Thu 24 Jul 2014
With more than 10 years in the game, his own label – Etch Recordings – and an ever-growing reputation as one of the world’s finest techno DJs, Jon Rundell is perhaps best-known as one of the figureheads of the Intec Digital label, along with Carl Cox. The two are great friends, as well as business partners, and often spinning back to back everywhere from Space in Ibiza (where the duo featured heavily in Cox’s Music Is Revolution parties this summer), to the Mixmag offices in London.
Here’s Carl Cox on Jon Rundell, speaking to Resident Advisor: “Jon’s a jewel in the crown. He’s really great with the crowd and his music. He’s been a great support to me. Put him in front of 30,000 people and he really goes for it. He naturally warms the crowds up. We always discuss what we’ll both be playing and he goes out there and does it. At the moment he’s better than most top DJs I could mention.” That was back in 2007 – since then the pair have woven their careers together even more closely, collaborating on the Pure Intec 2 compilation, and making tracks together for Intec.
On his own, Rundell has had a busy 2014 already, with the Animatronics EP on Octopus Black, The Cybernetics EP on Intec, and this month, a special mix for Fabric under his belt. With his percussive, mechanical beats receiving heavy play from Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, Ben Sims, Adam Beyer, Nic Fancuilli and others, Rundell’s star will continue to rise. We caught up with him for an exclusive chat ahead of the Intec Digital showcase on 12 September with Carl Cox, and asked him for 5 Tracks to Mix – read on, techno heads!
Hi Jon, how are you doing?
You’ve toured all around the world – who has the most up for it crowds?
I’m not just saying this but the crowds in Scotland have this unique energy to them. Constantly bouncing off the walls to the music, makes for a great atmosphere. Everyone just goes for it!
The date in September won’t be your first visit to The Arches – how was it the first time, and are you looking forward to playing in Glasgow again?
It was really good thanks, it was some time ago now, but I remember it well. I met loads of people that always come out to every party we do now there, and for that reason I’m looking forward to September and seeing them all again.
How are things going with your Etch label – what’s the next release, and have you got any new material planned there?
I’m happy for sure with the way it has gone. I set it up as an outlet to get my music heard when no one else would sign it. I believed in my music still and each EP has done well enough considering. I don’t have another release on it now until after summer as I’ve got to get back into the studio and finish off some ideas, not always easy to do while on the road so much.
You are heavily involved in helping to run Intec Digital as well – how is that going this year, and what have you got planned for the rest of 2014?
This year has seen a bit of a corner turn for us, we went all out with some big releases from Carlo Lio, Nicole Moudaber, Dosem, got a remix in from Joseph Capriati, and the momentum just took over. It definitely felt like the last 3 years of work were starting to pay off. We’ve also been doing various events in places like Space, with Awakenings, at Fabric in London, and alongside the party coming up with you we also go to Lehmann Club in Stuttgart in August. We’ve also got releases coming up from Mark Fanciulli, a new project called 999 with some special remixers coming in on that too, as well as a great 12 track project from Roel Salemink & Drumcomplex to look out for.
You used an automatically-updating USB stick to sell compilations for Intec, which was ingenious – how did you come up with the idea, and were there any challenges implementing it?
We were actually approached by a company that specialized in making them, and it was around the time me and Carl had started to embrace Pioneer’s Rekordbox to DJ with. It all just made sense really so we ran with it. There were loads of challenges as you could expect with something new and different as a release format. From the build of the back end to getting peoples heads around the idea of it. We basically wanted to give people a collectors item, so physical they could keep while the content still being digital.
You’ve become known as Carl Cox’s right hand man, and you play together a lot – what’s he like to work and hang out with?
When its about work its as professional as it gets, but will still manage to make sure we enjoy it at the same time. I’ve learnt loads from him about the art and essence of Djing in all type of situations. To hang out with, we have some really great and memorable times, especially out in Australia where we have spent most our time together at one time. We still keep on top of our music while out there but we just go off and do all kinds of things, just explore.
We loved the recent Animatronics EP - how do you decide on titles, and which labels to go with for each release?
Thanks, kind of you to say. I never have any idea what to call them to be honest. Knick Knack for example was called that after the crisps, Id finished the track and walked into a shop soon after, saw a packet, thought to myself I hadn’t seen them for a while and then it just stuck in my head so that was that. For Animatronics, it was part of a new development and evolvement in sound from last year and I was searching around for technological words, this came up in the search and means to create something robotic with an authentic life like feel, like a dinosaur you might see at a theme park.
You’ve released a wealth of EPs, but have you got any ambitions to put together a full album of your own work one day? If so, what would be the concept or plan?
I was also asked this recently, I guess people can see I’ve never done it, and like you say I’ve done plenty of EP’s and I’ve mixed compilations so this would be the next logical thing to do. I’m in a real difficult place in my head about it though to be honest. I’d like to challenge myself for it and create something where every single track in it is appreciated. No easy task. The trouble is that with the advent if downloads, unless your album is really really amazing no one listens to every single track on it. You might as well just release an EP every quarter, especially when most the ‘albums’ I see in our world are just a collection of 12 DJ friendly club tracks. That said, I will do because I will want to challenge myself and see how far I can push myself, and this will be the main reason for doing it.
When you are producing a track, what software or hardware do you begin working on initially, and what do you use to finish off and master the tracks?
I use Logic and did from the start of learning production. Its good for me as with all the travelling I can just get stuff down on my laptop and finish it off when I get home. Once I’m happy with it I take it over to Alex Tepper’s place in Dalston and we give all the tracks a really solid mixdown. I’m a big fan of the Cambridge Audio mastering plug ins. They just seem to have this power and roundness I don’t hear in may others.
You’ve been DJing for some time now – what are the most significant changes in the way things operate that have you witnessed, both in terms of technology, and the business as a whole?
There are great technological things out there though that have improved peoples lives in this business, like Rekordbox and Traktor for example. Much easier to travel with and to have plenty of options available to you to play for any occasion. The next major shift that’s already happening is the shift more and more towards streaming instead of downloading, unless you’re a DJ and want to mix the releases yourself.
Apart from Cox, which DJs do you most enjoy playing alongside, and why?
On the occasions I’ve been able to I’ve always really enjoyed Djing with Carlo Lio. We get on well and our styles compliment each other. Other DJ’s I usually get excited to be sharing a bill with include Ben Sims, Pan Pot and Joseph Capriati, for the same reasons. I’ve had the odd memorable night with Ben over the years for sure! Outside of this I recently had the honor of playing before The Chemical Brothers at Space Opening, which was unreal.
Jon Rundell’s 5 Tracks to Mix [click to open playlist]
Jon Rundell presents five tracks blowing up in his DJ sets at the moment, selected exclusively for The Arches, including tracks by Glasgow’s Harvey McKay, Gary Beck, and James Ruskin.