Jon Carter is back with a mighty bang. The legendary DJ/producer has been there and done several times over the years. His credits cover most specialist musical achievements having been signed up by the infamous Wall Of Sound back in the 90s. It wasn’t long before Carter was beginning to develop a reputation as one of the regular DJs at The Heavenly Social, a Sunday evening club in the Albany pub on Great Portland Street in central London.
Alongside the other regular DJs The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Richard Fearless of Death in Vegas, the night was instrumental in developing the form of electronic dance music that became known as big beat, with its mix of rock, hip hop and breakbeat, as well as dance. Monkey Mafia, Nu Camp ‘Woman beat their men’ and an Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 doesn’t even scratch the surface of what this highly talented DJ/producer has covered.
After a lengthy break, Carter is back in full effect and exclusively presents his Glastonbury 2019 live set recorded with Evermix.
Steve Stimpson caught up with him to discuss DJing, Glastonbury, Lodges & Inspiration.
STEVE STIMPSON: Jon, It’s great to have you back on fine form. For the record, tell us why you decided to hang the headphones up for a while and are you back for good now?
JON CARTER: Hi Steve. In my head, I hung the headphones up 10 years ago, after 20 years working solidly in what became “the industry” – making music, working with sound systems, starting bands and Djing. 20 years is a long time in any career these days, and I was blessed to work that long in a scene from its infancy – one that has become a global institution. Whilst working in almost every way in dance music, I knew that I had to make other opportunities to work in other, not dissimilar directions, with pubs, hospitality, after I was given a world view from meeting so many people around the globe, and experiencing their cultures. It was an education on so many levels that I took to heart and absorbed, spending a huge amount of time for 20 years amongst groups of people so different in many ways, but so similar in many many more.
To tell the truth I saw the change coming as dance music took over the world, piece by piece, being lucky enough to travel the world alongside it, and knew that the origins of the scene would be less relevant as it matured. 30 years after I started working in dance music, 10 years of retirement has changed my perspective on everything that the scene has become, and made me excited to be involved with various different new aspects of the whole thing, on a very personal level.
Acid house is a personal experience, as much as it is very much a communal one. 10 years off has taught me that whatever happens from now, there are still important lessons to be learnt from the energy created by this global culture, when the right people understand the events they host. It has social inclusion at it’s very heart, and if you think it’s about making money….. well you don’t get it, you’re a vampire, and you should fuck off right now.
We have to remember how this music changed attitudes to music becoming less about tribes who never knew how similar they were, and more to understanding how including everybody together, as one, is the only way forward in the long run, and always has been. This is the key to our survival in potentially disastrous times, but where giving up on our future is the worst way to make that a reality.
How can you walk away from something so beautiful – something that sowed a seed 30 years ago, that says we can live together as one? I may be less relevant to what dance music has become now, but I’ve realised how strong it made me, and us, and how it lights up a future we all desperately need to see, together.
It doesn’t get much bigger than Glasto, please paint a picture of the gig and take us through a selection of the special tracks in your set?
Just going to Glastonbury now is a lifelong memorial experience. Being able to play there, and especially on a weekend like this weekend, of sunshine and sandals, is a dream gig.
Glastonbury has grown with its return this year, and I played 3 gigs in the end.I started in the Greenpeace area’s “rave tree” at sunset , which was an incredible experience. That’s the picture I’ve sent to go with the mix.
The Spaceport gig was a new tent – all these new areas have incredible sound systems – and it’s next to the Glade area, when at midnight it was the perfect spot to build a crowd, focussed on music, until it was packed and going off, purely based on what they were hearing. I’m fully aware of the 10 year retirement, and focussed on building a crowd, filling the arena, which happened, and making them go off. It’s wonderful to see that – not the whole crowd knew who I was, but they came in, and stayed, and it snowballed, until there was an appreciation for the music and what it was doing. The way I do it – 10 years after retirement – seems to still work, as it was as joyous behind the decks as much as it was in front of the speakers.
I’ve been inspired by a lot of Steve Mac’s production – he’s got a sound that is cutting through, and has been working for years on his sound, to the point of being a master now, and if you’re looking to start in dance production, then check Steve / These Machines.
If you look at the track listing, you’ll see how I’ve hung up the headphones on staple tracks from my old sets, and found so much new music from 2019. 10 years of retirement is an eye opener if you want to go back an old career, and I’d only recommend it if you can see new tools you want to work with.
The list and the artists involved does speak for itself for this question, but I have to give a special thanks to the Chemical Brothers, their new album, and their live shows (and DJing) for inspiration to work in this sphere again. Steve Mac though… He’s special. Alex Blanco too.
It’s clear that you back on fire on the DJ front. Will there be a natural progression back into producing?
Short answer – yes. It’s a natural progression, as you say. After this weekend I have sessions booked in, and I still have the original Roland kit and more – I’ve learnt from this hiatus in production how best to spend my time behind the mixing desks. The wheel doesn’t need re-inventing, but I look forward to giving it my spin again.
Please tell us about the Lodges and these amazing studios that artists can retreat to while writing and producing.
During the 10 years’ retirement I worked (maybe too) hard in new areas. As well as the Lodges at New House Farm out in the country, one hour from London, converting a derelict farm into a peaceful retreat and family reunion location, and taking on other new projects, my wife Nina and I had twins at the same time. This was an extremely hard undertaking, and I would rather just give the website address here to find out more about the project that we built: https://thelodgesnhf.com/
It’s quite hard to talk about what’s happened in the last five years to make this happen, as we’ve created something quite magical, and it’s taken more strength than I ever thought I, or Nina had, to dare to get there. I personally broke myself, and am not afraid to admit it.
With that in mind, I have created a studio space to give DJs/artists/anybody who needs space and a break from the musical treadmill that can grind people constantly working and travelling, the chance to find some space, use the original synths (303, SH09, 808, 909, Roland Space Echo, and much more), and most importantly, stop the overwork and say yes to a break. It’s strictly daytime only – no late nights – and you can only find us by word of mouth. I managed to keep hold of all my original analogue kit, and any profits made from this project very close to my heart go to mental health charities.
Let’s just just say, we made it though Stimpy. But what we went through…… I don’t think this is the place for that story.
There are serious mental health issues we need to address in this industry. The overwork / late nights / the endless travelling / the use of too many drugs to get through it / the loneliness – the list goes on. I’d just like to say, whoever you are, wherever you’re from, please don’t give up if you feel it’s too tough.
Please, in these hard times, look after yourselves, and if you think it’s too hard to keep going.. just try and take a moment to think that there is somebody who loves you and will be there for you. You may not see it in the darkness, but the world is still looking after you, loves you, and wants you to reach out whether you’re in trouble, or if feeling the strength to survive, and want to help others do the same
Look out for each other. Be good to yourself.
Your 5 favorite productions/remixes that you’ve done
(This changes depending whenever you ask me!)
1. Ward 10 / The Whore Of Babylon (listen to both, one after the other) from the Monkey Mafia Shoot The Boss Album (the best 15 minutes of music I ever made, I think)
2. What’s going on Mekon? (Junior Cartier Mix) – Wall of Sound
3. I am the Resurrection – Stone Roses (Jon Carter mix)
4. Women Beat Their Men – Junior Cartier (Watching the banned video edit at the same time)
5. Luke Slater – Body Freefall, Electronic Reform (Junior Cartier Mix)
What musically inspires you and who/what was your biggest influence?
Acid House, Carnival, Ragga, Bass, Weatherall, Norman Jay’s Good Times, Quality tunes from any source, be it a dance producer or a band and crowds of positive people
Any more exciting gigs on the pipeline?
Cream’s birthday in October, in Liverpool, and Dub Pistols’ Mucky Weekender in a secret location in Sussex are on the cards at the moment, with some other offers in.
You recorded you’re set using the Evermix Mixbox. How did you get on using it for the 1st time?
It’s so simple to set up and use, yet it’s so user friendly and offers very high quality recording . It’s groundbreaking, to be honest, and I’ll be using it for deck muck-arounds in the studio to make mashups, record mixes and more out in the field from now on. It’s an essential now, second only to music and headphones.
It’s an amazing bit of kit, that you just realise, now you have it, how did I not work with this before!? Beyond simple to use. I love it
1.Work – Marie Davidson (Soulwax 2019 remix)
2.Masterplan – Dino Lenny (Jon Carter revisit)
3.Ohio By Blanco 2019
4.Clap your hands by Blanco 2019
5.Serge Santiago – Atto D’Amore (Skint 2019 release)
6.Charlotte Gainsbourgh – Boms away (___remix)
7.Lost in music – Sister Sledge – Re-edit
8.Together – ? – 2011, and still destroying lowing joints up
9.Sharam Jey – Lobi (2019)
10.Hatiras Spaced Invader- These Machines 2019 Remix
12.Only Human – KH (2019)
13.Erol Alkan – Spectrum
14.Gwad Bush (Tuff City Kids remix)
15.Standard Acid Track (2019)
16.Yousef v Harry Choo Choo Romero w. (2019)
17.These Machines v DJ Pierre – Burn the Track (2019)
18.Carl Cox – Dark Alleys (2019)
19.Chemical Brothers- MAH (2019)
20.Underworld – Rez (Futureshock remix / Jon Carter edit)