Natural Progression: Jon Convex
For anyone into drum and bass around the turn of the millenium and through into the 00′s, it would have come as sad news hearing of the separation of Instra:mental. However, this cloud certainly has a silver lining. From the ashes of the duo that was Alex Green and Damon Kirkham, we have been presented with the arrival of Boddika and Jon Convex. Failing to agree on the future direction of the label, Daman Kirkham aka Jon Convex, has sold his shares in the pairs Nonplus+ imprint and has established the Convex Industries, whilst releasing a string of singles on labels such as Martyn’s 3024 and [Naked Lunch]. To top off a busy year he’s also released two hefty EP’s (‘Idoru (EP1)‘ & ‘Idoru (EP2)‘), in the lead up to the drop of his debut album, ‘Idoru’.
Whilst Boddika has explored the more acidic realms of dance music, ‘Idoru’ (the title of a book released in 1996 by science fiction writer William Gibson) sees Jon Convex successfully converting his drum and bass production pallette into a slower configuration, combining elements of Sci-Fi, dubbed-out techno and a healthy dose of human feeling that invites the listener “to feel rather than think.”
Following todays release (13th August) of ‘Idoru’ we contacted Damon Kirkham to discuss natural progression, maintaining a record label and what’s next for Jon Convex following the release of the debut album…
It must be an exciting time for Jon Convex with the album about to drop – how are things for you at the moment?
Really busy. I’ve got a lot going on in my personal life at the moment having recently got married, with the album tour coming up, working on the live audio visual set and running the label. I’m a very busy stressed man at the minute.
When Instra:mental came to an end was the plan always going to be the Jon Convex project, Convex Industries label, and ‘Idoru’ album within roughly this time frame, or has it all happened quite naturally?
When Alex started to do his Bodikka work while finishing up the Instra:mental album, I obviously started to think about my own solo work and planning ahead. However, for me it feels like a natural progression. When you get older and you have so much going on in your own life it’s always easier to work for yourself and work time around your own schedule rather than someone else’s and compromise.
How much of Instra:mental do you think you have carried through into your solo productions? Can you ever see yourself producing drum & bass again?
It’s always going to have elements of Instra:mental being one half of the project. But I feel my Jon Convex work has come into it’s own and carries it’s own sound. As for drum & bass, I’d never say never as I’m close friends and work a lot with dBridge. I just haven’t heard anything in that tempo that has grabbed me or challenged me to revisit it again.
How do you see the health of London’s drum & bass scene compared to the house and techno scenes right now?
In all honesty I haven’t been involved or listened to any drum & bass in years, so I can’t really comment on the state of the drum & bass scene. But I know that the UK house and techno scene is thriving at the moment with an insane amount of good music.
Is there a specific sound that you want to push with Convex Industries, and if so, is it pretty much the sound your pushing yourself as a producer?
With Nonplus+ I always wanted it to be about the majority of music I was playing in my sets but obviously when 2 people are involved there is a compromise and it took a different direction from where I saw it going. That’s why I sold my shares of Nonplus+ to Alex (Boddika) and with Convex Industries I am going to continue how we started off with Nonplus+, with the majority of music I play in my sets. As well as putting out good electronic music I just really enjoy.
What are the main challenges you have faced starting up a label? And, what piece of advice you would give to someone looking to do the same…
As with starting anything new you’ve got to expect to put a lot of hard work into it and spend time building a strong foundation. Luckily enough for me I already started and been involved with a respected label so I know what mistakes not to make and how to run a label. My advice to anyone starting a new business would be don’t rush anything and as I said before have a solid foundation for your label so everything you build on top will be stronger and easier to maintain.
Now to the album itself. Firstly, what is the idea behind the name of it?
“Idoru” japanese meaning Artificial media personality. Everything seems to be outright manufactured these days with all the charts dominated by “pop idols” and such. The cover depicts a kind of hyper real japanese idol.
Have you tried to do anything significantly different to your recent releases on 3024, [NakedLunch], and Nonplus?
With those tunes I was still in the early stages of finding a “Convex” sound. I think the “Idoru” album is the fruits of experimentation and finding that sound.
How important do you think the arrangement of a dance album is? Any less so than of an album intended for home listening?
While working on the album I always had in the back of my mind I wanted it to work on both the dance floor and home listening; to be a universal listening experience, which hopefully I’ve pulled off with this album. And I think it depends on each artist and what they hope to achieve when compiling their album. For me it was balancing the fine line of trying to keep it between the dance floor and home listening.
Finally, what’s next after ‘Idoru’?
I’m touring Australia and Asia. I will be away for 3 months so in that time I will continue to work on my live AV set and I have releases on the label lined up all the way to next year. The next release will be Wratelic (Alex Smoke) album backed with remixes by dBridge, Scuba’s SCB alias and myself. Also I will be touring Convex Industries branded nights with some really exciting line-ups.
‘Idoru’ is out now via Convex Industries.