“My number one favourite thing DJing is taking the back doors out of a place with a tune that (on paper) shouldn’t have worked.”
It seems almost a like throwback to talk about a DJ these days who isn’t also producer. It makes it even more impressive when those who fit this profile weave their way in the conscience of the masses in a scene which, at times, can feel rather overcrowded. Jon K is certainly one these DJs. His ability to consistently produce quality sets, incorporating a far reaching net of influences, has earned him the recognition of his fellow DJs and music lovers, all stemming from a very popular residency at Manchester night Hoya:Hoya.
We’re delighted to be able to add Jon to our mix series and, marking the 60th in the series, we have a special mix that was recorded live from Jon’s set at Dimensions 2015. Alongside his mix we asked Jon a few questions about producers and DJs with multiple hats, managing different crowds and Jon’s interest in design.
In with an ice-breaker, what’s your first musical memory?
Off the top of head, singing along to Boney M on telly.
Many moons ago you used to make music as part of a band. Why did you turn your back on that and what was it that drew you to DJing?
That band was great fun but we all ended up in different cities at the end of college. I was already a vinyl freak before the band but didn’t actually get into DJing til a few years later. It was always going to happen though.
Did you ever consider the production route?
Yep, only in recent years. I’m working on stuff at the moment but not in any great hurry with it.
You are known for having an acute ear for quality across a broad range of musical styles, where does your vast appreciation of music come from?
It’s hard to say really. I’ve always enjoyed checking different stuff and going out to all kind of nights and gigs. I guess I never really bought into the idea of having to just move in one scene.
Do you find having multiple musical hats challenging when deciding how to approach different sets?
I’m lucky enough to get booked for a wide variety of nights from straight up party to some pretty dark experimental tackle and all sorts in between. One of the things I enjoy most is the challenge of sussing out a party and doing what I do. If you’re thinking in terms of energy rather than genre that’s where the fun starts and you get away with loads more. My number one favourite thing DJing is taking the back doors out of a place with a tune that (on paper) shouldn’t have worked.
I play all kind of shit in my mixes and if I get the feeling that’s what a party is about I’ll do that all night long but it’s nice to reign it in too. Generally speaking though, when people are on a dancefloor they tend no to be sticklers for genre if something’s moving them.
How would you say this compares to a producer working under multiple aliases?
I guess it’s slightly trickier because my mixes are all me rather than being filed under different aliases but, the way I see it, if you get known for having good ears, having broad taste and understanding how to read a party that should speak for itself. I think people get it. Plus, even if nights I play are slightly more genre-specific, they tend to be at the open minded end of that…touch wood I’ve not dropped a bollock yet so there’s no alter egos in the pipeline!
Who are some of your favourite labels, DJs and producers out of Manchester at the moment?
That’s a rabbit hole right there and I won’t even go there on the DJ front cause it’ll be long (and I’ll forget people then feel like a twat after). So, off the top of my head right now, ONO Records – there’s a Tom Boogizm & Negra Branca on my recent Dekmantel mix. I’ve just had some amazing new stuff from Garth BE which will be coming on Sweet Sticky. Swing Ting, MeandYou, Ourtime Music and DDS are on a massive roll lately.
You have a history in design work and graphics, could you tell us a bit more about this and how your design work first overlapped with music?
I was always doing graphics for nights and, because I worked in a record store, I ended up doing sleeves for various labels too, so the overlap was pretty big. In fact it was 100%! There’s a load more about that in this interview.
Can you see parallels in your style as a selector with your visual work?
Yep, for sure…..my eyes are just as greedy as my ears.
We feel privileged to have got our hands on this mix which was recorded at Dimensions Festival last year. Can you remember much from that set – how you approached it beforehand and how it went down at the time?
Haha, I remember all the stages seeming pretty quiet then realised it was cause half the festival was at the clearing for Moodymann!! I remember the sound being amazing too. Dimensions kill it on that front.
You’re heading back to Dimensions this year. What are you overall impressions of the festival?
I’ve always had great fun there and I think my set from 2013 was one of my highlights of that year.
What’s on the horizon for you in the coming months that we should look out for?
I’m at Bussey Building this Saturday (12th) then Paris at a night called Untitled on the 19th and was just asked to do one of those Boiler Room Collections interviews in a few weeks. There’s also a collaboration project which is under wraps but hopefully seeing the light of day later this year which I’m very excited about.