LA producer Jonnie King coins himself as the DJ that has no sound. Purveyor of timeless & genre spanning music, he makes his debut on Constant Circles as part of our SPIRALS series. We invited him for an interview & guest slot on the radio show.
What is your background and how did you get into music?
Born in Boston, made in Los Angeles. Growing up I was always that guy who found the newest music and used to record mix tapes on cassette. I would attend concerts religiously and be the leader of the pack at every show. It was only natural that eventually I’d get the itch and pick up an instrument, so I learned a little guitar and piano along the way, but when I moved to LA and discovered electronic music it opened up a whole new world to me. A close friend at the time was selling a pair of CDJs and asked if I knew anyone that wanted to buy them. I thought it would be a fun hobby to learn, and eventually it spiralled into an obsession. Then I went to Point Blank Music School in LA and my production career really started to take a life of its own.
You are based in LA – how would you describe the scene there right now and how has it influenced your music & career?
LA is a very underrated market. Almost any night of the week you can find a good party, and the weekends are completely saturated in the house & techno scene. I will admit the scene is in it’s infancy, being that it really started blossoming the past 3-4 years, but there are so many good artists coming through here that it’s really making a name for itself. A few of my favorite parties out here are SBCLTR, La Vibe and Dialogue. These guys really understand the scene, and are innovators in the LA underground. I think the biggest thing I’ve got from the LA music scene is meeting and becoming friends with so many established artists, some of who I’ve gone on to work with, or have given very useful advice in developing my career.
What is the most important thing for people to see when visiting LA?
Hmm.. That’s such a hard question to answer. I’ve been here for over 9 years so everything is pretty standard to me at this point. If I had to suggest what to do to immerse yourself in the culture, I’d say attend a Kundalini yoga class with Guru Singh and Tej (they will blow your mind open), eat at Crossroads (my favourite vegan restaurant), take a hike up Griffith Park to the observatory, and then attend an underground party on the weekend.
You are making your debut on CC with ‘The OB Voyager’ – what was your production process and how did the track come about?
The track came about one day when I was jamming in the studio with my good friend Nick Trikakis. We have an OB-6 and Moog Voyager in our studios, and the concept came about in a 45-minute jam session. “The OB Voyager” was named after these two magnificent instruments. The track has gone through many different edits to get to where it is now.
What are your key pieces of studio kit?
Pretty much every song I make includes my OB-6 for pads & leads, Sub 37 for bass, Analog Rytm for kick and drums, Maschine for percussion and fx, and I just bought a SSL X-desk which I’m going to start summing everything through. It’s been a long process getting this X-desk configured with my setup tho!
Do you have a certain sound in mind when you start each project? Do you think your music falls into a particular genre?
I sometimes do. If I hear something that influences me I’ll go in that direction, but a lot of times I just start jamming and see where the music takes me. I have been making all sorts of music, and it’s been extremely difficult for me to settle on one. I see it as a blessing and a curse, because as an up-and-coming artist it makes it harder for people to categorize you, but I think in the long run it will benefit me because my style of music is so extremely versatile and adaptable.
What’s your dream label to release on?
I hate sounding like a fan boy, but I’d probably say Diynamic. I’ve gotten to know some of those guys over the years, and what they are doing and the music they are putting out is incredible. Keinemusik is also another.
What is the coolest gig you have ever played & why?
I’ve played at Sisyphos in Berlin a couple times. Those sets were really special. The first time I played was on the Summer Solstice which was the longest day of the year. It literally didn’t get dark until like midnight, and I was playing a 4-hour set which ended up going a little over and it ended up getting light out before I was even done! Talk about a surreal experience. The musical journey I took the crowd on was quite a trip. You are not allowed to take photos at most clubs in Berlin, so for the entire duration of your set fans are 100% committed. You are truly connected because of this. I really wish more clubs around the world would enforce this rule. Imagine.
Tell us your deepest darkest secret?
I like to walk around my house naked.
Haha thanks for the mental image! So, changing the subject.. What do you have coming up in terms of releases?
I have an EP that I made with my friend Ido featuring the lovely voice of Shawni coming out on Manual Music’s sister-label MNL on September 25th. Hubert Kirchner and Lonely Boy made some epic remixes on it. Then we have “The OB Voyager” release of course on Constant Circles a couple days later on the 29th. In April of 2018 I’ll be releasing an EP I made with Francesca Lombardo on her label Echolette. KMLN and David Hohme made some really nice remixes on that one.
How did you put together your guest mix for the radio show & what have you included – any exclusives or surprises?
I made it around “The OB Voyager”, and envisioned how I would want to lead up to it if playing a real set. It stars off with some gritty tribal grooves, and then builds into real smashers. The closing track is a remix by Hubert Kirchner off my upcoming MNL release 🙂