Local Produce: Jonte

Local Produce: Jonte

Back in high school and my first few years of varsity, I really wanted to be in one of those bands that would play gigs every other Saturday and pull in hundreds of people every time. So, I started one. We would practise every weekend, but it never amounted to anything, even though we played for years. It never happened for two reasons: Firstly, we were rubbish. Mostly though, we just didn’t ask for anything, be that gigs, people to like our Facebook, or listen to our rough-as-guts demos. This is what I think we can all learn from Jonte: the power of asking.

Jonte released his album Delete on August 7, and shared the lead single ‘Friendzone’ with Critic to celebrate. We listened to it, and immediately knew it was something special. If you wanted the perfect soundtrack to your 3am drunk walk home, here it is. As he puts it, he writes his songs to sound “like how I felt after leaving a party”. Listening to it, the influences of Charli XCX and Sophie are clear, but he creates a sound that is uniquely his by introducing “sounds that people might not be as familiar with” into his music.

What surprised me when we met was how young he is. At 18 years old he already has two albums, four EPs, and seven singles. He began making music in Year 10 with GarageBand on the Mac at home. “Mum got a Mac for work, and I sort of claimed it as my production computer,” he admitted. He’s since been experimenting with writing and producing music, and by 2018 he was releasing music to Spotify.

Looking through his catalogue, he’s worked with quite a few other musicians already. This include the releases Melancholy and Old Routine, which features an old school friend of his, Emma Kate Newlove, and Night Time with Pim, who comes from Holland. This was another instance where Jonte sussed out how to ask for help: by asking others if they want help. “You’ve got to, sort of, be established to get help, which doesn’t make sense at all. But you don’t have to be to offer it.” That’s how his relationship with Pim started, by asking if they needed help with production, and now Pim provides artwork for Jonte’s Releases.

I asked him if he had any plans for the future to continue with music. Sure enough, he’s already looking forward to the next release. “I don’t understand how Adele releases an album and she’s like, ‘that’s me done for five years’.” As of yet, there is no date for a new album, but considering the turnaround of Delete, I expect the next release won’t be too far away. “I produced [Delete] in lockdown ... I sort of set myself a challenge. I’ll just set an end date and I’m like, ‘right, I’m gonna make a whole album’.”

If you’re trying to remember if you’ve seen him at a gig, or read his name on a gig poster, you haven’t. “I’ve never played a live show, really.” He did express interest in playing shows, and even a guest appearance on the radio. “I think I’d definitely like to like perform on Radio One.” So, Radio One, it’s your move.

Here’s a takeaway from anyone who is wanting to get into playing live music or recording their own songs: learn how to ask. Message other local bands and artists and ask if they’d be keen to play a show together. If you’re releasing recorded material, send it around other musicians, venues, radio stations, anyone. Ask for feedback from other people about it, and figure out what advice is worth ignoring or taking on board, and enjoy working with others. 

This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2020.
Posted 8:51pm Thursday 27th August 2020 by Andy Randell.