman, is about to be celebrating 40 years in the industry… it goes without saying – she knows how to get a party started, get the dance floor packed and she just as easily knows how to keep it going, well into the wee hours of the morning. The hardworking DJ has been a staple in the LGBTQIA+ community since I remember, has developed a huge mainstream following and has created quite the business with her good vibe music and unique style. The Gay Icon, Adelaide Legend and all-round nice human, DJ Josh, has signed on for Feast Festival 2023’s Picnic In The Park, so I thought it opportune to sit down and get the low-down on her longevity and extensive career.
Markus Hamence: Firstly, congratulations on 40 years, next year, in the business. Do you recall how you got into the DJ game
DJ Josh: Yes, I was always around at parties and clubs getting to know DJ’s it all started really when I asked If I could have a play when they needed a toilet break. I also remember many a night at the old Mars Bar in the 80’s a DJ called Glen used to get me to play his toilet breaks that soon turned into “Glens gone home too drunk can you play the rest of the night” and that led to a residency at Mars Bar until 1995
Markus: What was the first venue you played in?
DJ Josh: Was the Mars Bar after playing many parties and a gazillion mixed tapes for mates.
Markus: Do you still remember the feeling you got after playing that gig? And is the energy you get still the same?
DJ Josh: Im not really sure I can pinpoint the very first time but I can remember songs I played that made them go nuts on the food I had a knack for song choices due to my avid record collection over the years
Markus: You are an icon in our community and very much loved, you’ve seen a lot come and go, while you are still in demand and busier than ever. What do you think has been your enduring quality that gave you the staying power.
DJ Josh: When you really have a passion for something its inevitable that you will continue your passion for the rest of your life. I never thought it would have ever lasted this long but here we are!
Markus: How do you think the communities landscape has changed over the 40 years? And for better or for worse?
DJ Josh: I don’t think its better or worse. I have played to countless generations in my time, I left the LGBTQI scene back in the late 90’s to pursue a wider audience and this was the progression I needed to take to keep me current and satisfied with my growth as an national known DJ.
Markus: What’s one of your favourite gigs that you’ve played over the years?
DJ Josh: Not one but 3 Sydney GL Mardi gras, it was a life long dream of mine to “One day play at Mardi Gras” and after 10 years I Finally achieved major bills in the RHI and Horden Pavilion along with 2 Sleaze Balls in Sydney and a 10 year guest resident at ARQ Sydney.
Markus: Scenario – The dance floor is empty, what’s a banger guaranteed to get the party started?
DJ Josh: Oh in a corporate world the ‘Nutbush’ and in the clubbing world ‘Show Me Love’, Robin S iconic song
Markus: Let’s gossip – Who’s someone that you would NEVER work with again? Tell us a horror story.
DJ Josh: Wendy James from Transvision vamp, I WAS A MASSIVE FAN even have her records. She was booked for a gig with me and she completely snubbed me and didn’t even finish her total set that night. She was quite rude and Im unclear as to why but hey everyone has their bad days even celebs.
Markus: Funniest ‘club’ or ‘bar’ story that you’ve experienced…
DJ Josh: When I was really sick of dare I say it playing the usual Kylie and Madonna tracks, after 10 or so years I was bored. One night I was at Mars Bar and no one was dancing and I was struggling to find my groove as where the crowd. I’d been shopping for records that day and picked up a few personal buys for home listening. I love a bit of grunge and rock so I have purchased L7 and Nirvana’s ‘Smells like teen spirit’, out of the blue for shits and giggles I dropped Nirvana and the riff dropped and everyone in the club screamed and rammed the dance floor I got a standing ovation after the track finished so of course I followed up with ‘Let’s Pretend That We’re Dead’ by L7 that was a special moment. Who would of thought queens would love a bit of grunge???
Markus: You are playing at Feast’s Picnic In The Park this year, what can we expect from your set?
DJ Josh: It’s my first time back in well over a decade and a half so my format for the closing set will be a walk down DIVA and GAY anthems for sure. Old and new remixes of some of the biggest tracks played over the years of my career on the LGBTQI scene. Think vocal, piano, uplifting and queer all the way!
Markus: How important is the Feast Festival, in your opinion, in 2023?
DJ Josh: FEAST is the only band aid or glue to our community left, we need to support this and celebrate it every year. The closeness we all felt in the past doesn’t seem to be evident now, acceptance in the wider community and education along with progression have been a major driving factor. I often feel at times there is too much seperatist groups in their own bubbles of minority groups. There is too much separatism in the community community any more hope that makes sense?
Markus: What do you listen to, music-wise, at home?
DJ Josh: I love to listen to anything that is in my collection Im a massive fan of music in general to suit my mood, I don’t listen to commercial radio it drives me bonkers with repetatition of the same songs. In my car I listen to mediations and at home I let my wife and step daughter take control they educate me daily with all the current trends.
Markus: What does Josh do when not being DJ Josh?
DJ Josh: I run a physio practice with my wife, full time and loving the work we do for our clients. I run meditation sound baths which is my new thing with Joey from Jayur. I’m a promoter of events and generally love to lock myself away at home and be a hermit too!
Markus: Finally, finish this sentence: What the world needs now is…
DJ Josh: is Love sweet love!
Markus: Thanks for the conversation DJ Josh, a pleasure, and happy Feast 2023 to you!
DJ Josh: Markus, I will see you at Wendy and Grace next week! What a great duo I love them both. Thank you so much for chatting with me xx
Don’t miss DJ Josh at Feast Festival’s Picnic In The Park
Sunday 5 November 2023, from 11.00am
More information here!