Jon Phonics has a real sense of depth.
Born and brought up in London, the producer soaked in the sounds he heard around him – whether that was grime, 80s electro-funk or some classic house.
Elements of each creep into his music, with the selector's DJ sets going even further. Jon Phonics is set to hit London on Thursday night (April 2nd) to spin at the Book Club in Shoreditch, on a bill which also features a live set from Debruit.
Asked to provide a playlist, Jon Phonics decided to really push the eclecticism – check it out below.
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Robert Rental - 'Double Heart'
I first heard this song maybe three or four years ago when I was discovering a lot of post-punk and no-wave stuff, mostly through reissues of Suicide etc. It's one of those songs that as soon I heard it, I felt like I’d known it forever. Sometimes, with the way music is consumed these days, it's easily forgotten what makes it so special in the first place. Music has a way of capturing and communicating emotions that words can't express. There's something in this song that optimises that feeling for me and - judging by the YouTube comments - I’m not the only one.
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Robert Wyatt - 'At Last I Am Free'
This is an amazing cover of an equally amazing Chic track. I only really started getting into Robert Wyatt a couple of years ago and it started with this. The lyrics are obviously about a break up and the Chic version has this shiny, uplifting positivity to it, which is great and everything, but this version just seems to resonate so much more with me. That's probably because I’m English and everything here is grey and shit, so I tend to be a bit sceptical of anything that's shiny and overly positive. Robert's rendition also feels like it could be about anything, rather than just a break up song, like he's just got some good news about his blood tests or something.
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Jaisu - 'Leaving The World Behind'
If you don't know Jaisu, he is a producer from Edinburgh and he is also the king. His record 'A Long Player' is out in April on my label, Astral Black and I couldn't be more happier about that fact. This track is maybe five years old or something and is a perfect example of why he's my hero. When I get together with other producers, we spend a lot of time listening to Jaisu beats or just talking about how dope the last batch he sent was. Jaisu has always been the understated best. You might say 'Jon you're biased', to which I say 'that's true.' But watch all his beat videos on YouTube, check his mixtapes and then you'll get an idea of where I’m coming from.
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Group Home - 'Suspended In Time'
Obviously DJ Premier is one of the greatest and this 'Group Home' LP is definitely my favourite example of his work. The production on this track is particularly wavey, before wavey was even a thing. Lil’ Dap and Malachi The Nutcracker both have exactly what I like in rappers too - thugged out dudes, breaking their hearts over a beat. 18 year olds that you would not want to run into down a dark alley with lyrics like "I think about my soul, cos this shell is just a frame - only used for money, hustling and playing the game" and in the next video they are weighing crack on the scales... it doesn't get much realer than that.
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Raekwon & Ghostface Killah - 'Heaven & Hell'
These early Wu albums were the first hip hop I became truly immersed in and Rae, Ghost and of course, the RZA, influenced me profoundly. Their slang, style and production are untouchable. The content on this track embodies for me the sound of those records and the poignant, contrasting messages within their music.
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Lyman Woodward Organisation - 'Joy Road'
Lyman Woodward is a bit like jazz music’s J Dilla in the way that I would have been hearing a lot of his work as a producer but without realising he was the man behind it. I first heard the 'Saturday Night Special' LP after it's reissue on Wax Poetics in 2009. I have fond memories of listening to this song, riding the number 12 bus up Walworth Road in the sun shine.
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Visual - 'The Music Got Me' (Instrumental Mix)
This is the instrumental version of Visual's 'The Music Got Me', produced by the legendary Boyd Jarvis. I did a b2b with my good pals Raj and Budgie (from Livin' Proof) at the Numbers' Pleasure Principle festival, we were playing in a tiny bar on top of a little hill and this one got the place rocking so hard I thought the bar was going to topple over.
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Shadow - 'Let's Get Together'
A rare calypso gem, this one from Shadow. If you hit it right, the energy this can give the dancefloor is crazy. I think an edit got released a few years ago on wax but would love to find the OG.
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Alhaji K. Frimpong - 'KyenKyen Bi Adi Mawu'
AKA the best song ever. A Ghanaian highlife classic, it's only from 1998 but sounds like it could be 20 years older than that. Shouts to Nick Bam for me putting me up on this one. Would like to listen to this whilst driving in the mountains one time, please.
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The Fall - 'Rebellious Jukebox'
I often put this on my headphones when I first leave the house and it makes me walk dead fast. I always thought that if I ever made a movie, this would be the soundtrack to the opening titles. I went to go and see them at the Clapham Grand a few years back. They didn't play this unfortunately but my friend described Mark E. Smith as looking like a 'bus driver with a head made of paper mache', which made me laugh.
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Jon Phonics is set to play the Book Club on Thursday (April 2nd) - details.