MynameisjOhn is a DJ and producer that has been making waves around Ireland the past few years thanks to his slick productions and eclectic DJ sets. With his two E.P’s last year The Thinker and The Prover and The Focusing Effect, he managed to create a cacophony of electro tinged hip hop, full of soothing melodies and corroded basslines that is more than capable of standing up to it’s contemporaries and firmly established the Co. Clare native as one of Ireland’s finest beat makers. Having seen him play a number of times, I’ve always loved each set as it always offered something different and it’s with great pleasure that the next interview and mix comes courtesy of the man himself. In between affirming his love for Phil Collins, R Kelly, he managed to record a wicked mix full of all that you’d expect with the emphasis most definitely on the groove.
Firstly, introduce yourself for those not in the know.
Hello, I’m John. I do music things. If i was a song, I’d probably be ‘People Are Strange’ by The Doors.
You’ve been at this for years but how did you get started with it all?
When I was five, I met Phil Collins in a lift in a hotel in Acapulco. I was so star-struck, I pee’d myself a little bit. But Phil was real cool about it, so down to earth and so bald. He told me all about his time in Genesis as a prog space warrior, how to rob a bank and not get caught, and also what it was like to ride a unicorn backwards through the purple clouds of time. He’d been in Acapulco a long time. After that chance encounter, I knew music was the only road that I wanted to skate down.
You released two EP’s last year. Is the tune making process one you find just flows or do you have to work on it?
It flows about as easy as urine does from an 82 year old man with prostate problems. But I’m working on it. Its getting easier alright, and I’m learning all the time. I’ve tried doing the whole routine approach of setting time-limits and creating schedules, but i think it kind of sterilizes the music that way. Like, you should just make music when you want to or when you have a good idea. I mostly just like fucking around at home making weird noises, its all part of the process – and definitely the most enjoyable. I’m not really sold on the way music is delivered and presented these days, it just undervalues the actual listening process if you fling bits and bobs up all the time. Just make music for yourself or when the Gods tell you to, the blogs will find something else to write about.
What is your approach to music in general?
I wink at it seductively from across the room, and then I pat the cushion beside me in a welcoming motion. Once i get it to sit with me, its a shiftathon.
What should people watch out for from you this year?
Mooners, nipple-twisters, light conversation, the list is endless. I’m hoping its going to be a busy year, with a few collaborative projects on the go. I’m aiming for three releases in some shape or form this year, but we’ll see how it pans out. There’ll be one mynameisjOhn EP by the end of the year, which should be out on vinyl anyway. I definitely want to do more shows with my homie God Knows on mic duties, because the man is just dripping with good vibes. I work on some behind-the-scenes stuff as well in music, so i’m still busy with festivals and teaching the youth not to smoke crack.
You’re based in Co. Clare,one of my favorite places in the world. Do you think being in such an idyllic setting spurs the creativity or does environment even matter?
Actually, I’m based in Limerick temporarily. I say temporarily, but I’m here 5 years. Groundhog day. I need a change of scenery soon though. Clare is my home county alright, and i spend rakes of time out there just sniffing the air and rubbing dirt on myself. Indeed, its some spot, and I’d take a walk in the Burren or a swim in Doolin over any standard night out in a city. The land does something to balance your energy or swing your mind into a more relaxed place. I’m looking at buying a solar-paneled cottage in Fenore by the beach with all the money I made from Bandcamp.
Hip hop is one genre that can be interpreted in different ways. Do you think a level of ambiguity is important in music?
Maybe. Or maybe not. Is that ambiguous enough for you? No, I think hiphop is one of the rare genres that really pushes you to go and discover more about music and where it comes from. Like with hiphop, the history is important. Maybe not as much as it once was, you won’t find Chief Keef waxing lyrical about forgotten jazz albums in the same way Q-Tip did, but that’s okay – things change. I think the biggest mistake you can make in music is not breaking the rules. Just do whatever feels right to you – if other people get it and vibrate with it, then that’s awesome. If they don’t, then who cares? As long as you’re happy and you’re being true to yourself, that’s the most important thing. And get that money, yo.
Your tunes most definitely cross a number of genre’s intertwining all sorts. Where do you see yourself fitting in the current electronic scene? Is there any genre you just cannot stand and wouldn’t go near with a barge pole?
Ah jesus, I don’t know where i fit. I don’t even know if I fit in anywhere. Musically or otherwise. And I don’t know if I care either. If you know of a community where there’s free-loving’, psychedelic folk who hate fashion and think society is doomed, but believe in other dimensions and worship at the alter of R Kelly, then please tell them to get in touch so we can hang out and talk shop.
You’ve played an absolute abundance of gigs. Is there any that stand out in particular?
Ah sure, loads. I think ‘playing live’ or rather ‘playing out’ is definitely one of my strengths. There are times when I wish thats all i did. One long DJ set for the rest of my days, with short breaks for good food and lovage. Its hard to pick any one highlight – but I always enjoy playing with Deviant & Naive Ted. We’ve done sets together for years, but it always seems to go off. And also it really pushes you to up your game when you see him expertly cut and drop banger after banger. He’s got the whopper juice. But yeah, there’s been a few stand-out ones. There was one show I did which was with Red Bull and MCD in Kilkee, as part of the Cois Farraige festival about 3 years ago. Apparently, there was only 30 people in the big tent, but there was at least 5000 people in the street to hear me play. The atmosphere just got more intense and rave-like by the minute, and sure, right on cue, arrived An Garda Siochana to serve and protect the public by stopping the music for no reason. Once the cops had walked about 10 steps away, I dropped Roots Manuva and everything erupted. People had climbed onto the roof of the Red Bull truck and surrounding cars and kept raving. The cops told me I’d be arrested. Incidentally, I was never asked to do any other gigs for Red Bull again, but I totally think they should reach out. We could start riots together.
Any recommendations of artists to check out…
Yes, Phil Collins. Do you like Phil Collins? I’ve been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn’t understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where Phil Collins‘ presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group’s undisputed masterpiece. It’s an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Christy, take off your robe. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. Sabrina, remove your dress. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Sabrina, why don’t you, uh, dance a little. Take the lyrics to Land of Confusion. In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. In Too Deep is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I’ve heard in rock. Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your *%*&!. Phil Collins’ solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like In the Air Tonight and Against All Odds. Sabrina, don’t just stare at it, eat it. But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is Sussudio, a great, great song, a personal favorite.
”I did it with the curtains open so everyone could see”