With the release of his new mixtape album, Sine & Moon, dropping earlier this week, I caught up with Jonti to talk about his signing to Stones Throw, the Australian electronic music scene, and his highlights of the past year and plans for 2012.
Well first up, how was your Christmas and New Year? You played the No Years Festival in Brisbane – how was that?
Yeah, that was awesome. It was really cool – I was in the States and I just came back. I didn’t know what to expect, but yeah, it was pretty wild. We had heaps of fun.
I’m sure this gets brought up all the time, but you’ve had a few name changes over the years. Do you think you’re now settling into Jonti? Do you see yourself as Jonti?
Yeah, I think Jonti will be the base name now. I’ll settle with that.
Things started picking up for you internationally when you got the chance to record with Mark Ronson. How was working with Santigold, Sean Lennon, etc.?
Yeah, that was awesome. You know, it was pretty surreal – just like a small town dude flown to New York. It was really awesome collaborating with those guys, and just seeing the whole process. I was like really thrown in the deep end, collaborating and recording at Electric Lady Lamp – it was a great experience.
Now that you’ve been touring a lot lately, do you now see yourself as more of a producer or a performer?
I never intended to be a performer so it was definitely an uphill struggle to figure out how to do it. But recently, it’s been really fun. I’ve been enjoying it a lot, but it certainly took a few years to get to this stage. I never knew how to do it, because the music wasn’t intended to be live. I tried it with a band, and with all different types of scenarios, but it never really came alive. But yeah, eventually I just started to have more fun with it and I’m now enjoying it a lot.
So you’ve obviously spent a lot of time overseas – with the competition, touring, and then of course with Stones Throw. First, how has living overseas compared to home for you? And secondly, how exactly did the signing to Stones Throw come about?
Being in LA – that’s like a dream come true. You know, just being at the Stones Throw offices and at a little studio there. It’s a Nash neighbourhood – like kind of small Mexican town – and Madlib’s studio is across the street and just seeing him is like incredible. I guess it all came about because I started doing these little songs, and they started getting around. I then thought it’d be cool to get them mastered, and make a little album three years ago. So I sent them to Elysian Mastering and they liked it and passed it onto Peanut Butter Wolf, and he was like “yeah, I’ll release it”. But compared to back home, there’s pros and cons. I mean, when I got back, I stayed with my Mum and Dad and just chilled out in like a forest area and got to work. But, you know, then there’s LA. It’s all pros and cons.
You’ve had Twirligig completed since 2009, yeah? The album obviously spent a lot of time in review. Have you always had a favourite track or do you have one currently?
Yeah, I guess it will always change. I mean, it’s been weird because everyone’s favourites have been like definitely the songs I didn’t think would be favourites at all. The songs I really like are the title track, Twirligig, Begone Slumber, and Frightened Mice.
What does your recording process involve? Which programs did you use in recording Twirligig?
It was pretty ghetto. It was just like, you know, a little laptop. I didn’t really have a very good sound card at the time. I was just using an SB-303 and I had a mixer. So yeah, pretty ghetto.
What are your thoughts on the Australian electronic music scene? I mean, obviously it’s expanding, particularly in Sydney. Do you have any favourite emerging bands?
Well yeah, it’s been really exciting, especially in the past few years. There’s a lot of really great acts coming out of the Astral People Collective, like Dro Carey, Collarbones, Albatross, Preacher, and Polographia. Also, obviously like Seekae, and yeah, there’s just been a lot of exciting stuff.
I take it you’re looking forward to playing Laneway this year? Any acts in particular you’re interested in seeing yourself?
I played it once under Danimals but like hadn’t really figured everything out and it was like really really not right. So, yeah, I’m heaps excited for this year. I think I’ve gone every year since I’ve been in Australia, and the line-up is incredible. I’m really looking forward to Bullion, Cults, Feist, SBTRKT, and Toro y Moi. It’s a really great line-up.
What’s your highlight of the past year? And what’s your plan for 2012?
Well the highlight was definitely releasing the album. In terms of an actual moment, it’d be playing this club in LA called Low End Theory. It was an amazing experience. And yeah, I’ve got a lot of stuff coming up. This week, in fact, we’re releasing a free mixtape album called Sine & Moon on Stones Throw. Then also, later in the year, I’ll be releasing another album, TokoRats, and then some stuff with The Avalanches, which I’m really excited about. But it’s still early days with that – so don’t want to jinx it. And yeah, I’m still just writing stuff here and there.
You can download Sine & Moon for free over at Stones Throw.