Jon Rundell

Jon Rundell: “I am provoking some form of rebellion”

Esteemed DJ and producer Jon Rundell has had heads turning with his new pioneering approach to music distribution. Increasingly frustrated with the underground music industry’s general resistance to change, he announced last month he was ditching the traditional DJ-only focused way of releasing music, in favor of multi-platform streaming and free downloads. He’s also giving away the parts to each track for people to try their hand at remixing it themselves.

The debut release ‘Poetry’ via his own revived record label ETCH kicked off Rundell’s industry-challenging endeavor and provoked some interesting discussions on social media both for and against. The latest single ‘Can’t Stop’, dropped on 22nd September and continues this new direction, however this time with a twist – aiming to practice what he’s preaching, Rundell has remixed one of his own previous hits by stripping it back to the individual parts and starting again.

We caught up with Jon to get the full details on this new venture, and hear how the project is going.

EG: While other producers fret over fans getting their sticky fingers on their music without paying, you’ve decided to give yours away, starting with your recent release of ‘Poetry’. Tell us what kickstarted this radical shift in music distribution for you.

Jon Rundell: I’ve seen music streaming revenue increase a lot in the last two years and download sales decrease a fair amount so I decided to actually talk and listen to the current generation of clubber and find out more about how they were listening to music, and this was it; so it made sense to do something about it. I’d like my music to actually be heard at the end of the day otherwise what’s the point of making it?

Stream & Download ‘Poetry’ below.

EG: What has been the reaction of fans, critics, and industry figures so far? Are you seeking controversy, provoking rebellion, or just trying a new way of working?

Jon Rundell: A mixture as expected, some like it some don’t. Some people in the industry seem afraid of change and seem to want to argue for something that isn’t bringing them a good enough return which does confuse me, but it’s up to them. Maybe they just need to actually take a moment to see what is going on and what’s available to them out there. It has caused a few discussions though and that’s not happened when I’ve released music before, so that’s a good thing to me, I’ve been enjoying going online and chatting with everyone about it. I wasn’t looking for controversy, it’s not controversial. I’m not the first person to do this, look at what’s going on with Hip Hop. I am provoking some form of rebellion though, and saying you don’t have to keep doing it the same way the majority of the industry says you do if it’s not actually working anymore. The younger generation of music listeners are thankfully enjoying the idea so far and to be honest they are more important to me than any of the industry itself.

EG: Your new track ‘Can’t Stop’ is now available, streaming free of course, on Soundcloud, Spotify and Youtube, and you are also releasing the parts of it separately. Tell us about the track, a remix in itself, and why you are splitting your releases like this.

Jon Rundell: I thought I should do what I’m offering for people to do with my music myself. Lead by example basically. I’d always thought about doing a mix of it anyway at some point just to see if I could remix my own track and make it sound totally different. I thought it would be cool in this more sharing online world to make the parts available and if I hear anything I think is good I’ll release it, it’s a win-win really and helps the scene move forward. I only release one track at a time as there doesn’t seem any point to release two or three each time and then people only focus on one anyway so the others get lost. The main focus is making each track as good as I can so they are all get listened to each time they are released.

“The younger generation of music listeners are thankfully enjoying the idea so far and to be honest they are more important to me than any of the industry itself”

EG: Has this new way of sharing your music had an effect on how you go about producing new work? Is there a change in your sound or style and is that coincidence or part of the new phase in your career? 

Jon Rundell: No, I’ve always focused on making as good a quality music as I can, regardless of how I release it. It is and always should be the most important factor. Most of my tracks so far rarely all sound like each other anyway but there is always a groove, that’s my thing I guess. It would have been really easy to knock up another ‘Knick Knack’ but that wouldn’t have been a challenge really and I wouldn’t have progressed my skills further. I have, to be fair, always focused on not sounding the same as everyone else too, I don’t see the point in that either.

EG: You play a lot of gigs worldwide, constantly traveling. How do you manage to fit in music production with touring?

Jon Rundell: I focus on it during certain times of the year, mainly winter, and get down around 100 ideas and then work on what I feel are the best 20/30, and then scrap the rest. Summer is difficult to find focused time as there are more events going on, and well its summer so who wants to be inside a hot room all day anyway!

EG: Do you craft your sets to reflect the audience, the club or festival, or the local culture at all? How much weight do you give by the reaction of the crowd?

Jon Rundell: I definitely craft a set so that it builds; I usually start lower or deeper and build the energy until the end of the set. That’s easier to do in clubs than it is large clubs or festivals. I do always adapt to what’s happening in front of me though, that’s part of the art of DJing for me. I tend to concentrate a lot while I play, flicking through tracks to choose to play, looking around all areas of the club to see how people are reacting, that’s important, and then mixing something in. It doesn’t leave much time for Jesus poses but then I’ve never been that kind of guy anyway.

Stream and download ‘Can’t Stop’ below.

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