Space Between The Keys: Jon Phonics

In one of his latest exploits, Astral Black label boss and bearded sound explorer, Jon Phonics, presents the soulful sounds of Tabanca, a definite must watch for the future.

Out on one of London’s fast growing imprints, Push & Run, the EP runs deep into the realms of space-age-slow-jamz . A supremely engaging release, Tabanca’s vocal work is that of a real Soulstress and it quickly becomes obvious why the emphasis on her voice is central to the record. I hate to use and have never used the adjective ‘sexy’ but will make an exception here. Three solid remixes accompany the original work, with Slugabed laying down a trap, Pedestrian manipulating the melody of ‘Mind Games’ and U taking ‘Domino Effect’ to the Jungle.

Hyponik had a chat with Jon recently about Domino Effect, Tabanca and the future of Astral Black.

Jon Phon! How have you been? Busy pretending to be Scottish recently right?

I’ve been good thanks man. Indeed, perhaps owed to the past 6 months or so I’ve been living in Glasgow and how fabulously it’s been treating me.

But seriously, are you happy with the final product that is the Domino Effect EP?

Of course, I mean, with every release that comes out a year or so at least has passed since you made it so obviously I feel I’ve progressed a lot and there’s a million things I would change. But, you know, you have to learn to let things be what they are and I feel that’s exactly what the Tabanca record is – not too much, not too little, just three tracks existing in their own space with the vocalist and the lyrics as the focus.

How was it that you met Tabanca?

I met Tabanca through a mutual friend, shouts out to Lauren Kaye. I’d mentioned to Lauren I wanted to work with a vocalist and she put us in touch. I sent some different kinds of beats to her at first, just to see what she picked up on and she recorded the first verse and hook of what would become ‘With Direction’, things just went from there.

Jon Phonics

Can you shed any light on her background or previous output? There’s a certain air of mysticism to her… I only know that she’s a Londoner by way of Trinidad (with an amazing voice)…

She is the space between the keys of a piano.

The final product sits well with Push & Run’s current catalogue, was it a case of discussing working on something with the label prior or did you take it to them post production?

I’ve known the guys at Push & Run for a while, I played a few shows with them and was in touch sending music through. I’d sent over ‘With Direction’ once it was finished and they were into it, I mentioned we had some other tracks we were working on and so once the songs were finished I sent them through and that was pretty much it.

Did the label organize the remixers or did you select for particular reasons?

I selected the guys for the remixes, I’m not really into the idea of getting folk you don’t know to remix your record and wanted it to be people that are like friends and family so asked Pedestrian and Slugabed. Then with U… I’ve never met U, but was really getting into his stuff at the time and just asked him to see on the off chance. Fortunately he was really receptive and that was that.

Plans to get a Tabanca piece on Astral Black at all?

We got Inkke’s ‘Faded With Da Kittens’ up next (out March 3rd) and then 12s from Budgie, Jaisu, DJ Milktray & Inkke to come first but so not yet man. But who know’s, there may be some kind of Tabanca/Astral Black collab at some point.

I’m hoping you’ve got plans to do a live show with Tabanca! On the cards?

It’s kinda difficult with us being in different cities now so it’s not something we’ve been working on but if someone was to ask us to play (hint) I would love to get a shot at working some of those beats live.

Jon Phonics

How’s the rest of your year looking? 

A few bits, there’s a 3 track 12″ for Ho Tep real soon. A 7″ with a digital EP for First Word and some other cheeky bits here and there….

Nice chatting to you as always Jon, where can we catch you playing in the coming months?

Next London show is Saturday March 1st at The Alibi for Inkke’s ‘Faded With Da Kittens’ launch party with Inkke, DJ Milktray, Budgie & YUNG Impey which should be a blinder. Then some exciting bits coming up that haven’t been announced yet so lock to my Twitter and Facebook  for more info on that.

To book Jon Phonics to play in your city e-mail: ahsan@avant-booking.co.uk

Words: Will Edge
Photography: Kirstin Kerr