Jon Rundell is on one hell of a musical journey. Partnering up with Carl Cox to run the influential Intec label, boss of his own imprint Etch, DJing all over the place as well as finding time to release some pretty hot dancefloor killers, DJ Mag jogs on with Jon as he explains why we might not ever see an artist album any time soon...
How did you get into production and electronic music
“I really got into production out of curiosity really. There I was playing all these records and I had no real idea how they were made. It wasn’t until I moved to London that I explored it more, using an engineer at first to help me get the ideas down I could hear in my head. I did this for quite a few years until I just took the leap one day, bought Logic and sat there for a few years learning how to use it.”
Give us a rundown of your current studio set-up?
“My set-up at home is pretty basic. I have my souped-up Mac with loads of plug-ins and extra firepower, with Logic running on it, with a Mackie 8 channel desk that I run my HR824 monitors through, via a Focusrite Sapphire soundcard. It’s more than enough for home. I tend to get ideas down on the road on my laptop then bring them back here to arrange them fully.
I’ll then head over to Alex Tepper’s studio in Dalston and we go through each part of each track and give them a really solid mix-down. It’s so important to do this in order to get the tracks sounding as powerful as they can on a club soundsystem, I just can’t do the mix-downs at home due to the dynamics of the room it’s all set-up in.”
How do you work in the studio?
“It’s been some time since I’ve done a proper full day in the studio. With everything going on with the label I tend to deal with all that most of the day, and then once the evening comes my creative side kicks in and I’ll sit there for a good five hours at least, sometimes more, it just depends on how things are flowing or not. I’ve tried before to just have a music day but it just never happens, I guess I’m too responsible for too many things at the moment for it to be any other way.”
Are you quite hands-on in the production process?
“Absolutely, I start with a blank page and create and write all the tracks. From time to time though when I’m in with Alex, we start to hear things that don’t fit or that the track needs and then adjustments are made.
I always have a clear idea on things though. Alex has just got a load of analogue kit into the studio too, so I’m sure I’ll end up messing around on them and seeing what comes out at some point.”
Have you got any tips on producing great tracks?
“I always, always get my kick sounding strong first, and then move to the bassline. If I can get these sitting together nicely then I’ll move onto the rest of the track. I sometimes take off a little db on the kick as well, this helps it pop through the bassline, it just depends on the kick itself. I tend to use side-chain quite a lot too; generally it really helps give my tracks this swing to them that fits my groove-based style.”
What software are you using for producing?
“I’ve only ever used Logic, it was what everyone around me was using at the time when I made the decision to start trying to make music myself. I’m in the middle of getting to grips with Ableton at the moment as well. Since Live 9 came out it seems to have taken on a new life with its sound output. I keep going to do all the Logic shortcuts in it though, and hitting brick walls, so I just need to keep at it and learn the Ableton ones more.”
What projects are you currently working on?
“I’ve just finished some new tracks, one is quite house/tech-based, another a bit more pumping with more energy to it, and two other tracks that I can only really describe as ghetto techno I guess, both really jacking and grooving with a hip-hop influence to them.”
When can we expect your debut artist album?
“I’ve never written one as yet, but perhaps next year I will, in order to challenge myself again. Things have changed so much now with artist albums, and unless I make something where people can appreciate every single track, then I’m not sure it’s worth it. With our music being more DJ friendly people tend to just write 12 club tracks and then maybe two connect, and people run with those. Seems a bit pointless to me, surely it's better off just releasing tracks as two-three track EPs every quarter instead?”
Do you incorporate technology into your DJ sets?
“I use USB sticks with Pioneer’s Rekordbox, with three or four CDJs. I find it helps me feel like I’m actually manipulating the music whilst still embracing technology. It also makes it much, much easier when travelling, going to and from various clubs. I did use Traktor for about a year a while back but when Rekordbox came out I much preferred the idea of putting a USB into a CDJ rather than messing around in the dark with cables while the other DJ was still trying to play, setting up my gear. Much less stressful, and I’m more relaxed which means I’ll play better.”
How is your label Etch going?
“It’s going good thanks. I set it up as an outlet for my own music, as I was sending tracks off to labels and no one was really biting. I still believed in them and thought this was the best way to get them out there and also connect with people. For the future, it’ll be more of the same and as my sound evolves and develops so will Etch as a result of that. There are no grand plans for world domination or anything like that, just an outlet to express myself.
You’ve had a very busy year so far
“Yeah summer was a busy time with European festivals and clubs like Awakenings and Tomorrowland, and lots of outdoor parties in Spain and in Italy. Ibiza was a key place for me this year, Intec went back to Space for a label party and I was playing with Carl throughout July and September. We also had our first-ever Intec party at Lehmann Club in Stuttgart a few months back in August.
Right in amongst all that I did a tour of South and Central America for two weeks taking in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Of course there is the label to take care of and we also have some great releases coming up on Intec from the likes of Mark Fanciulli, 999, Roel Salemink & Drumcomplex and more.”