The 96th episode of our 12 Questions segment features producer John Johnson.
1. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?
It was a combination of a club visit with the music that was played during that visit. The club was called Balmoral in Belgium, the year 1992. 4 tracks that where played that night made me fall in love with electronic music instantly: The Visions Of Shiva – Perfect Day, Jaydee – Plastic Dreams, Age Of Love – Age Of Love and Poltergeist – Vicious Circles.
2. What was your first and last DJ gig?
The first proper DJ gig was in 1993 at the infamous Vortex Rave in Cape Town South Africa. My last gig was at the Social Club in Paris.
3. What was the first and last record you purchased?
First ever 12” Vinyl purchases where the monumental Rock Box by Run DMC, Prince – Purple Rain and New Order – Blue Monday. The last purchases from about a week ago: Trus’Me – I Want You (Alan Fitzpatrick Remix), Gerd feat. Maecoradi – Still Believe, Simion – Warning and Chrom & Thanh – These Walls feat. Ann Saunderson
4. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I am a serious wine collector and currently writing my PhD thesis at Columbia University. People always kept asking me why I suddenly stopped DJing/producing in 2005. The official statement from my management at the time was, that I decided to move on to new business ventures after being sick and tired of dealing with shady promoters and club owners. The reality was that I was diagnosed with cancer and was given a very short life expectancy. Till this day only my closest surroundings have known about it.
5. What would you say is the highlight of your career thus far?
Being alive and able to answer these questions. Haha, it’s good to laugh. There where quite a few; Sasha opening his Essential Mix with my “Impact” record or Sasha and John Digweed closing their set with my mix of Bedrock’s – Heaven Sent on Millennium night in front of 25.000 people live on the BBC. That was epic and will always stay with me. Having the possibility to work with some amazing talented people, being able to have travelled to every corner of the world and being paid for doing so. But the biggest highlight has to be the amazing friendships I made and maintained over the many years I have been involved in the music industry, which is a feat in itself.
6. Who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?
There are so many talented people out there, where I keep asking myself how come these guys aren’t superstars? Artists like Sébastien Faure, Medsound, Tone Deaf Barbers, JBAG, Thomas Tonfeld, Phonic Scoupe, Elektromekanik, Rafal Michal, Holmes Price, Art Bleek, Jesse Oliver and the list goes on and on…All very talented artists in their own right and field of music, with high production values and a good ear for arrangements and harmonies but without the proper recognition they might deserve.
7. Which producers consistently inspire you?
There are a lot of great producers out there but the ones that do inspire me are those who are able to release music on a very high consistent level. Where there isn’t any drop in quality, regardless of the amount of releases they put out. It’s an art and extremely difficult to be consistent over and over again but guys like Oliver Nelson, JBAG, Hot Since 82, Aeroplane, Christian Smith, Quiver, Guy J, Dosem, Booka Shade or Maceo Plex manage to do it which is very commendable and inspiring.
8. What artist or track would you love to remix? and who would you love to be remixed by?
Very difficult question to answer for someone who’s done over 250 remixes in his lifetime. I was very fortunate and extremely grateful to have been able to realise my dream of remixing a lot of great artists in my time that there aren’t many wishes left. One needs to stay grounded, humble and be thankful for the possibilities already had. Non the less, if I could chose one artist or track to remix, than it would have to be The Church – Under The Milky Way or Depeche Mode – The Things You Said. Being remixed is a total different matter all together; there are so many great people who I would love to do a mix for one of my productions. Any of these would make me a very happy man: Bedrock, Oliver Nelson, JBAG, Hot Since 82, Aeroplane, Christian Smith, Cid Inc, Chrom & Thanh, Wehbba, Pryda, Quiver, Guy J, Dosem, Booka Shade or Maceo Plex.
9. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days, hich ones if any standout for you?
Agreed, I like all different kinds of music and being a label owner I am always on the lookout for new music and artist. With the amount of promos one gets send these days you see more and more new labels putting out records but I found it has become increasingly difficult to stay on top of things, as 70% of the stuff I get send is just mediocre and generic. Things you heard a million times before. I for myself have managed to find my favourite labels for the different genres I like and tend to always go back to those as in 99% of the time they do keep producing the quality that sets them apart from the rest. You want some names now, right ? So here we go in no specific order: Off Recordings, Drumcode, Bedrock, Microcastle, Hot Creations, Systematic, Stellar Fountain, Noir Music, Continental Records, Discotexas, Spirit Soul and of course my own imprints Media Blackout & 238*West
10. What would you say is the best mix compilation of all time?
Who comes up with these questions? It’s an impossible question to answer. I can try and narrow it down to a few but that’s already pushing it. One of the truly defining compilations of my life is “Renaissance: The Mix Collection mixed by Sasha & John Digweed” in 1994. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard it. Another symbolic compilation for different reasons was my first official mix compilation John Johnson live in Hong Kong in 2000. Hong Kong on a Wednesday night at the famous Boom Club full to the heavens with crazy clubbers and recording my first compilation live with just 2 Technics SL 1210’s and a mixer. No software, no editing, just sheer lunacy. Do I need say more? There are so many other memorable compilations that I am just going to list the ones that spring to mind right now as I believe that the best compilation ever doesn’t exist or better is very hard to define. Compilations for me are reflections of a certain moment at a certain time. Honourable mentions: Jacques Lu Cont – Fabric Live 09, Jimmy Van M – Bedrock Mixed, Carl Cox – F.A.C.T & Live at Space Miami, Stereo MC’s – DJ Kicks, François K* – Masterpiece, Nick Warren – Renaissance The Master Series 18 and Sven Väth – The Sound Of The Twelfth Season.
11. Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Food: Japanese & French Cuisine
Drink: Fine Wine & Water
Drug: Cigars on a special occasion
TV Show: Life On Mars UK Version & Entourage
Movie: Gone Girl & Fury
Video Game: Haven’t got time for games but if I had it would be Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox One) & Tetris (Gameboy)
Album: M83 – Saturdays = Youth, Phantogram – Voices, Todd Terje – It’s Album Time & Caribou – Our Love
Track / Song: Two Door Cinema Club – Next Year (JBAG Remix) & Sébastien Faure – Hot Sand!
Producer / Band: Anthony Gonzalez from M83, Dosem, Hot Since 82 and JBAG
Record Label: 238*West/Media Blackout & Off Recordings
Nightclub: Space Ibiza & Verboten New York
DJ: Carl Cox & Seth Troxler
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Is this a trick question? It’s the last set of my career so I might as well jump off a bridge J Fun aside I would probably chose between the following tracks depending of where I was playing:
Hercules and Love Affair – Blind (Frankie Knuckles Remix)
Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
Plastikman – Spastik
The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl
Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You
Paul & Fritz Kalkbrenner – Sky And Sand
Humate – Love Stimulation (Paul Van Dyk’s Love Club Mix)
Rythim Is Rythim – Strings Of Life
New Order – Blue Monday
DJ Rolando – Knights Of The Jaguar
John Johnson & Greyloop ‘Time Capsule’ is out now on 238 West, can purchase the release: here