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DMC Champion DJ Jon1st Interview

jon 1st

2013 World DMC Online DJ Champion Jon Furst Interview

Jon Furst is one of the hottest names on the block at the minute after winning the online World DMC DJ Championships and he is very much in demand. So when we managed to grab some of his time to put an interview together we jumped at the chance.

LM: What is your Dj name?
JF: I use the name ‘Jon1st’ – it’s an obvious and terrible pun on my real name!

LM: How old are you?
JF: I’m 24

LM: Where were you born?
JF: I was born in London

LM: Where did you grow up?
JF: I grew up in South West London and lived there until I started further education when I was 18.

LM: Why did you move to Leicester?
JF: I moved to Leicester to study at the University of Leicester when I was 19 and have continued to live in Leicester since graduating. I spent pretty much all my free time at university pursuing music and by the time I graduated I found I had happened to be playing enough gigs in the midlands to live off it, so I decided to stay in the area so I could continue pursuing working on music full time. I’d also made loads of great friends here as a student, so it felt right.

LM: What did you study at Uni?
JF: I studied a BA in English Literature and American Studies.

LM: Do you have any music related qualifications?
JF: I have a Higher Diploma in Music Production from the ACM in Surrey, which I studied for between A levels and my degree.

LM: How old where you when you began to express an interest in music?
JF: When I was 12 or 13 or so I started messing around on very basic music production software for fun. It wasn’t until I heard ‘proper’ scratching that I knew I really took an interest.

LM: How did you get into turntablism?
JF: The main track that triggered my interest was the b-side of a single by the X-Ecutioners, a track called ‘X-Ecution of a Bum Rush’, when I was 13. I remember listening to it on loop, having no idea how they were making the sounds (this was pre-YouTube!) but wanting to emulate those sounds myself and I became hooked about learning how those sounds were made.

LM: When did you begin DJ-ing?
JF: With the very kind support of my parents I bought a pair of second hand decks when I was 15. At this point I wasn’t interested in being a traditional DJ and playing records for people to dance to, I just wanted to learn how to scratch and build a record collection of music I liked, possibly with intention of performing as part of a band. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started DJing in the traditional sense. I had my first proper DJ gigs just after I finished my A-levels, when I was 18.

LM: Who are your musical influences?
JF: I’m influenced by a wide range of musicians. I’m of course influenced by turntablists, battle DJs and club DJs as what I do is directly linked to them – some of these include Kentaro, Craze, Dstyles, Mr Thing, Buddy Peace, Mr Dibbs and Kutmah- but a lot of my influences are also from the music I play out in my sets and music I listen to at home, not just dance music.

LM: When did you first realise that you wanted to begin performing in front of live audiences?
JF: I was offered my first proper club gig for a hip hop night called Braille in Kingston Upon Thames just after I finished my a-levels. I’d built up a friendship with a couple of the members of staff at my local shop in Kingston called Banquet Records- through chatting we realised we liked a lot of similar music and one day they asked me to play for them. I practiced really hard for the gig and ended up really enjoying it, so I kept doing it while I was studying music production in Guilford and when I moved to Leicester.

LM: What music did you grow up listening to?
JF: The first artist I remember really enjoying was Bob Marley when I was really young (I must have been 4 or 5), but after then I didn’t really have a big interest in music until I was 11 or 12 or so when I discovered popular rock music. As I discovered scratching and started buying records, I began digging a bit deeper and took up an interest in learning more about hip hop and through recommendations I discovered more leftfield music like DJ Shadow, Portishead, Prefuse 73, Sixtoo and 2tall when I was 15 or so, which shaped my taste for what I like listening to and playing out now. I was also really into post hardcore, math-rock and post rock as a teenager too and took up guitar for a while, but scratching always came much more naturally for me.

LM: How did you develop such a unique style to your DJ-ing?
JF: In terms of the way I scratch and mix, if I do have my own style it’s probably due to spending a lot of time practicing and spending a lot of time listening to a variety of music from different genres and taking influence from a lot of them.

LM: Have your family been supportive with your music?
JF: They’ve always been really supportive and encouraging but have also made sure I had a proper education, which although slowed my musical development down a bit as I had a pretty intense degree to work on, also made me hungry to work really hard on music during my free time too. They were also really supportive of me studying my higher diploma in music before attending university too. So very supportive!

LM: What is you biggest musical achievement to date?
JF: In terms of battling, definitely my DMC Online win as it’s the first title I’ve won as well as being my first World title. Outside of battling I’d say the opportunities I’ve had to open up for acts I love. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do this a few times over the last few years. Some notable ones include DJ Craze, Africa Hitech and MF Doom.

LM: How did it feel to win online DMC?
JF: Amazing! I’ve been watching and attending DMC events for nearly 10 years, so to be a part of them is a big thing for me. Battle DJs put in months of practice every year to get to competition standard, so it was a great result after 3 years putting a lot of effort and time into developing routines (on top of the 6 years previous to that developing my skill set). I’ve also qualified for the world finals of their live competition too, so I still have more practice to go!

LM: Where do you hope it will take you?
JF: These days I’m mainly a club DJ playing underground beats and bass led dance music (I incorporate scratching into this too). I’m hoping the battles will bring me some more attention and will lead to more people being aware of my sets, and lead me to playing more events and festivals.

LM: What are your future musical ambitions?
JF: Hopefully to keep doing what I’m doing at the moment but expand my skill set and hopefully play music for people I’ve not played to before. I’m looking forward to dedicating more time to producing music of my own too.

LM: Finally, what other things do you do to help promote yourself and your musical career?
JF: I organise a club night called DROP at Sophbeck Sessions on King Street in Leicester city centre. It’s usually every first Friday of the month and is dedicated to beats and bass music. During term time I book touring DJs to play at the night. Some of these have included Om Unit, Mr Thing, Slugabed, LV, Mosca, ARP101, Kidkanevil, DJ Vadim, Alexander Nut and Deft. The next night (which actually is an exception to the first Friday of the month slot) is on Friday 11th October with Kutmah from Los Angeles, Danny Breaks from London, Freddi Maze from Leicester and some secret special guests!

You can check out DJ Jon 1st’s world champion winning routine below. You can also visit his website via the Link and also check his Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Photographer Hari Datta Visit his website

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