The ART:SIDE DOWN with Jonathan Kaspar

Jonathan Kaspar has only been releasing music for two years, but they’ve already been placed on renowed labels like KX, Objektivity or Pets. And although the Cologne-resident was riding the HipHop train during his teenage years, you won’t be able to hear this influence in his productions.

I pretty much focus on the groove of a track and barely use vocals, if used at all. So that way, to start producing an own track is basically a rather open approach.

During his medical studies in Dresden, it became clear that he did not want to work in the medical field but rather do what his heart strived for the most, music. When he lived in Dresden, Jonathan was already involved with DJing. Since he didn’t own a car it was not easy for him to get to his gigs outside the city. ‘The only chance to make it to clubs was to organize a ride via ‘Mitfahrgelegenheit’, a former online-platform that arranges rides. So I had to drive with total strangers every weekend, hoping that they would drop me where I needed to be and on time. It never occurred to me that it might not work out, but thinking back I realize it’s kind of crazy that I was fully dependent on the reliability of the driver. Fortunately it always worked out and I made it to every gig.

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Kaspar, originally from Bonn, moved to Cologne after his studies as he preferred to live in a bigger city than his hometown. ‘I love the fact that you can go from point A to point B by bike in Cologne because I prefer short distances.‘ After a short adjustment period Kaspar began to feel at home and you can now find him in two of Cologne‘s influential nightlife institutions, Gewölbe and Odonien, where he holds a residency and hosts a night at. According to Kaspar, Gewölbe is one of the best clubs in Germany, saying with enthusiasm: ‘The club is built around the DJ-booth and has an excellent sound-system, not to mention the DJ-bookings which are pretty extraordinary for a city like Cologne. Any artist that played Gewölbe loves to come back.’ When talking about Odonien, Kaspar mentions the artsy aspect of the location: ‘Odonien is more of a location than a club because it’s basically a huge place between club and art. Besides the club-floors which has amazing soundsystems, the whole location has its own street art / art exhibitions which is impressive, because you always discover something new.

Kaspar is a pretty laid-back person. A track that reflects his personality the most is his own production, ‘Tidjani’, that was released on KX last year. ‘It drags on and on and then it hits you with a bang‘, he laughs. After being asked about his current favourite artists, Jonathan immediately replies with names like MYNY and Kalyma from SOLIDE, André Hommen from Objektivity and especially Patrice Baumel: ‘He is such a gifted artist and the melodies and baselines he comes up with are very special and refreshing.

The humble Cologne-resident does not hold back complimenting or crediting other artists, but also has a lot of music coming out himself:

His ‘Toona EP’ is about to be released on Dennis Ferrer’s label Objektivity, and another EP for Pets – called ‘Paradise‘ – will be out later this year, as well as some remixes which he doesn’t want to go into detail about.

Jonathan doesn’t really like to ‘label-hop’ as the labels he chooses gives his music the space and appreciation he deserves, he’s decided to release on only a few different labels.

Generally speaking, Kaspar‘s releases differ in terms of sound from label to label, but they still represent who he is and what he stands for. While his releases on Pets are a bit more funk, his tracks on Objektivity follow an African percussive approach, and still his EPs on KX combine percussive elements with catchy melodies. What he appreciates about all three labels is the easy way of communicating and the short ways to do so. ‘I like it personal. Kompakt (editor‘s note: KX is part of Kompakt) for example is five minutes away from my place by bike. So when my EP ‘Rantou/Tidjani‘ was signed I proposed a fantastic cover by my friend LaTeTe to them and it was just so nice to work this out with the guys of KX. So in the end the artwork by LaTeTe was used for the EP.

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Besides his upcoming EPs, Jonathan Kaspar tried his hand on a David Mayer track called ‘Sirocco‘. Usually the producer has a workflow in terms of starting a remix, which means he does not listen to the original version at first and only focuses on the stems that were sent. ‘When working on a remix, it has to be clear that you put your hands on the result. For me it is not necessary to create something completely different. It is more about the idea to create something new with the stems you were given, for example to turn a quite calm track into a trippy one.‘ But with the remix for David Mayer Kaspar had to choose a different route and work differently since he already knew the original. ‘I remember when I was asked to remix David’s track I found the original pretty strong already, so I thought that remixing this track would be quite challenging.‘ Nevertheless, he did it and a first draft was completed in under an hour. ‘It just flowed and went off very smoothly.’ The first feedback has been received already, before the remix will come out this Fall. Rampa basically premiered the remix in his latest Deep House Amsterdam Podcast a few weeks ago.

Jonathan Kaspar is not only a gifted producer, he is also a superior DJ as you can hear in his latest art:cast-episode for Torture the Artist. ‘In this mix I’ve picked tracks and music from friends like André Hommen, Braunbeck, Re:You or myself as I play all these tracks in the club at the moment. So for me, this Podcast is a good impression of my current sound. I am not making a difference, whether the music itself is being played at a club / at home or in the car – it’s the build-up of the set which is the most important for me.’

Listen to Jonathan Kaspar‘s art:cast for Torture the Artist.