Interview with Jon Rundell
Best known as one half of house and techno’s most formidable double acts, Jon Rundell has come a long way since delivering papers to save up for his first set of decks. Almost seven years after legend Carl Cox described him as ‘better than most top DJs’, Jon has since held residencies at the biggest clubs in the world, remixed countless hits, spearheaded Pure Intec’s label re-launch and helped push the musical boundaries of the genre.
I caught up with the Brighton-born DJ following his latest EP release, TECHNOCRAT, to chat about his year, how he broke into the industry and where he thinks the genre is heading.
How was your summer, what have you been up to?
It was great thanks. We did our first stand alone event at Space for Intec which went very well, before making appearances there for the Revolution party. On the festival front, we had a great time at Tomorowland, Global Gathering, Electrobeach and Aquasella as well as some really cool experiences in Tokyo & South America when we went there for the first time.
Tell us a little bit about your musical journey
I started very young as a teenager into US hip hop before I discovered the tail end of the UK rave scene. It was the energy in the movement that got me hooked and once I discovered the techno side to it there was no turning back. I guess meeting Carl some time before we began to work together was a key moment and then to actually work together now in the way we do has been fantastic. I never take anything for granted but I do sometimes reflect to myself after some experiences and think ‘wow did that really just happen!’
Over the last four years I’ve really tried to hone my production to a point where it’s appealing to more people. It’s quite a broad range of DJs when you think about it – they all play very differently and they all represent the spectrum of what we do in the Tech House and Techno scene.
You’re known as a remixer, what’s the creative process like for you, from getting the first brief to the final production?
It’s very different each time. I used to think that people would ask you for a mix based on what they already knew about you and what you did – within our own scene that’s certainly true and you’re kind of left to your own devices. I think most people now trust me to go away and put enough into it to send them back something at a level they were expecting, which they can then get behind.
Sometimes there’s been a few cases where I’ve come up with something and it hasn’t been well received but that’s the way it goes and I will go back to the drawing board to try something else. It might be then that I’ll take all the parts out and it gets turned into an original track somewhere down the line.
Sometimes you get a briefing from a major record company – that’s often when they want to tweak it all the time and go back and forth, back and forth. It can make the creative process a little harder, and doesn’t feel as natural, but it’s good to be challenged like that and good to see how far you can push your own skills.
If I could remix any song at the moment it would probably be something that I could really challenge myself with. Not an obvious techno classic as I’ve done in the past, but maybe a band. I’m a big fan of Kasabian so they would be top of that list for me.
Talking of challenges and successes, we’ve got to talk about ‘Man Alive’. How did it feel?
It was weird! It was one of my earliest remixes actually, and I was only just finding my feet and feeling confident enough that people would be playing my music. The original track was a classic – I had it in my collection, so I didn’t have to hesitate when asked and just made the record. When I delivered it to them, I had no idea how it’d go down and how it’d be received. It was surreal, but also very pleasing that there were so many people out there that were into it. I wasn’t sure actually, I thought it could’ve kicked in a bit better!
It kind of climbed steadily for a couple of weeks before crossing over into the mainstream, and I was like “wow!”. I didn’t know what to think as it stayed there for quite a while, but then I felt the pressure after that with the next original record. I think you put yourself under pressure; I don’t think anyone else does.
Tell us a bit about Intec.
Intec first began in 1999, and I jumped on board some time later. We took a bit of a break for a few years and came back as Intec Digital after we started getting records sent to us that we felt we could really get behind in a much bigger way than just playing them in the clubs. Pure Intec Two came about as we had all these tracks we were itching to get people to hear, and some years back the label had done Pure Intec so it made sense to showcase the tracks in a continuation of this series.
What’s the Techno scene like in the UK at the moment?
It’s in a strong place, especially in London where I am based. From the bigger warehouse parties to the smaller East London events, the capital is really supporting the sound. We did an Intec party on Thursday night in fabric in October and it was packed to the rafters. With such a diverse amount of people in the city it really helps. Elsewhere in the UK cities like Manchester and the Warehouse Project represent our music greatly.
Outside of the UK, South America is musically very strong for what we do thanks to the people that have been out there before for so many years, opening up doors for people like me. There’s such a big techno fan-base of people so it’s great!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
For anyone wishing to become involved I would say concentrate on your skills first, and practice, practice, practice. Then create an opportunity to play and let your skill do the talking as oppose to your mouth. There is too much hype out there now and it’s hard to believe everything you hear. You have to be very focused to do this, it takes over your life so be prepared for that too!
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