Behind The Rhythm | Jonna [City Fly]
An assured DJ, producer and label owner, Leicester-based Jonna is an artist with an astute knowledge of the electronic music scene, with a particularly fine nous for house.
After a fair few years of running nights across the UK and Europe, the focus of recent years for Jonna has been on nurturing is own label, City Fly. As a record label City Fly has been born out of the ingredients that have made Jonna such a pronounced artist; underground house and techno with groove and soul form the fore of what the label ethos, showcasing homegrown talent as well as a cast of well-revered artists including the likes of Flori and Basic Soul Unit. The label not only illustrates the vision of Jonna’s musical ambition, but also delivers in terms of the quality throughout the output of the label, with a consistent delivery of carefully selected releases.
For our latest Behind The Rhythm he’s delivered a mix with distinct identity, insistently joyous in all the places house should be. With over an hour of smooth grooves and rhythmic house that ebbs and flows seamlessly throughout, Jonna gives a perfect snapshot of his prowess behind the decks. Off the back of performing at Gottwood festival, we also caught up with Jonna to talk more about his Leicester roots, some of his most important influences and up-coming plans for 2016.
So I think we should start with Leicester City? Has this been the best year in your life?
haha yes somehow suspected this would crop up… i don’t really know what to say other than what has already been said. It’s probably the best thing that has ever happened to the city & the biggest achievement of all time.
It makes me very proud to be from this city. Although football has took a bit of a backseat over the years as i’ve become more and more focused on music i cannot be helped but captivated by what has happened. Most of my family are Leicester Die hards so i’m particularly happy for them as they’ve been through thick & thin.
What has it done to the mood around the city?
The mood in the city is electric, I had the pleasure of going to a few of the games this season and the atmosphere is spine-tinglingly incredible, and you can really feel that in the atmosphere around the city. The victory parade just topped that, definitely moments I won’t forget.
How has growing up and living in Leicester shaped your musical identity?
Attending nights like Babble in my late teens really opened my eyes to an underground scene in the city; they were bringing names like Inland Knights to Leicester who I’ve always been a big fan of, especially back then. Eclectic djs like Tony Minvielle, Ross Hillard, Rich Bee also had a big influence on me. I’m quite particular, especially with the house I like, so I guess I wanted to fill a gap in the market by running my own nights with my own sounds. Leicester has treated us well over the years and we have a small underground following.
How old were you when you were first exposed to Club Culture?
At an early age, we were going to clubs and parties from about the age of 15 & always interested in who was djing and the music was the most important thing.
When did you start dj’n?
I started djing at 14 on a pair of 2nd hand belt drives, had my first gig at 16 at R bar in Leicester on a week night.
Do you remember the first store that you bought a record and do you still have it?
I do actually it was Paul johnson’s ‘Get Get Down’ – one of the first releases on Defected.
It’s somewhere at my parents house along with a lot more records that they are not to happy about me keeping there haha
Favorite record in the bag at the moment?
It’d have to be Red Rack’ems ‘wonky bassline disco banger’ over recent months. I’ve always been a fan of Danny’s music. I think sometimes he can be too far ahead of the game for his own good, but he’s nailed this one – it works on every dance floor.
Who are your major influences – whether it is DJ Style or productions, what artists/dj’s have made the biggest impact on you?
Scott Thatmanmonkz especially on a production tip. I love his music & had the honour of working with him both for my label City Fly & Shadeleaf. He’s been a mentor & great influence on my releases & style.
Your Celebrating 5 years of City Fly – When did you realise you wanted to start a label and release records?
It was always a goal and almost a dream to do, which kind of required us to come out of our confirm zone. We had run the parties for about 5 years before the label launched. We wanted to portray the sounds at our parties on the label. We had a lot of quality contacts through the events and radio shows so decided to give it a ago and its one of best things I’ve ever done.
What’s been the major highlight so far?
There has been a few but getting my first EP released on Shadeleaf and see it do so well has been mind-blowing. Releasing our fully in house produced EP on City Fly for the last release has also been amazing.
Myself, Samwell & Erik Rico also have a track coming out on a compilation curated by Seven Davis Jr Next month too. He has been one of my favourite artists over the past few years so have him release on of my tracks is crazy.
After the success you’ve already had, what does the future hold for the Label?
I’d like to see Ash (The Last Trip To Gandahar), Darran P & J’shez – the guys I run city fly with release there own full artist EP’s on City Fly, it’s something we are working on. Watch this space.
How does your attitude to music differ with your productions from the label/dj’n or does it follow the same direction?
All 3 are pretty strongly connected for me. I guess first and foremost I am a DJ, My label & productions are influenced by my experience as a DJ.
Tell us more about your involvement with Shadeleaf Music?
Shadeleaf is label of my good friend Scott Thatmanmonkz. Its a bit of a crazy story actually, I booked Scott to DJ at City Fly well over a year ago now. He heard some of my music at the after party & shown an interest in signing it. After a lot of advice and patience from Scott, I finally got it right and we released ‘through the night’ featuring Erik Rico. The release has now sold out which is nuts.
What do you have lined up in the future, any plans for a new EP/LP? Are you playing any festivals or exciting gigs over the summer?
I’m playing in London on 24th June for the Seven Davis Jr ‘Future Society’ Launch Party in which i have a track on (a collab with Samwell & Erik Rico) which is out on the same day. Festival wise I’ll be playing @ gotwwod Festival, Wales & Electric Elephant, Croatia. We’re also doing a 5 years of city fly records uk tour in October & November, so far we’ll be in Leicester, Bristol, Birmingham, London, Milton Keynes, Leeds, Newcastle & Dublin. On the release front, the next City Fly comes from Simbad and Lemy Leopard on 27th June, We have EP’s coming from Son Of sound (Inc Pablo Valentino Remix) and our boy The Last Trip To Gandahar (Inc. Seven Davis Jr Mix) later in the year too. ‘Through the Night’ will get a release on a Shadeleaf Remix EP with Luke Soloman Remix. I’m also finishing off another solo EP & a collab EP with J’Shez in which the legendary Robert Owens wills be gracing his vocals on.