Big Sound From Down Under: Jonny Faith

After our recent feature on Jonny Faith’s ‘Blue Sky On Mars EP’ we decided to track down the Headroom honcho to delve a little deeper. This guys music is rooted in hip-hop but oozes cosmic sensibility. His debut EP, released on Civil Music, effortlessly pens organic, meteoric sonics with machine-driven, low swung computer-dub. Since taking the hop from hometown Edinburgh over to Sydney, Jonny Faith has made a resounding contribution to his adopted nations bass/beat scene.

We sent an e-mail down-under to discuss influence, the Australian obsession with the ‘International’ act and who/what we should be checking out in the Southern hemisphere.

Interview/ Josh Thomas

Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself?
Hi my name’s Jonny and I’m an audio addict.

Your recent EP for Civil Music definitely has a hip-hop swagger but draws from a kaleidoscope of sounds; can you talk us through your influences past-to-present?
I’ve always loved electronic music from a very young age, although I love all forms of music really, something about the textures and unique sounds I could find in electronic stuff always fascinated me. I have always looked for music that uses new and original sounds and to me that is the beauty of electronic music. Unlike a more traditional band format with conventional instruments, an electronic production may have one or more unique sounds which cannot be found in any other song and may never be repeated again. So, this interest in sound design and the way that electronic stuff focused on groove more than anything else caught my ear very early on. These days I listen to anything from 30s/40s swing jazz to dub and reggae to rock to experimental electronics.

How did the hook-up with Civil Music come about?
Well, I just sent some mp3s to civil as a demo and luckily they responded almost straight away with a very positive response saying that we should work on something together. That was the start of a long back and forth, they gave me some really great constructive feedback and encouragement during which I learnt a huge amount and feel like I matured quite a bit as a producer. It was frustrating at first but through frustration comes learning and I gotta give a massive thanks to civil for pushing me to take my productions further!

You originally hail from Edinburgh and hopped over to Australia 7 years ago, what’s the story behind your move?
I came over to Australia for the first time for a 1 year working holiday and to find gigs as a dj, which I did and had an amazing time. Then like many others before me I met an amazing girl over here and the rest, as they say, is history.

Were you involved in music before moving to Australia?
Yea I had been djing for a few years before I came over here, I got into djing while I was still at school when I was shown some videos of the
DMC world championships. That got me into hip hop and scratching and then drum and bass came a long and I started playing that a lot as well. Edinburgh had a small but passionate hip hop and drum bass scene back then and I played some of my first gigs at the old Bongo Club (an Edinburgh institution), one of the best of those was supporting Asian Dub Foundation there when I was 17 or so. They invited me to breakfast the next morning but I still regret partying all night that night and missing that meet up! As well as playing at the bongo a bit, I was resident at a drum and bass night called Obscene which was run by a crew of close mates who are still going strong with their new night Volume.

Latest tracks by jonnyfaith

We understand you’ve contributed heavily to the beat/bass scenes progression in Australia, how’s things looking down-under at the moment and how do you see things shaping up in the future?
Australia has a lot of great music going on right now but still seems to look to overseas artists for the majority of it’s inspiration despite the wealth of local talent at it’s doorstep. Local radio stations do a great job of supporting local music, Australia has a very healthy community radio culture, but it’s the average punter that doesn’t seem to give enough kudos to Aussie artists, particularly in electronic music, there’s this obsession here with the ‘international’ guest to the point where club nights with all local line ups can be sneered at. Of course it isn’t everyone who has this attitude but it is definitely a wide spread issue and I really hope this fades away and Australians give more support to local produce. I would love to see things go this way cos I reckon there’s enough talent over here to have a scene with the output and reputation of places like Berlin, London, L.A. and the like.

You host ‘For The Heads’ radio show on 2SER.fm, could you talk us through the concept of the show?
I hosted ‘For the Heads’ with Monk Fly (a talented Sydney producer/dj) for over a year, the idea of the show was to focus on forward thinking electronic styles, at first it was more diverse but when more ‘future beats’ (or whatever you wanna call it) came out we naturally seemed to hone in on that a bit. The radio side of things has now sort of transitioned into a new phase on a new radio station though. Monk Fly hosts his own solo show now called Future Face and I try to go in for a guest mix from time to time. Doing less radio has given me more time to focus on production which has been great although I might get back into radio more in future. Check out the blog (including audio) for Monk Fly’s show here http://futureface.wordpress.com/ He always serves up a great selection of cosmic music.

Any producers/djs/radio shows we should be looking at your end?
Yea definitely! So there’s Monk Fly and his show Future Face, Monk Fly also runs a label called The Frequency Lab with a lot of up and coming
producers, he and I curated a compilation on Frequency Lab last year called Headroom, that’s definitely something to check out. In Sydney there’s also a great crew of producers called the 104 Collective, an awesome and unique producer by the name of MoR and various others. Elsewhere in Australia, a producer from Melbourne called Electric Sea Spider really impresses me. He sounds a bit like an Aussie version of Hudson Mohawke or something.

Also who are you feeling in the UK at the moment?
The remix iTal Tek did for my EP really blew me away so I’m really excited to hear more new stuff in that vein from him. Other folks I’m feeling over that way would be people like, Bullion, Paul White, Slugabed and Kelpe.

What’s the rest of 2011 looking like release wise?
I’ve got another EP finished and ready to go so I’d like to see that come out within the next few months. After that I’d love to try an do something with a vocalist which is something I’ve never done before. No idea who at this stage but I’d love to make that happen.

On the bookings front, what’s coming up and are we going to be seeing you in the UK anytime soon?
I’ve got a couple of dates coming up in Sydney and yea I’m hoping to be over that way later on this year, around your autumn perhaps. Very excited about that possibility, watch this space!

‘Blue Sky On Mars’ EP is out now on Civil Music