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Jonti - living in his own world

Sean Taylor on 29/8/11

Jonti - living in his own world

Multi-instrumentalist, producer and vocalist, Jonti, began assembling music after his departure from South Africa to Australia. Since settling down in Sydney, Jonti has recorded with luminaries Mark Ronson, Santigold, Sean Lennon and producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile). Whilst Jonti describes his own music as simple, his new label head Peanut Butter Wolf sees it as anything but that. “I understand the pop references because his music is so catchy, but the arrangements blew me away. I couldn’t figure out how the hell he did what he did. That he did it all on his own at such an early age kinda scared me. I knew right away I needed to add him to the roster.” 


Pulse: Firstly, who was Danimals and what did Jonti do with him?
Jonti: Danimals is my alter ego/best friend who allows me to do what I do. In the write up of the Sine And Moon podcast I explain my relationship with him.

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Jonti sounds like a full band, but Peanut Butter Wolf leads me to believe it is all you, can this be true? I think that comes from listening to certain records, loving them so and trying to recreate them with what I've got. I usually do love the sound of real mechanic electronic music, but for the Twirligig project i tried to make it sound like you were listening to a raw record from the future.

When you met Peanut Butter Wolf, do you remember what kind of sneakers he was wearing? I cant, but they were undeniably ill!

What is your most beat oriented track? That's a tough one, most of the tracks start out with beats. Although, I will say that there's a song on the album called Cyclic Love which was a traditional hip hop beat-tape beat with an MC.

How in the hell did you end up recording with Mark Ronson, Santigold, Sean Lennon and John Agnello? It was for a competition to write and record a song with Mark Ronson for a commercial. It was a brilliant experience, in which i got to write a song a day with many artists along with a bunch of my friends. For the past few years I also played in a band called Sherlock's Daughter and we cut the first record with the brilliant Mr. Agnello last year.

Tell us about your new album's single, Fireworks Spraying Moon, the lyrics and the gorgeous video that goes with it... That song is probably the most simple and direct lyrically. It's about romanticising that moment you were sitting in a giant golden chair on a hill with a loved one and the moon was giving you a personal fireworks show.

I met up with the director Hank [Henry ‘Hank’ DeMaio] on my first visit, and I can't remember how, but we just decided we wanted to do a video for that song. Hank had an idea involving chemicals and mirrors which I really liked, which is what created alot of the effects and eventually the final album art.

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Tell us about your discography? How have things progressed and changed? Well I've only released the one single so far (as Jonti). But I do live in my own world, where ive released dozens of albums. Sine And Moon was one of them. I first started making tracks with this brilliant windows freesynth called the TS-404, then started doing pop on a 4-track, then got a sampler and did straight beats for a couple of years, and then i started expanding on that a few years ago. The second album for Stones Throw is based around a time when i was into really cathartic music, and I'm in a different world now though.

How does it feel being Australia's first signing to Stones Throw? I'm blessed, and am grateful everyday. It's somewhere i never dreamed I would be, but did dream of getting there. Just goes to show how important dreams are. One layer of the album is a dedication to Stones Throw, with references and samples hidden in nearly every track. I really never thought they would hear it. 

Are you a massive Stones Throw fan? Who is your favourite artist from the label? Most of the roster has been massively influential but Madlib is maybe my favourite musician. i cant tell you how many sleepless nights I've had trying to figure out how some Yesterdays New Quintet stuff was done, or even some beat that took him five minutes to make was done.

Can you tell us about the selections in you recent Stones Throw Podcast...Sure! As I mentioned earlier, Sine And Moon was one of those albums in my personal discography and it was probably the most recent one before Twirligig. And this is a mix based around most of those songs.

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We spoke at James Blake's Sydney show and I blurted out something about liking vague and minimal vocals [foot in mouth - Ed]; what is your approach to this? Alot of the time I'd rather have the beat tell the story, and have the vocals be another loop or texture on top of everything. As if the words and melodies were there on a sequencer grid. I wish I could write like a troubadour sometimes though heh. I think James Blake is amazing at painting a picture with a looped verse and have the music kinda dictate it's meaning as it goes.

Your music is fresh and boldly pretty with complex production and melodic arrangements, but what is your sonic message to the world? I think theres something great about lots of broken sounds working together confidently to try create something bold. I dont know why but i like that idea.

Will you be the Panda Bear (Animal Collective) to my next Zomby 'esque beat? [Can we publish the answer so it's official? - Ed]. Hah, i dont think I could pull off a Panda Bear vocal, but if you need a Jonti vocal, I know a guy!

What's next for you that no-one else knows about yet? Trust me, theres much to come, but one thing at a time! And now its time for Twirligig - my first official album to come out on Stones Throw Records!

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Jonti Sine And Moon podcast:
1. Saturday Night Songs
2. Red On Green Ft. Jonwayne
3. Confused Birds
4. Nagoya Train Station 3 am
5. Nightshift In Blue/Koi Moon interlude
6. By This Shore
7. Flesh Of Morning
8. Lost Machines
9. Young Wildebeest
10. Nagoya Interlude
11. Moon Goddess
12. Sugar High
13. Passaros (Lovers Stone version)

Jonti on Pulse

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