In the past three years, Jonas Blue has gone from an unknown music producer to one of the most sought-after EDM stars on the music scene.
It all started in 2015, when his cover of ‘Fast Car’ became a surprise hit, peaking at number two in the UK singles chart, a feat matched by follow-up single ‘Perfect Strangers’.
As he gears up for the release of his debut album later this year, Jonas paid a visit to ‘BUILD’, where he discussed the unlikely inspiration that pushed him on the road to DJing and revealed some of the unexpected ways he discovered past collaborators, including Raye and Jack & Jack.
Here are 12 things we learned from his interview...
1. His new single, ‘Rise’, happened completely at the ‘last-minute’
“I had my single ready to go, and it was all planned, everything was all ready, and then I went to LA in April, and I was listening to [radio presenter] Jojo Wright and he was interviewing these guys, Jack & Jack, who if I’m honest I’d never heard of before.
“But I was listening to them on the radio, very much inspired by what they were talking about. I went back home a week later, went back to my studio and I was like, ‘Right, I loved what they were talking about, being these idols for the younger generation and being kind of empowerment figures’, and feeling very much inspired by that, I wrote ‘Rise’.
“I sent it to the guys, and I was like, ‘I wrote this song based on what you were talking about in that interview, would you be up for singing it?’. It was around the weekend of Coachella and they were like, ‘sure’, and I got the vocals back from them and I was like, ‘Oh my god, scrap the song I already had planned, this has to be my next single’. And we went with ‘Rise’ about a week before it got released. And I think it was the best song that I could have picked.”
2. It was also a pure coincidence that led him to collaborate with Raye
“I found Raye in the back of an Uber! I was in an Uber, on my way back to Essex from London, and I was obviously talking music with someone on the phone, and the driver was eavesdropping on what I was talking about.
“I put down the phone and he was like, ‘so, you’re into music are you?’ And I was like, ‘Ah, it’s like a two hour journey and I know he’s going to tell me his goldfish’s brother’s sister is a singer or something like that, and I’m going to have to listen to it for two hours’. And he was like, ‘I have to show you my friend’s daughter, she’s a singer’, and I was like, ‘yeah, I’ve heard it all before…’.
″[At that time] Raye had only done one song and it was just this thing on YouTube, and nobody knew of her, she was just like Charli XCX’s friend and that was it really. But I listened to her voice and I was just like, ‘This girl is amazing’.”
3. He’s setting his sights high for his next collaboration
“I’ve always wanted to collaborate with Shawn Mendes, he’s an amazing artist, but the thing with Shawn is that I won’t collaborate… me just sending some beats. It has to be in the studio where we’d both be there recording together. He’s someone I’ve always wanted to collaborate with so hopefully that’ll happen soon.”
4. The success of ‘Fast Car’ came completely out of the… blue (pun, intended)
“If I’m honest, I never knew ‘Fast Car’ was going to be my first single. It was something that I made one late night in my free time, and it was the record that changed my life. I’ve been making music for a very, very long time and before ‘Fast Car’ I was always chasing the record label or the fame to try and be this superstar. And then the record that I made just for the love of it and didn’t really care what happened, whether it got signed or if anyone heard it was ‘Fast Car’.”
5. But that sudden success was a double-edged sword
“I didn’t have any idea what that song would do and the thing which that song allowed me to do was travel the world and have this amazing platform to now make music.
“The problem with that record was it was such a big global record that you can’t then keep not having global records after that. So the pressure is very, very high, especially when it’s your debut single. So it’s interesting, and I’m very lucky that I’m still here and still making music.”
6. His inspiration to become a DJ was decidedly ’90s
“I used to watch this programme on Channel 4 called ‘Club 18-30 Reps’... basically, that programme shows the really, really bad side to Ibiza so you’ll see a lot of English people getting very drunk and doing stupid things.
“But the flipside of that programme was that it would pan to shots of David Guetta, Erick Morillo, Carl Cox, and all these classic Ibiza DJs, and I was just like… ‘What is that? Why is that guy standing up there, and why is everyone looking at him, and why is he creating the party?’. I was just like, ‘I need to be that’. And from that day, I got a pair of decks and went on my way to DJing and everything else.”
7. And it’s all come full-circle from there
“I kind grew up on this programme watching Ibiza hoping that one day I would get one gig there… I’ve been to Ibiza quite a few times now, but I’ve now landed my first residency there. That was always a dream of mine, so to now be there every Sunday is just the most amazing thing, it was something I always dreamed of.”
8. His Essex roots also played their part in getting him where he is today
“I had residencies when I was 15 and 16 at Faces nightclub, I’ve done the circuit there, it’s been fun, and not fun… I remember this one night, I was at this club that I was DJing at, and this really drunk Essex guy poured a bottle of champagne over the deck and broke it, and back then I was DJing on vinyl, and I was absolutely screwed. I had to speak in between each tune.
“The weird thing is, when I was DJing at this club, all the Essex lot that you know from ‘TOWIE’, they were all there, when they were all younger. It’s quite funny how they’ve all formed into this TV show, but they used to come to this bar/club that I used to DJ at.”
9. And the area had a potentially unlikely influence on his music
“Definitely! The one thing about Essex is that there’s a lot of people there that are into their soul music. And I’m talking ’80s and ’70s soul music, that was a big part of my childhood, there was Al Green, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, people like that.
“And the weird thing is, a lot of people in Essex, that’s their sound as well. And I think that’s why my music now is so soulful, my songs have that depth and that soul. And it did have a huge inspiration on my music for sure.”
10. His debut album is coming in the autumn, but Jonas was initially reluctant to record one at all
“An album was never my thing when I started out, because I’d managed to have this incredible success on just singles, that no one else had been able to do. But there comes a time when your fans want a body of art from you, and that time is now. I’ve held it off for about three years now, and I’ve got some great songs on the album, some great collaborations, and it’ll be out in October or November.”
11. Life on the road as an EDM FJ is as wild as you might think (some of the time)
“At times, for sure, I do love a party. However, I do love going back to my room and putting on ‘Only Fools And Horses’ and having a cup of tea. There’s two sides of me where I do love a party, but I also love being an old man. It’s just about balance, as a DJ you can get very much involved in the party life, but you need to find balance, because it is a job at the end of the day.
“It’s about making sure you have a cup of tea… but also making sure you have a vodka as well.”
12. Which leads us nicely onto what he would advise himself three years ago, as ‘Fast Car’ was about to make it big…
“Enjoy being at home. Because you’re never home. Ever! You know, I love my bed, I love my dressing gown and my slippers… so [I’d tell myself] to have a good couple of weeks in those.
“Nothing could have prepared me for this lifestyle, I’m literally never home, I have a million and one things going on at once. So I’d tell myself to just be prepared, be humble, be level-headed, and just enjoy every moment, because it does go very quick.”
Jonas’ collaboration with Jack & Jack, ‘Rise’, is available to download and stream now. Watch his ‘BUILD’ interview in full below...