Prior to the start his his upcoming tour, Jonas Blue gave an interview about collaborating with some of the biggest names in the business, Shawn Mendes and hitting the road in March.
1. Your breakthrough hit was your cover of Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ – did you ever expect to receive such a great response from your debut single? What was it that drew you to that song?
It was actually my mum’s favourite song when I was really young and she used to play it on long car journeys so I always had the song kind of ingrained in my memory. I always felt doing a dance version of it would be cool but the timing didn’t feel right until 2015; there was the perfect moment with dance music having a very melodic feel and the growth of the tropical sound which had the ability to work so well with organic / folk music – I was inspired by a summer 2015 trip to Ibiza and came home and basically made the full instrumental in a day.
2. You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in music, including collaborations with Liam Payne, JP Cooper, Tiesto, Becky Hill– who has been your favourite or most memorable to work with?
They’ve all been great in different ways -JP Cooper and Liam have been favourites, JP’s voice is just so perfect in tone and has so much soul, and Liam is just a great guy to be around and really professional and disciplined with his vocal recording; we recorded Polaroid in my tiny studio in my parents garage. It was quite mad having someone from one of the biggest boy bands ever in my parent’s tiny garage!
3. Who would be your dream collaboration?
It’s got to be Shawn Mendez, he just captures so much of what I love in his music, it’s pop but its got some funk and soul to it and that youthful energy, and he’s just a superstar.
4. It’s rumoured that you’re currently producing the debut album of girl group Four of Diamonds– how did that come about?
Yeah I’m involved, more of an executive producer role. Actually we’re on the same label Virgin, and the guys at the label knew I was a real pop music fan and was keen to get involved in a project, particularly a girl pop group as I’ve always mentioned there was a gap in the market in the UK for that kind of project to really work. The girls are amazing and each have their own character and unique voice – I’m definitely excited to see how the project develops.
5. Can you tell us about your creative process – Are you in the studio with the artist and work on a sound together, or do you produce a track on your own with an artist in mind?
It usually starts with me in the studio with a co-writer who will have more of a focus on the lyrics of the song, I will generally start at the piano trying to find a strong melody they can connect with and you just hope the magic happens, then in an ideal world, by the end of the session we have a first demo which for me should really have all the key ingredients and sound pretty well developed. I also often go into a session with a song title, I have this list of cool song titles which can often spark an entire song concept. I’m always looking for inspiration on song titles and find them anywhere. I’ve been inspired by shop names on the way to the studio or memes I’ve seen on Instagram! One thing that really bothers me is doing a full day in the studio and not having a great result at the end of the day, I’m a perfectionist and that probably extends to my music more than anything else!
6. How does producing and writing for other artists compare to your own music, and how do you decide what you’ll be keeping to release for yourself?
It’s a different process if you know you’re doing a production for an existing song and it’s for another artist, you still get fully into it but the emotional connection is different – if it’s my single there’s much more riding on it for me and I’m conscious more of how it will perform globally and if kids in Brazil or Asia will be able to sing the chorus.
Sometimes I’ve had songs at the end of the session I think it’s definitely something for me, but as time goes on I write other songs that feel better or more relevant for me so my team and I start to think about which other artists that song could be relevant for – maybe it’s another dance act and I’ll stay part of the release as we did with Ritual (Tiesto & Rita Ora) or Back & Forth (MK & Becky Hill) – they were both songs I wrote for me, but in the end it made more sense to do them as collaboration releases.
7. Your debut album ‘Blue’ broke through to the UK Top 40 in 2018 – how does it feel to say you’ve released your debut album? Were you happy with the reaction?
The album format is a strange one these days, particularly in my dance / pop genre, as generally the audience for that sound are not overly into consuming an album and are into the single releases much more, so we didn’t put too much pressure on the album. We knew it would work really well in markets where the album format is still really strong like Japan and Germany, but overall we were really happy with the album and the reception it got, working with acts like Jessie Reyez and Tini on the album are really special moments in my discography and it’s something I’ll always be proud of.
8. Your latest single ‘Billboard’ featuring Chinese singer, Tifa Chen – how important do you think it is to work with a diverse range of artists and to support upcoming talent?
I’ve always championed up and coming talent, I think the power of a great vocal performance from an exciting new artist can hold more weight than an average performance from a bigger artist, so yes, it’s absolutely important for me to work with new talent and a diverse range of international acts, too. My music has always had a big global reach, and I’m always thinking about what’s relevant to the global fans and how to connect with them more. Tifa’s vocal is amazing regardless of which language she’s singing in, I just really connected with her voice and Billboard was a great fit for the collaboration. There’s some other global artists on my album, Jhay Cortez for instance was a new Latin rapper who hadn’t done a huge amount when he featured on my album and he’s since gone on to become one of the biggest new rappers coming out of Latin America, so the quest for new talent is also a global thing for me.
9. You’ll be heading off on a headline tour in March, are you excited to be getting back on the road?
Yeah, I’m having a break at the moment, which has been amazing. It’s quite strange getting used to not travelling and just being at home, but the headline tour in March is going to be really special. It’s a bit of a live / DJ combo, we have some great musicians and singers joining the tour, and the stage production is looking amazing; it’s just really special for me to be doing my own headline shows. We have a great crew who are also friends coming on the tour so I do anticipate a lot of fun to be had on the road too.
10. What is your favourite thing about touring? Any on-the-road rituals?
It’s got to be the energy and vibe you get from a great crowd and how it makes you feel seeing them sing your songs back to you, you just can’t beat that feeling. Rituals I have are nothing crazy, I like to be prepared with my tour manager before the set and make sure everything is all set for me to hit the stage, then after the show, I love to meet the fans. You can generally see the super fans at the front of a show and I know it can mean a lot to them to get a photo and meet me, so I try and take the time to do that as those real fans are what it’s really all about; they’re the reason I get to do what I do. Afterwards I generally keep it very chilled and go back to the hotel and have a cup of tea and watch Only Fools and Horses – very English, it grounds me back into normality a bit!
11. You’ve played festivals all over the world, including Tomorrowland, We Are, SW4, Lollapalooza and even had a summer Ibiza residency at Hi – do you prefer playing festivals/outdoor shows compared to smaller, intimate shows?
There’s pros and cons to both really. You can’t beat a big festival like Tomorrowland main stage, but sometimes you wanna get an intimate vibe in a club and really be connected with the crowd and not feel the pressure to play in a certain way and keep it a bit more underground.
12. What have you got planned for the rest of 2020?
Music-wise I can’t wait for you all to hear what’s coming! I already have the main releases for the year clearly mapped out and it’s some of the best music I’ve ever released. I have some amazing shows in the schedule, lots of activity in Asia and some extensive time in the U.S. Of course Ibiza is always a key part of the summer schedule, which I love, as Ibiza really inspired the start of Jonas Blue!
You can find tickets to Jonas Blue shows HERE