We spoke to chart-topper Jonas Blue about his musical upbringing, the importance of streaming and his new-found fame.
Date published: 17th Feb 2017
Just over 12 months ago the name Jonas Blue was virtually unknown to most, but with the stratospheric release of his remix of the timeless Tracy Chapman track 'Fast Car', he became a household name in the world of pop and crossover dance music as the record charted even higher than the original.
Hailing from Essex, Jonas Blue (real name Guy James Robin) has a real penchant for creating tracks which fit not only the dancefloor, but the airwaves, with his 'tropical' laced offerings like 'Perfect Strangers' and 'By Your Side' proving insanely popular with a wider, party-loving audience.
We caught up with the producer sensation ahead of a festival appearance at We Are FSTVL this summer to talk more about dance music's place in the mainstream, the success of 'Fast Car', streaming and much more.
Hi Jonas, you've been nominated for two Brit Awards which amazing news, how does it feel to be up for such a prestigious accolade?
It feels amazing. To be a new British artist and still essentially within my first year to be nominated for 2 Brit Awards is such an achievement for me. For me the Brit Awards is such an important part of British Music so to be nominated twice I was over the moon!
It seems that now more than ever dance music is crossing over into the main stream, with more tracks taking influence from older sounds and samples being used, why do you think that is?
I think it’s just a case of people hearing their old favourite songs in a new light. For me 'Fast Car' was one of them songs that was such a staple of a classic from my childhood that I always wanted to play it within my DJ sets however it heard how it needed to be changed and updated to work for today.
As a producer and songwriter, do you feel like you can avoid the full-on fame that comes for artists who sing/appear as the focal point on stage?
Well I believe that the DJ / producer is the new rock star of today. I personally love all the fame that comes with it so I wouldn’t look to avoid it at all. However I do feel that the traditional artist or singer is still looked at as more important even though the likes of people such as myself and Calvin Harris are topping the charts and we’re still looked at as very secondary.
You're originally from Essex, what was your musical upbringing there?
I originally started when I was 7/8 years old then got into DJing around the age of 11. Around that time I realised I wanted to make the music I was DJing so that’s how it all started. I know that a lot of Essex people are generally into soul, funk, RnB and that was the same around my home when I was growing up. My dad would be constantly playing soul and jazz etc. and I think that has inspired me very much into what I am doing today.
What was the process behind 'Fast Car', when did you first cover it and when did you know it was going to take off?
I had wanted to cover it for years but for me it was one of those songs that shouldn’t be taken on lightly. So I waited a long time until the right inspiration came and that was August 2015 I had a light bulb moment and realised how everything needed to sound and where I was going to go with it in terms of production. When it was released, it was Australias Christmas number 1 which was insane! From there it just spiralled into a global hit all around the world.
Having reached 1 billion streams for your track and videos, how important do you think streaming is to audiences these days, and how do you think that popularity affects artists?
For my audience in particular it’s very important as they and I come from the streaming world. Most of all my fans listen to my music via streaming and have done since the start. I think streaming has opened up doors for a lot of artists and the platforms have made it easier for everyone to have access to great music. It’s only going to get bigger and better!
When you play a DJ set, what can people expect from the music you play? Is it very similar to your own tracks or can it go more underground?
It’s a mixture of sound really but the one thing that remains throughout my whole set is melody. Which is the same when I’m in the studio. For me melody is key. So it can go from really clubby to underground melodic dance music.
What top 5 tracks are you listening to the most at the moment?
The xx - 'Dangerous'
Bruno Mars - 'Finesse'
Childish Gambino - 'Redone'
DJ Snake Feat. Justin Bieber - 'Let Me Love You'
Redondo - 'White Keys'
What's upcoming for you in 2017?
I bringing the live show with a full band to certain key shows throughout the year as well as releasing 3 singles, DJing all throughout the year and bringing the album our towards the end of the year / early next year! So lot’s of exciting things to come.