Art Department’s Jonny White talks life as a solo act and new Fabric mix
As far as underground house music is concerned, you’d be hard pressed to find a more authentic act than Art Department. Since 2009, Canadian veteran Kenny Glasgow and No. 19 label owner Jonny White have been championing some of the purest house music around under their collaborative guise. While their individual roots in the scene run much deeper than the project itself, their impact as Art Department in the last six years has been nothing short of monumental.
More recently, Kenny Glasgow announced his departure from the group. Citing a desire to pursue his own productions, Glasgow has launched a solo project while Jonny White will continue to bear the flag as Art Department. Far from a tumultuous ending, Glasgow and White remain on friendly terms — in fact, Kenny will be releasing his new album on Jonny’s No. 19 imprint.
To give us the inside scoop on the future of the group, we picked Jonny White’s brain on everything Art Department in 2015. Aside from a performance at Movement Festival in May, White was also asked to compile Fabric 82 for the legendary mix series.
When we reach Jonny, he’s back home in Barcelona after his first show in Ibiza at DC-10.
Tell us about Movement – how was it having Kenny join you on stage?
“Movement was a good time as always. I love that festival. Sadly our mainstage performance was sabotaged by technical issues. The turntables were bouncing all over the place and I had planned to play an all-vinyl set. Channels 1 & 2 on the mixer were bleeding like crazy as well so not only was I unable to play any of the music i had planned to play, we were only able to use 2 CDJ’s on two channels. As you can imagine that was a bit of a nightmare after so much anticipation about playing mainstage this year. Regardless of that it was really nice to do the show with Kenny. I heard rumours circulating that we did the show together because of contractual obligations but that wasn’t the truth. We decided to do Movement together because that festival has meant a lot to both of us and we’ve been going there together for the past 10 years. Wouldn’t have felt right – playing mainstage for the first time without him.”
How has life been treating you so far as a solo act?
“Life has been good.. Not a lot has changed really. There’s been a bit of having to explain that Kenny and I do not hate each other and that we didn’t get into a fight or anything crazy which people assume was the reason for the split. There was a lot of commotion about it for the first week after the announcement but the truth is that the media just likes to latch on to whatever news might possibly become the most negative, which also seems to be what people get most excited about and when it isn’t as horrible or explosive as people assume, they forget quite quickly. Thankfully there are idiots like Ten Walls to appease everyones need for that shit. Watch how quickly even that will be forgotten. It’s a fast food mentality with high turnover and short attention spans. People just don’t care for long. The only people who truly matter are our real fans and our friends and all that concerns them is the music and the friendship between Kenny and I… both are intact.”
How do you think the style / direction of Art Department will change as a solo act?
“A little bit less showmanship during shows… ok a lot. As for the music I honestly couldn’t answer that. I can only say it’s pretty much a full boycott of anything that I don’t consider to be house or techno in its truest form. I want nothing to do with anything that isn’t representative of that when it comes to this project and I think thats an important idea right now. I feel like preserving the roots of this music is so important now with younger generations coming up, having not had what we had culturally and musically when we grew up on this music. I’m just looking at this as an opportunity to use a great brand we’ve created to expose people to the music I’m most interested in.”
What’s your new Fabric 82 mix all about?
“It’s about doing what I do the best way i know how without having to really consider the other half of what the equation has always been when working on projects for Art Department. It’s really just about capturing a moment. This is what I feel is truly representative of me as a DJ in this moment and of underground dance music.”
How did you go about selecting records for it?
“Well that’s always a bit of a nightmare and a process for me. It was a couple of months of digging through records while working on the programming and going back to digging to find the record that will fit perfectly into every spot. I’m completely OCD about compilations, I know they are going to be around forever and a Fabric mix is one of, if not the, most important ones. Let’s just say a lot of thought and paranoia went into it.”
Is this mix representative of a new sound for AD?
“No I can’t say that it is. Im not going out of my way to reinvent this project now, it’s not as if I was doing something that wasn’t me before and now I have broken free. The sound will naturally change because I’m 100% in control of it now but nothing’s planned. I have always been into stuff thats a little bit more left of centre, like far left, and likewise always been very into dubbier stuff so there will be a lot more of both. My taste and interests change and evolve quickly though so the sound of AD today likely won’t be the same in a year from now..”
Do you have any particularly cool stories or memories from fabric? What does the institution, and being asked to do this mix, mean to you?
“Being asked to do the mix is another landmark achievement in an artist’s music career. As a techno/house artist there aren’t too many projects that you get to work on that really give you this same gratifying feeling. It’s a little bit to that “I signed my first record” feeling and after so many years in the business those are few and far between — and very much appreciated.”
Fabric 82 will be released on June 22