Wednesday, 28 July 2010
INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCER REMIXER DJ JONNY MONTANA
Where were you born ?
I was born in the Steel City (Sheffield)
Where did you grow up ?
I grew up in Sheffield and lived here until i was 17 years old. I joined the Parachute Regiment soon after and stayed with the regiment for over 5 years. I was injured while on active service which led to a medical discharge. I then moved back to Sheffield until 1998 when i relocated to Ibiza and lived there for 4 years. I moved back to Sheffield and have been here since.
What were your earliest musical influences ?
I got into soulful music obsessively in the late 80's via the acid jazz scene listening to bands like Galliano, JTQ, Stone cold boners, D-Influence, Incognito, Urban Species, Young disciples, etc.
Did you grow up in the club scene?
I had a flutter when i was really young from 16 to 17 years old in 1989, right before joining the army. Then as soon as i got out up until going to Ibiza in 1998 i was pretty heavily involved going to places like Hard times, Back 2 Basics (Leeds) and Love 2 B in Sheffield. It was the explosion of the US house sound. When all the clubs started to bring over the US DJ's on a regular basis.
How did you get into DJ'ing ?
I bought some decks in 93 and starting to lean how to blend records. I played out a few times up until going to Ibiza but nothing regular. I did a fair bit of playing out in Ibiza, just the bars really as the music i was playing was classed as down-tempo. Places like the Base Bar, Rock Bar, Manumission Hotel, Magnolia.
Who were your favourite artists back in the day ?
I was very much into the US sound so people like Smack Music, Mental Instrum, Michael Watford, MAW, Kerri Chandler, Blaze.
Were you a vinyl collector back then ?
Yeah, when i look back at how much money i actually spent on vinyl it makes me cringe! A good friend of mine had a record shop in Sheffield, so i was always down there i was a vinyl junkie. It was great waiting for the US releases to arrive on a Saturday morning. I sold most of my collection 7 years ago to fund some studio equipment and don't regret it to be honest as it would now be worth very little.
What are your all time favourite Top Ten tracks ?
This is a difficult one to be honest. I couldn't really pick just ten. Here's a few that stick in my mind for today and in no particular order:
MAW ft. James Ingram - Lean on me
Kenny Bobien - Father
MAW ft. Michael Watford - My Love
Colonel Abrams - Victim of loving you
MAW - Voices in my mind
Erro - Rok with You
Michael Proctor - Love don't live
Kerri Chandler - Atmosphere
MAW ft. India - to be in love
Alexander Hope - Dancin
When and how did you get into remixing and production ?
I was always interested in production but knew the learning curve was pretty intense and didn't really have the time. I was at a friends night in Sheffield and had a chance meeting with Groove Assassin who i didn't realise was from Sheffield. We got talking and arranged to meet up again as i wanted him to do some work for my label. He used to come over my place and he showed me how to go on. Eventually he set my studio up for me and i was lucky enough to learn everything from him over the years. He's a bit of a geek so i always go to him first:)
You have been involved in dj'ing and production,which song
do you wish you had written yourself ?
MAW ft. India - to be in love. It's just a beautiful song and has a special place in my heart. I had a rendition of this song at my wedding with Pete Simpson singing backed by my keyboard player Bennett Holland it was beautiful moment lol!
Who are other dj's that you have and do admire ?
I class Groove Assassin as my favourite DJ. He's technically very good and has a great taste in music. Also, Kerri Chandler, Frankie Feliciano, and Tony Humphries.
Talk about some of your favourite clubs and country's around the world
while you were dj'ing ?
I wasn't a jet setting DJ. I only ever played in Ibiza really. I did like the funky room in Pacha back in the day and space before the music took a turn for the worse!
Where did you draw your influences to create your unique Soulful
The jazzy sound definitely comes from the acid jazz era. The keyboard player i use is also a jazz musician and was into the acid jazz scene, so it's perfect really.
Which artist or acts would you like to produce going forward
if you could choose ?
Without doubt India would be a dream come true! I was lucky enough to remix a few of my favourite vocalists recently. Michael Watford for Soundmen on Wax and a Michelle Weeks and Byron Stingily duet. Leroy Burgess for Sedsoul. Also, a Dawn Tallman song for Mn2s. All forthcoming over the next couple of months.
What are your ten current favourite tunes ?
To be honest i don't really get to listen to much music now. I spend most of the day in the studio and i'm sick of music when the evening come around!
You have worked on remixes on many acts including
Melba Moore,Mina Jackson,Steven Stone,Stephanie Cooke,Claude Bain,Carolyn Victorian,Vick Lavender, Dolls Combers,Jannae Jordan,Justin Imperiale,Pad Beryll,J S.O.U.L etc etc do these guys fall into the soulful category that you feel you can enhance what they have,through your connection using real instruments your sound is complimented around the world at this time particularly your connection with Dolls Combers and Vick Lavender's Chicago set up ?
Well i kind of approach every remix the same. If i like the vocal and think i can add something to the package then i'll do it. Yeah, big fan of Dolls Combers and Vick. Infact just about to start a remix for Dolls Combers that is going out on Vicks label in a month.
Can you give us your thoughts on the U.K.'s very own Southport Weekender ?
I'm ashamed to say i've never been to SP. I've been meaning to go for years. It's on my list in the very near future though.
Tell us a little about your liasons with Nick Moss (Groove Assassin ) and your Camio Recordings with artists such as Reelsoul , Jihad Muhammad , Kenny Carvajal , Stacey Mallory , NJ Project , Dwayne Morgan , Deep Inc , Mario Basanova , Dom Navarro , Anto Vitale , UPZ , Fuzion , Pete Simpson & Lorraine Reid M-Sol , Dolls Combers and many more tell us about this output how did you get together and how did you move things forward together ?
Well i started the label in 2004 and the first release was by Jihad which came about through a mutual friend called Bruce Jeffers. Jihad was looking at getting this track signed which was a real jazzy number called "The Dawn." It sold really well in Japan on vinyl and was licensed twice to two compilations over there.
The Dwayne Morgan song i heard in it's original form (a live version) and got in contact with Dwayne to work out a deal for it. I had the vocals recorded again and Dwayne had Lorraine Reid do some backing vocals on it. Which was how i met her for a future solo project. I was fond of Kenny Carvajal's work on Phuturesole Recordings, so asked him to put it all together.
Pete Simpson is a good friend. The track he did with Jon Cutler called "Runnin" was a firm favourite at the time. I found out that Pete lived in Sheffield and couldn't believe it! We got in touch and have been friends since.
Everyone else you mentioned were producers i was feelin at the time and wanted to work with, so just contacted them and worked something out.
Nick Moss helped me with the label. We run it together for a few years - but it's taken a bit of a back seat since the production has took hold.
You work now with Craig Stewart what are your individual roles ?
Yeah, been working with Craig alot recently - infact weve done about 50 remix projects. He lives in Manchester and comes over my studio once a week. I do all the hands on production and Craig comes up with some really good idea's.
What do you feel about House Music in 2010 and where its headed ?
Well, it really is hard to make much out of house music these days. Advance payments are available via some of the bigger labels but everyone is feelin the pinch due to the illegal download situation.
What are your views on the advent of downloads and sites like Traxsource and Juno is this an improvement on the days of vinyl ?
Traxsource is a great outlet for house music. It enables producers to get their work out there to the public without a great deal of financial outlay. It's by no way an improvement from days of vinyl though in my opinion. Talking from a label point of view, music is so easily available to download for free. Sales are effected in a major way. The only people who pay for music are the people that respect the artist and label for the hard work put in. It's not free to make music when you use professional musicians and vocalists. On the other hand i can't really chastise anyone for downloading music for free if it's there right in front of their faces. Before the CD deck came out the only way of getting hold of the new jamz were on vinyl, so as you can imagine sales were ten fold and then some.
What's in the future for Jonny Montana ?
I'm continuing working with Craig on a number of remix projects. We've also started doing original productions with Dawn Tallman, Pete Simpson, Sofia Rubina, Diviniti, Stef Cooke and Kafele, so keep an eye out for those.
I'm also working on a number of solo remix projects for Nervous Records and various labels.
Thanks for your time Jonny all the best for the future there are certainly many of us feeling your tunes at the moment some quality 21st Century Soul !!!
You can catch up with a huge amount of Jonny's great work at Traxsource follow this link !