Photo: Press (Marie Staggat)
Jon Hester began his career in the mid nineties somehwere between Chicago and Detroit both geographically and musically speaking. The DJ-turned-producer counts both House and Techno as his main influences, a fact which is reflected not only by his contribution to the Groove podcast. As a producer however, Hester leans more towards Techno. After two releases on EDEC in 2011 and 2013, he has just put out a fresh four-track EP on Berlin’s Dystopian and contributed to Realm of Consciousness, the inaugural compilation of Tale Of Us’ own label, Afterlife. But don’t worry: He’s still teaching the kids how to jack – literally. Listen to Jon Hester’s mix below our interview with the part-time dance trainer.
You grew up living in both Chicago as well as Minneapolis. When and why did you move to Berlin?
I came to Berlin in 2010. As I spent a lot of time in the midwest US, Berlin feels like home. It has flat land, gray skies, railroad tracks, cold winters, chilly lakes, hearty food, green spaces, and authentic vibes. Combine that with an abundance of music, clubs, and international people, and that’s why I’m here.
In the US you threw parties, worked at a record store, founded a label and started to produce your own music – which of these did you continue in Berlin? And: How would you describe Berlin’s scene compared to the time you moved here?
I continue to produce music and DJ here, I have been working on a label (EDEC), and I helped organize some record store events in Berlin. If I were to offer my perspective on how things have changed since I arrived, some trends have come and gone, but this city is still a thriving cultural hub for techno and house. As the scene has grown and developed over the years, I notice more people are at risk of taking clubbing here for granted, and consume it without actively participating. For all the importance placed on people having knowlege about music, I feel it’s equally important that they still hit the dance floor!
This year you’ve released not only your Interstellar Systems EP on Dystopian, but you’re also part of Realm Of Consciousness, the compilation with which Tale Of Us kicked-off their new label Afterlife. As these two projects differ from each other, do they maybe also reflecting your varied sound approaches?
I’m honored to be a part of both of these labels, as numerous Dystopian records have made their way into my collection for some time now, and Afterlife is carving a unique and melodic path this year. Both labels have their own distinct vision, sound, and aesthetic. As I draw on diverse influences, for me techno can be heavy and intense, yet also have warmth, groove, and emotion, so I share some common ground with both labels.
What’s also special about you is that you’ve taught classes in „House Dance“. When and why did you start with professional dancing? Although this can’t be ever measured in reality, which city does have the best dancers in your opinion?
I’ve been dancing at clubs and parties since the mid-nineties, and this led to passing what I’ve learned organically on to others. A big reason why I wanted to teach was to actively encourage and nourish a culture of social dance that is noticably absent from many dancefloors today. Good dancers can come from anywhere, dancing is about letting yourself experience music in a a physical way. While styles might change from place to place, ultimately skill level transcends any one location — dance is one of the truly universal languages.
Talking about the Groove podcast: Is this mix also representing what you’re doing as a DJ? Did you have any a specific concept in mind?
Yeah, this mix includes a cross-section of what you might find me playing in a club, and the specific concept would be to move your body! The mix encapsulates my diverse influences, with some physical rhythms, melodic moments, atmospheric soundscapes, warm grooves, and stripped-back bangers. The boundaries between techno and house were a lot more undefined as I was getting into DJing in the US, so I have included some house cuts to continue that connection. You can also hear a track from my EP on Dystopian and my contribution to the Afterlife compliation as well.
We know the year’s not over yet, but when you look back at the electronic music year 2016: Did you observe or recognize any new or exciting developments, changes, trends that reflect or define 2016 best?
At the moment I want to enjoy the three days of Berlin summer while I still have the chance! So far this year I am happy to hear more warmth, melody, and organic percussion coming back into techno. People are open-minded, and there are broad horizons for all kinds of music these days.
Last but not least: What’s next for you? Where will you play in the next months, and are there perhaps any new releases on the horizon?
I will be in North America soon, then playing at Space Ibiza for Afterlife, with more European dates in the fall including ADE with Afterlife as well.
Stream: Jon Hester – Groove Podcast 70
02. Robert Hood – Side Effect – Music Man
03. Exium – Trashflow (Jeroen Search’s Machine Mix) – Nheoma
04. Exos – Dub Jazz – Trip
05. Truncate – 51- Sound Pellegrino
06. Nettling – Cycle – Wolfskuil
07. Eduardo De La Calle – B1 – Analog Solutions
08. Dying- Arkham’s Temple – Fanzine
09. User – 009 B2 – User
10. Jon Hester – Solstice – Dystopian
11. Dan Andrei – Four Sticks – Kurbits
12. S.O.L. – Quantensprung 2 – Superstition
13. Flux Mode – Tumba – DNH
14. Jack Master – Bang The Box (Slam Remix) – Soma
15. Heiko Laux – Sun City – Kanzleramt
16. Dustin Zahn – Push It – Enemy
17. Santone – Be Right There – Som Underground
18. DJ Deep – Surge – Deeply Rooted House
19. Slam – Significs – Soma
20. Jeff Mills – Late Night (Mills Mix) – Tresor
21. Jeroen Search – Identity Matrix – Dynamic Reflection
22. Planetary Assault Systems – X Speaks To X – Ostgut Ton
23. Kerri Chandler – Coro (Kaoz 6:23 Dark Mix) – Nite Grooves
24. Mighty Thor – All the Shadows – Stockholm LTD
25. Jon Hester – Logan – Afterlife
26. Petar Dundov – Waterfall – Music Man