“I try to write songs that are timeless,” says Jonas Blue about his signature sound
Sidhantha Jain · December 18, 2018 · 4 Minute Read
Guy James Robin, better known as Jonas Blue, was in India recently and OnRecord had an opportunity to have an exclusive conversation with the 29-year-old dance music producer revolving around his debut album, Blue, his choice of collaborators, and signature sound.
How excited are you about your first visit to India?
I am really excited to be here since I know I have a huge following here and it’s taken some time for me to get here. It’s the perfect way to finish off the year!
How do you feel about the positive reception on your debut album Blue?
It feels amazing because for a long time I didn’t actually believe in the concept of albums in this day and age. People compile a playlist together and create an album themselves. I ended up understanding, what people wanted from me in an album is diversity. There are so many people who I worked with on this album, which wouldn’t have been possible if I were to release singles. I have a collaboration with a new artist called Arlissa; Sabrina Carpenter; a track with MK and Becky Hill; Joe Jonas; Shungudzo and ZieZie; my own single “Rise” and then “Polaroid” with Liam Payne and Lennon Stella. I have been able to try so many different techniques of production and songwriting on Blue!
What was the reason to continuously release singles before an album?
Honestly, there was a particular reason to release songs back to back this year. I didn’t do it last year. I just got a lot of approaches; Sabrina Carpenter wanted me to work a song with her, so we did it. MK, the house legend, wanted to work with me, so we did it. There was just a lot of stuff that came up and all of it was released out at a certain time that made it feel like they came out back to back but that wasn’t really the plan.
Your first single was a cover of “Fast Car,” why did you debut with it instead of an original track?
People think that “Fast Car” was intentionally meant to be my first single but it wasn’t. I made “Fast Car” in 2015 and it was just a song that I made for my DJ sets. I wasn’t even Jonas Blue back then. What ended up happening was, at the Amsterdam Dance Event, people heard it and tried to sign it. I landed a deal with Positiva and it went to do this massive thing!
What people didn’t know, I was doing this for a really long time and I have studied pop music as well as songwriting. When I came out with “Perfect Strangers,” people were like, “Oh. This guy can write music,” then I followed it up with “By Your Side,” “Mama” and “We Could Go Back.”
How do you choose your collaborators?
All collaborations are different. My favorite song on the album is “Wherever You Go” with Jessie Reyez. She actually sent me a voice note from her iPhone of her playing the guitar and singing the song. I fell in love with it. I had wanted to collaborate with Jessie for a long time, she has two songs on Eminem’s Kamikaze, she has written “One Kiss” and “Promises” for Calvin Harris. She’s just incredible!
The Kaskade collaboration (“Come Through“), was a song I wrote in New York and it was just sitting in my hard drive. Kaskade messaged me “Let’s do a collab” and I sent that particular track to him. He reverted with some production, I finished it and it just sounded amazing!
Then there’s “Rise”. I heard these two guys (Jack & Jack) being interviewed on the radio in LA and I had no idea who they were. I went back to London, wrote “Rise” and sent it to them saying, “I was really inspired by your interview on the radio and I made this song because of it. Can you sing on it?” I remember it was the Coachella weekend, they got back on Monday, recorded the vocals and in about a week we were shooting a music video in Portugal!
There are crazy situations of how it happens and I am totally open to everyone.
If you had to define your signature sound, how would you describe it?
I think the way to describe my sound is, melodic, positive and I try to write songs that are timeless.
On those lines, what’s your take on artists moving away from their original sound to make radio-friendly material?
I am fine with anyone doing it. However, I think people can figure out when it is forced. My music has my sound; it has my stamp on every beat. I have managed to progress from “Fast Car” to “Polaroid” but that has happened slowly.
How do you manage to strike a balance being relevant in terms of sound and stay connected to your roots?
It’s about being aware in my opinion. I listen to a lot of new music; I use streaming platforms to find new artists; I use the radio to what’s happening now and see why people like certain songs. One part of my brain is busy doing that and other is working on what I do best.
What do you think about the current state of the dance music industry?
At the moment, if Calvin Harris and David Guetta were doing what they were doing 10 years ago, you won’t have songs like “One Kiss.” You will always have people who will say “I prefer the Calvin Harris or Guetta from 2008” because a song that they made then, struck a chord with that person’s life and how they felt then. You have to move forward with time as you are involved in the pop culture. You have to evolve or otherwise, you’ll fall behind.
What was the thought behind the Japanese version of “Perfect Strangers” by South Korean girl group AOA?
In places like Japan, it is the same as India where the fans are so devoted to music and artists. They are in a place where it is important to interact with them and make music for them as well; sometimes specifically for them.
If you are having those weekday blues, kill them with Blue, on JioSaavn.