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Public Works & Diacritic Collective Present:
Mathew Jonson Live (Wagon Repair)
Enzo Siragusa (Fuse, London)
+ more TBA
main room / funktion one sound
Mathew Jonson really is one of a kind.
He’s developed one of the most distinctive voices in electronic dance music: when you hear one of Jonson’s tracks, you almost immediately know it’s his. And yet there’s no mistaking any given track for another.
His music offers a rare fusion of populist intensities and nuanced musicality. With a keen understanding for the needs of the dancefloor and the universal laws of house and techno, he’s thrown out the rule book time and time again, sneaking tricks learned from electro and even drum’n’bass into minimal clubs, and loading up his B-sides with tracks that do what they damned well please. (No kick drum? No problem.)
His standards for sound and presentation are exacting. Both on stage and in the studio, Jonson’s fealty to analog equipment and real-time play—as opposed to mere playback—serves as a standardbearer for a kind of electronic music that goes way beyond the drag ‘n’ drop world of digital composition. Jonson has always been eager to get his hands dirty, and the music reflects that in gnarled bass sequences and long, intuitive lines. His sounds have serious teeth.
And despite his quick ascent through the ranks of the techno elite, Jonson hasn’t just stayed personally grounded. He’s devoted much of his energy to supporting his own close musical family, both in the groups Cobblestone Jazz and the Modern Deep Left Quartet, and with his Wagon Repair label, which he cofounded with Jesse Fisk, Graham and Adam Boothby, Frank Meyerhofer and Konrad Black.
He studied classical piano as a kid, plus jazz drumming, and played drums in a marching band —thus laying both the melodic and the rhythmic cornerstones of his music today. (Plenty of musicians claim to be “classically trained,” of course, rendering the phrase all but meaningless. But here’s something you might not have known about Mathew: he’s actually begun studying piano again, which suggests a musical seriousness that’s rare in the world of auto-didact button-pushers.
Thanks to his father’s work with sound technology, he also got his hands on synthesizers at the age of 9. By the time he discovered hip-hop as a young teen, he was recreating its electro-based beats on his own rudimentary setup at home.
It was in Victoria, when he was 19, that Jonson met up with the crew that would help guide his musical trajectory: Tyger Dhula, Danuel Tate and Colin de la Plante, who were playing and DJing parties around the area. The four started playing in clubs together, an early version of the group that exists today as Cobblestone Jazz and the Modern Deep Left Quartet. (The Modern Deep Left Quartet was the original name for the foursome; after de la Plante moved to Montreal, the remaining trio carried on as Cobblestone Jazz.)
“It was all improvised,” says Jonson of the group’s early days. “We never really worked in the studio, we would just meet at the nightclub and jam. That’s how it started. We did that for quite a while, and then it morphed into a residency at a club, once every two weeks.” To keep it interesting, they would invite other musicians—on trumpet, violin, bass, sax, and rhythm sections—to join them.
After de la Plante left town, Cobblestone Jazz began focusing its efforts more squarely on the dancefloor, moving away from purely improvised sets to include composed and rehearsed passages. And Jonson gradually began honing in on his own sound, both in his productions and his DJ sets, inspired by a deeper, weirder sound that had begun filtering into the city’s techno parties.
His first record, in 2001, was the first release on the B.C. label Itiswhatitis, appropritately titled “New Identity.” Another followed in 2002, and in 2003. That year, he also made his first appearance on Perlon, “Alpine Rocket”—a track he recorded alongside Luciano during his first trip to Europe. And then, suddenly, Jonson was everywhere: Itiswhatitis, Sub Static, Arbutus, Kompakt, M_nus—and every track an anthem.
“I had all that music kind of saved up,” says Jonson, “and then, just by chance, released it all at the same time. People criticized me for it, said that it wasn’t a good idea. But it worked out for me. All the tracks did well. I wasn’t saturating the market with bad music.” He’s right there.
In 2005, Jonson co-founded Wagon Repair, and it’s been a blur since, a nonstop series of tours and recordings, solo and with his bandmates. Crucially, he moved to Berlin. Here, he and de la Plante—who moved over at the same time—have set up Cobblestone Jazz’ European headquarters, providing not only the launch pad for European tours but, more importantly, the control center for the group’s recorded activities. The studio is jawdropping, frankly: a semi-circle full of gear, from old workhorses like the 808 and 909 and SH-101 to unique beasts like their Cwejman and Roland System 100m modular system. Tate’s Rhodes piano anchors one corner of the horseshoe, and everything feeds into a massive desk where tracks are mixed and recorded in real-time. Jonson makes his own music essentially the same way—only with two hands instead of eight.
When it comes to rave culture there aren’t many artists out there who are as passionate and dedicated as Enzo Siragusa. The Londoner is the mastermind behind one of the capital’s most infamous party brands, Fuse – an event which he has used to cultivate an unmistakeable sound, attracting a loyal, dedicated following in the process. His roots lie in jungle and drum n bass, that pure, undiluted sound which sprung up from London’s inner city in the mid-nineties. Enzo still holds true to many of the aspects of 90’s UK rave culture that made it so special and carries them into his current output. So, whether he’s DJing, making beats in the studio, hosting another sell out Fuse event or letting loose on the dance floor, you can be sure it’s always fuelled by a desire to perpetuate the culture that changed his life.
As a teen in the mid-nineties Enzo was just as devoted to the dance floor as he is now. His first rave was at the legendary Sanctuary in Milton Keynes in 1993, where cult raves like Dreamscape and Helter Skelter were held on a regular basis. Enzo’s experiences there left an indelible impression on him; from the power of the music and the soundsystems, to the experience of being connected to a diverse yet unified crowd. This formed the foundation of his current ethos; maintaining an equal balance between 1) music and sound, 2) community and 3) the environment, i.e. the club itself. These three core aspects are the pillars of Fuse and Enzo’s rave philosophy and undoubtedly what have made it so successful.
A healthy obsession with music led to a very expensive vinyl addiction, and was the catalyst behind his early forays into DJing. Over 20 years on, his enthusiasm remains resolute and has helped elevate him to an impressive position, breaking into Resident Advisor’s Top 100 poll for the first time in 2015. Gigs at influential clubs like Panorama Bar in Berlin, DC10 in Ibiza, Sub Club in Glasgow, Mint Club in Leeds and Robert Johnson in Frankfurt cementing his status as a potent force in today’s scene. Stand out parties with Fuse at Space in Ibiza proved to be hugely successful and his relationship with the White Island will continue in 2016, with gigs further afield across Europe and a US debut also on the cards.
Fuse is now a part of the fabric of London’s club scene. Starting out as a cheeky Sunday after-hours, it has grown into a world-renowned party which holds true to what many refer to as a pure London sound. His meticulous attention to detail is focused mainly on the sound first and foremost. As a veteran raver, Enzo understands the effect that precision sound can have on the dance floor. If you’ve never been to Fuse before and you don’t even know who’s on the lineup, you’re sure to leave with the party etched into your memory banks forever thanks primarily to the potency of the sound.
Around the party, Enzo has built a formidable family of artists, all with a similar grounding to him. Artists who were ravers before anything else; Seb Zito, Rich NxT and Rossko are a few of the core members of the Fuse clan. By keeping this tight circle of artists representing the Fuse name, Enzo has instilled a strong identity into Fuse, which fans around the world travel to London to experience for themselves.
In line with the party brand, Enzo also heads up Fuse London and Infuse, two record labels which act as a channel for the music produced by himself and the Fuse family. Since their inception both labels have become a home for bass-heavy house works from artists including Archie Hamilton, Einzelkind, Dan Farserelli, Ben Rau and many more.
In the studio Enzo’s love for dynamic sound is also clearly evident. Heavy bass licks and crisp percussion form the foundation of his productions, which have maximum impact and blur the lines between DnB, techno and house. He collaborated with Alexkid recently on the unstoppable ‘Kilimanjaro’ project – a series of tracks built around a rib cage rattling Reese bassline, which have destroyed dance floors left, right and centre. On the solo tip, his new EP ‘Hard Steppers’ is already making waves as well as the collaborative track between him and Livio & Roby, titled ’SN Model’ on the Romanian duo’s new EP Phantom Circle. What is more, Enzo received the ultimate seal of approval late November 2016: to take part in Pete Tong’s famous BBC Radio 1 trademark, the Essential Mix. What followed was two hours of non-stop, floor-shaking house and techno, brought to you and inspired by the gritty alleyways of London’s East End, proving that hard work does pay off.
Over 20 years deep and still as passionate, enthusiastic and obsessive as ever, Enzo Siragusa continues to inject his ideals into his output. Building a community around Fuse, while maintaining a successful solo career and producing dynamic sounds in the studio. Always smiling, he’s a man who has a created a London institution and he’ll be involved with rave culture for a long time to come…