They say Australia is the lucky country – and it’s definitely been lucky for Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Jonti.
Escaping South Africa with his parents in the search for a better life a few years ago, Jonti spent hours in his bedroom listing to music and creating his own tunes, which resulted in last year’s debut album Twirligig.
He’s now achieving all sorts of dreams – being the first Australian signed to U.S. label Stones Throw – and collaborating with the likes of Mark Ronson and Santigold.
Music Feeds catches up with Jonti as he prepares to head around the country playing his favourite festival of all time – Laneway.
Music Feeds: You’ve had a pretty wicked last 12 months …
Jonti: Yeah, it’s amazing, I just started out in my room and ever since I’ve come here there’s been so many opportunities. In the beginning I never thought of myself as an artist – I just wanted to be the behind-the-scenes kind of guy.
MF: So you’d say it’s a dream come true?
J: Oh definitely, I had a dream to do music full time, and thought maybe I’d be an engineer or a producer instead of a live artist, so it’s incredible. I’m still flipping out on how to manage it all and pay my rent on a frequent basis.
MF: Take us through your sound – could you pinpoint it into a specific genre?
J: When I started, I just did hip hop stuff and practiced production – I never MC’d or anything … all I did was just put my voice on the tracks. It’s definitely a breed of lots of stuff, probably more around 92bpm vibe hip hop, and sometimes moving up to 120bpm every now and then.
MF: Do you reckon you’ve captured that sound on your debut album Twirligig – or is it more of a club-friendly record.
J: I’ve never thought of making stuff for the clubs, just things with lots of bass. The stuff I’ve done before has been just on little stereo speakers, so I really wanted to try and put things into nicer environments – and make it harder, bigger and easier on the ears. It’s something I made for myself 3 years ago as a weird little project, but now it’s out and I couldn’t be happier.
MF: For someone who never wanted to be a live performer – how are you finding it?
J: At first it was something really tricky … but recently it’s been an absolute joy. Just that energy you share with the audience and the journey you take on stage is amazing, and how therapeutic it can be as long as it goes right. I’m still new at it though, there’s so much going on – I could have a synthesiser blow up at any minute.
MF: You’re about to play the Laneway Festival around the country next month – are you excited?
J: Oh yeah, the line-up is ridiculous. I’ve been every year since I’ve been here and I’ve really enjoyed it. The first time I went, Stereolab were playing and they’re my favourite band, so since then it’s been a romantic relationship with festival in my mind. It’s also near the end of summer where everyone gets back to work, so it’s like an epic closure to summer.
MF: What can people expect from your shows?
J: They can expect loads of beats; I’ll have a special show prepared especially for Laneway. I’ll be trying new stuff, bringing as much energy as possible and sharing the love.
MF: And what are your plans for the rest of the year?
J: Just playing lots of shows, I’m going to be working on another album for a while, and I’ll be helping out The Avalanches on their album too.