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Mathew Jonson: The Maestro

He could have been a concert pianist, but instead Mathew Jonson turned to electronic music

  • Words: Kristan Caryl / Images: Jimmy Mould
  • 4 December 2015
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Jonson's home is in the north of Berlin, intentionally away from the party hotspots so he can live a normal life Monday to Friday, "then at the weekend it's my time to party and socialise." As well as doing yoga as many mornings as possible, he is a vegetarian in the week (but "an absolute carnivore at weekends") and reports that next to "normal crap" like taxes and housework, he takes "too many long baths" reading the epic Asian saga novels by James Clavell, indulging his fascination with Eastern culture.

Growing up in Canada with the odd early DJ residency, Jonson spent seven years as a lifeguard at a tough inner city pool that had "crazy shit going down every day." Turned on by the adrenaline rush of first aid, he fancied becoming a paramedic («or chef») but couldn't get on the college courses as he had no real experience in either. Instead, having first started playing with synths in 1986, he took up a music course. "But I soon dropped out," he says, leaning on one hand as he looks back, "because it took all the creativity out, I was just doing engineering!" That same drive to always be creating is what stopped him becoming "something like a concert pianist," despite very real playing chops. "As soon as I could sequence and write my own music, I did that and stopped practising. It's much more rewarding for me.

His most recent project is 'fabric 84,' a compelling live recording of a set he played for the London club's 15th birthday. Many have asked for commercial mixes from him before, but he never felt comfortable giving over so much of his unreleased material to anyone but "real friends" like fabric. "Those people are like family and that night the lasers, visuals and everything just clicked," says Jonson, who wore a Japanese alien suit (though it actually looks more like the Easter bunny) to play his set.

After a long term relationship ended earlier this year, Jonson is in no rush to get home after gigs. With his new girlfriend, he is lingering in the places he plays longer and getting to know people better. The upshot is that he is very much back in love with electronic music (as someone who no longer DJs, though, he largely only buys "old second hand drum 'n' bass stuff from the UK, hip hop and jazz") and is in a comfortable routine of a couple of shows a week. Now older and wiser and able to pick and choose his parties, Mathew Jonson is as serious about having fun as he is about music.

'Fabric 84' mixed by Mathew Jonson is out now

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