Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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Jonas Blue

In an era of slow-building careers, Jonas Blue is an anomaly. In just two years, the double Brit Award nominee has become a pop powerhouse, a globally-successful songwriter, producer and performer with more than 3 billion streams and 21 million singles sales to his name.

Since his reboot of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car exploded around the world in 2016, Jonas Blue – aka Essex-born Guy Robin – has proved a musician with a Midas touch. Four further consecutive hits, all originals, two of them Top 5 single in the UK, have sealed his position as Britain’s brightest new artist and one of pop’s most in-demand producers. Having helmed Craig David’s recent hit Heartline, Jonas Blue now splits his time between producing his own material and penning hits for other artists.

It’s not only the speed of his ascent that’s striking, however. In a scene awash with A-list guests, Jonas Blue’s choice of singers has helped him stand out. His spectacular success has come in part from his talent for spotting rising stars who had barely been heard of when the records were released – among them Raye on By Your Side, Dakota on Fast Car, JP Cooper on the platinum-selling Perfect Strangers, Australian YouTuber William Singe on summer anthem Mama and South London-based Afrobeat musician Moelogo on current smash We Could Go Back, a nostalgic song about lost love that adds guitars to his signature melodic sound.

“I’ve been lucky to discover some amazing new artists at just the right time,” says Guy. “I heard Dakota by chance, singing in a bar, when I was searching for someone to front Fast Car. JP sent me a chorus for Perfect Stranger after overhearing the instrumental at my record label. Moelogo happened to live round the corner from where I wrote We Could Go Back. Someone suggested getting him in for the demo and the moment I heard his voice I got goosebumps. As strange as it sounds, I sometimes feel as though the universe is sending me singers.”

Jonas Blue is working on a collaboration with the American singer and former Disney actress Sabrina Carpenter called ‘Alien’, but despite famous names now knocking on his door, he continues to search for new talent.

“If a great song opens the door for a new artist, even better,’ Guy says. ‘Some of the singers I’ve worked with, like Raye and JP, I was on bills with at festivals last summer. That’s lovely to see.”

A naturally-gifted musician who played flute and saxophone in primary school, Guy set his sights on becoming a producer aged 11, when he built his first studio in his Essex bedroom. At 13, he was producing sessions with singers, one of whom won a competition to record at Abbey Road’s Studio 2 and took Guy along as his engineer.

“It was meant to be for one day, but it turned in to a week,” recalls Guy. “It was an amazing experience that taught me so much. I could feel the spirit in that room. I kept in touch with some of the engineers who gave me advice. In fact, I’m still in touch with them today.

Buoyed by his first professional session, Guy persuaded his dad to help him turn their tiny garage in to a proper studio. Incredibly, until recently, it was where he continued to work and where all of his huge hits to date have been produced.

“I’d probably still be there, were my dad not selling the house,” says Guy. “I do need a bigger studio and I’m building one at my own place, but that garage will always be with me. I never want to lose the mentality that I had as a 16 year old, when I’d stay up all night making music and sleep for a couple of hours on the sofa when the sun came up. I love the state of mind where all that matters is the music.”

To repay his dad for the recording equipment, Guy started DJ’ing. His first gig, aged 11, at a Halloween party, paid him £50. At 15, he got his first residency in a local bar by lying about his age.

Bizarrely, his DJ aspirations were ignited by a TV series about holiday reps in Ibiza.

“I was obsessed with a show called Club 18-30 Reps,” he laughs. “It was like a reality show, but I didn’t care about the people partying. It was when the camera panned to the DJs – Erick Morillo, Carl Cox, David Guetta on the terrace at Space – that I knew I wanted to be a DJ. Seeing how they changed the atmosphere in a room with a record was so exciting. Back then, you couldn’t watch DJ sets on the internet. For me, it was the Reps or MTV.”

By 12, Guy was making his own beats to mix in to his DJ sets and at 16, in thrall to Max Martin, he self-released his debut single, Angel Of Love, which became a surprise hit in South Africa. At 18, he was releasing records under various guises on Defected and Chase & Status’ label MTA.

His Jonas Blue guise was born in the summer of 2015 as a tribute to his mum, whose favourite song when he was a kid was Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. For her, he made his own version, one he could slip in to his DJ sets. Several months later, after failing to find a guest singer, he discovered Dakota and decided to release the song under a new name.

“It was so different, so much poppier than anything I’d previously released,” says Guy. “I initially thought it would be a one-off so I needed a new name. I was listening to a lot of Scandinavian house at the time, hence Jonas. Blue because I liked the idea of a colour. I was almost Jonas Green.”

Fast Car’s success was instant. Over Christmas 2015, it topped the charts in Australia. Over the following months, the summery song caught on across the world, going platinum in the States and double platinum in Britain. Guy’s first ever gig as Jonas Blue was in front of 100,000 people in Mexico City.

“Until we toured, I honestly had no idea how huge Fast Car had become,” says Guy. “In Mexico, there was a moment when I blocked out the sound and just stared at the crowd, which disappeared in to the distance. That moment changed my life. It changed my outlook and my ambition. I knew I never wanted to come down from that feeling and, nearly two years later, I never have.”

After a packed summer of live shows including a residency in Ibiza (alongside shows at Ushuaia and Pacha), a sold out Ministry of Sound gig in September for his first Electronic Nature party, tours in Brazil and Asia and a stand out performance at London’s SW4 festival, Jonas Blue will play his biggest UK club show to date at Electric Brixton on March 10th.

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