Jon O'Bir's Music Database Sanctuary
Reported by Mark Landragin
Submitted 14-11-11 20:26
Jon O’Bir is proof that winning a DJ competition can lead to stardom. It was back in 2002 that he was victorious in a Passion and M8 magazine contest, beating 300 other aspiring DJ’s. Godskitchen soon offered Jon a residency and a worldwide DJ career soon followed. Having been described by Paul Van Dyk as “Without doubt one of the most exciting producers in the world today”, Jon has also carved out a successful production career which has included 2 high acclaimed Beatport Trance number 1’s in ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Found A Way’. On the 19th November Jon celebrates the release of his new artist album titled ‘Music Database’ by holding its launch party at Trance Sanctuary in London. So we thought we would catch up with the man himself to find out about his DJ career so far, his upcoming London appearance and of course his new album.
You've been DJing now for over 9 years now, what have the highlights been in that time?
There has been so many highlights, my time as Godskitchen resident was amazing, as a teenager getting to play alongside the likes of Armin, Sasha, Paul van Dyk etc as well as playing events such as Global Gathering and various other international shows with the GK brand. Another massive highlight would be the year with BBC Radio 1, 12 months of presenting on the UK’s number 1 radio station was a dream come true and something I’ll never forget. The gig highlights have been endless, from playing big festivals such as Homelands to Cream, Amnesia, Godskitchen Australia tours and not to forget the period of my debut album release and the support Paul van Dyk showed ‘From Within’, truly memorable months! I’ve been a very luck boy that is for sure and I’ll never take it for granted, may the good times continue from ‘Music Database’ onwards!
You have played all over the world from Argentina, to Singapore to the USA but which countries or clubs would you still like to play in?
I’ve always wanted to play at Guvernment in Toronto, I’m hopefully of getting to play there in the next year (fingers crossed!) I’ve had the pleasure of playing so many venues that I wanted to play when I was first starting out. One venue I’d love to play again is Amnesia of course, can’t get enough of that place and one of my favourite countries to visit is Australia, I’m hoping to return there next March
You previously ran Conspiracy Records with Activa and this autumn you will be launching your own label Infinity Records. What is the thinking behind this and what are your aims?
Since we ended Conspiracy, I’ve had the itch of starting something new up, just as Rob did with his label Borderline. I met up with Ian Kerr, my Infinity Records partner, back in 2009 at an event he was promoting and he shared a similar interest in getting a new label up and running. So we were throwing ideas back and forward for a couple of years before we eventually sat down and got moving with things. We want to put out only the best quality of music that’s of in our opinion and move from there, musically. We have big plans for the Infinity brand and it will expand from just being a label, but you’ll just have to watch this space for now!
This month see's the release of your 2nd artist album, what was your inspirations when making it?
I basically had so much fun producing my debut album ‘From Within’, that I just had to have a bash at another one. It is so satisfying holding the finished article in your hands after that project took a year or so in the making, the feeling of satisfaction is great. Making singles is what I want to do as well of course, but the feeling of completing a project such as an artist album cannot be beaten in my eyes. Many things inspire me to produce a track. It may be another style of music that sets me off wanting to create something, or sometimes its situations in my life that sprout ideas in my head and make me dash to the studio. I had just as much fun producing this latest album as I did with ‘From Within’, so, bring on the 3rd!
How different do you think it is from your previous highly acclaimed album From Within which was released back in 2008?
My sound, as many producers, has evolved slightly since 2008, I’d say there is a lot more groove to my sound these days, whilst keeping the familiar O’Bir euphoric feel. An obvious difference between the two is that ‘Music Database’ has 11 tracks whilst ‘From Within’ had 14. I opted to produce an album in which I could play all the tracks in my club sets if I wished. There are of course similarities between the two as well, I personally think the new album flows just as good as the previous did.
DJing and producing must take up a lot of your time, but what else do you do as a day job?
I do work for Anjunabeats, which is very enjoyable. I do A&R work for them, listening through, as you’d imagine with Anjunabeats, hundreds of demos. Unfortunately, there is a lot not so great tracks being sent though, so the majority of it goes straight into the bin. But it’s a fantastic feeling when I pull out a gem, send it to the guys and get good feedback from my find. A lot of work is going into the new label as well! I do find myself working from waking up, until I get into bed, but its work I love doing, so that doesn’t bother me one bit.
When you had your own show on Radio 1, it was at a time when there were also 3 other Trance DJs with shows (Judge Jules, Dave Pearce and Eddie Halliwell). Only one DJ is left on the station who still keeps the Trance flag flying high (Judge Jules). How hard do you think it is for this scene to gain new followers when perhaps the support isn't there as much as it used to be?
Yeah, as far as I’m aware Jules’s show is the only FM show in the UK that plays trance. It is sad. Thinking about how hard it is for the scene to grow with there being less shows, I don’t think the FM stations have as much power and listener pulling factor as they had a few years ago, what with the introduction of Podcasts and numerous internet radio stations being easier to get hold of and listen to. Also, if you listen to the tracks that enter the charts these days, there is a lot of trance elements being used, fair enough in a pretty cheesy way, but this is how I discovered real trance, by listening to some utter garbage before hand. I believe things move in circles and trance will shine again, both with more FM radio shows and bigger events, but in the mean time it’s not so bad being where it is at this present time, is it?
What can we expect from your set at Trance Sanctuary on the 19th November and what have you already heard about the party?
Obviously you can expect some of the new album material! I’m very active behind the decks as well, so expect to see me up there smiling my face off and possibly sweating by the looks of the party! I’ve heard great things about the party and after seeing the promotion video for this event, I’m so excited to play Trance Sanctuary.
Trance Sanctuary is an intimate party, how different is it for you when playing in smaller rooms compared to arenas?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the smaller rooms are sometimes the best gigs to play. Being able to see the sleep in someone’s eye as you play the music you love, there becomes even more of a connection and you can really read a crowd when they are right in front of your face! The atmosphere tends to be better as well, it depends, some ‘arenas’ like Amnesia are hard to beat I must admit, but the majority of smaller gigs tend to stand out over some grave yard ‘arenas’!
What are your 3 biggest tunes at the moment?
Jon O’Bir feat. Julie Harrington – Perfect As You Are
Ruby & Tony – Blitz (Norin & Rad Remix)
Cosmic Gate, Myon & Shane54 & Aruna – All Around You
What can we expect over the next few months for you?
Well, my album ‘Music Database’ is out now in CD format via my website www.jonobir.com and available to download digitally on 28th November. My next single from the album will be ‘Perfect As You Are’ which will be released 21st November. Our first release on Infinity is also out on 21st November, so musically I’m very busy. Gig wise, I’ve Trance Sanctuary and Godskitchen in November and Escape in Swansea, Warehouse Project, Manchester and Gatecrasher, Birmingham coming up the rest of this year. I’m really looking forward to playing my new material at these events, hope you like them at TS!
All photos courtesy of Jon O’Bir, Piera Catalano & Stanislav Pittner. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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