Mathew Jonson's Jungle Roots
- Words: Philip Sherburne
If you were looking for someone to map the incestuous interbreeding of the electronic music community, look no further than Vancouver, BC producer Mathew Jonson.
In the past year, Jonson has become virtually ubiquitous thanks to a steady stream of anthemic insta-classics; last October, with perhaps half a dozen new records hitting the market, he peppered the DJ charts in Germany’s Groove magazine as A-sides and B-sides alike rose to the top of European playlists. What’s more, Jonson–who draws from electro, techno, trance, and downbeat jazz–epitomizes crossover in an era when UK progressive house jocks cane Kompakt Speicher singles and gay circuit parties rock Roman Flügel’s “Geht’s Noch?”
Jonson’s recorded for Perlon, Sub Static, M_nus, Kompakt, The Mole’s Arbutus imprint, and his own Itiswhatitis label; has had tracks licensed everywhere from Tiefschwarz’s Misch Masch mix to Carl Craig’s The Workout; and he’s surely the only person ever to have remixed the Chemical Brothers, Swayzak, and ethno-pop sensation Nelly Furtado.
“Actually, my first release on vinyl was for her,” confirms Jonson, who turned in a drum & bass mix for the Canadian singer back in 2000. “We used to hang out and write music before she got signed.” Jonson would even back up the fellow British Columbian at her live gigs; nowadays, he’s more likely to be spotted backstage with Ricardo Villalobos or Richie Hawtin at a Berlin warehouse party. Despite his sudden ascendancy to minimal techno royalty status, though, Jonson is happy to maintain a life outside “the scene.”
“I don’t really listen to techno at home,” he says. “I prefer listening to hip-hop and R&B. In the clubs, it can be pretty interesting, but I’d say that there’s only a small amount of techno being made that I like that much.” In truth, Jonson is eager to return to his junglist roots, claiming that he’s “itching to get back into drum & bass,” specifically the mid-’90s output of outfits like Metalheadz, Moving Shadow, and V Recordings. “I’m totally behind the times,” he says, laughing.
His backwards glance isn’t unsurprising; Jonson’s techno productions sound like they could have been made any time in the past 10 or 15 years–but avoid being preciously retro. This might stem from his preferred working method: slogging it out over hardware in real time rather than getting hung up on computer-based production. This results in the exultant, sweeping productions like “Decompression” and “Love Letter to the Enemy,” drum-machine-driven monsters that sound like they’ll go on humming long after the vinyl gives out.
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