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Interview: Josh Butler & Bontan – “I’ve had my fair share of grim jobs”

Interview with Josh Butler & Bontan on Cone Magazine

We catch up with two of northern England’s fastest rising DJs Josh Butler & Bontan, ahead of their forthcoming show at motion for their Be True tour

Separate producers in their own right, they have been working together for over a year now on combined productions, live performances and radio appearances. Their 2014 release ‘We Found A Place’ has been receiving strong support from BBC Radio 1 DJ’s Pete Tong and Annie Mac, leading on to their UK tour ‘Be True’.

Josh Butler is certainly becoming a familiar face on the underground dance music radar having released records on; MTA, Definition Records and Keri Chandlers Madtech records. Butler won ‘Breakthrough DJ of 2014’ by DJ Mag as part of their Best Of British Awards.

Earlier this month he released his Rebirth EP on Lost Records, with remixes from Leftwing & Kody.

Bontan, another North England producer, started to gather wind with his productions after getting involved with the Southport Weekender. This led onto him making waves with his 2013 release ‘Hit From The Back EP’ released on Kraftek.

His meticulous attention to detail produces thick, bass driven grooves with a club ready sound. You can really hear this in his latest efforts on the Always You EP released on Suara earlier this month with Sonny Fodera. 

The pair have really cultivated a strong collaboration together, having found themselves featuring 2nd place on Beatport’s ‘best selling singles of all time‘ with Josh Butlers ‘Got a Feeling’ (Bontan remix, Pleasurekraft edit). 

The Be True tour has an ethos of “Keeping True to the Roots”, staging its events in iconic locations such as Ministry of sound, Sankeys and Arches. In the lead up to their appearance at Bristol’s Motion on 7th March, Cone editor Peter Malla catches up with the pair for a little get to know you session

Peter: Lets begin at the beginning. Before the music, tell us the worst job you ever had?
 Josh: Where do I start, I’ve had my fair share of grim jobs. One of them was probably working in a bakery when I lived in NZ. The job its self wasn’t the worst but my boss at the time was a fucking knob haha!
Bontan: My worst job was Woolworths. It was properly grim. Making sure kids didn’t steal penny sweets from the pick & mix.

Peter: When did you (quote, unquote) make It?

Josh: haha I guess it depends on your definition of ‘making it’ because I feel there is no end to where ‘it’ is. But I started to actually get paid for gigs in around 2012

Bontan : Yeah I still feel I have got a long, long way to go. But I started touring quite regularly at the start of 2014.

Peter: Music production can be a lonely business. Are you a ‘studio hermit’? If so, how do you keep sane?

Josh: I can be for sure. Much more so last year, however this year I’ve been making the effort to go outside in the day and interact with other humans.

Bontan: Im terrible for getting distracted in the studio. On the other hand, if i’m easily distracted from a track whilst producing it, means i’m not feeling it that much. So having things around me that can easily distract me keeps me sane!

Peter: Name a record you wish you’d produced, and why?

Josh: Faithless – Insomnia, I think its genius and its one of the first dance records I ever owned.

Bontan: Kings Of Tomorrow – Finally. Adore everything about that record.

Peter: We naturally assume all DJs are party animals. So, what’s your best cure for a hangover?

Josh: If possible drinking a tone of water before you pass out!

Bontan: Im terrible for hangovers. I honestly don’t know of a cure… If you find one let me know!

Peter: I’ll certainly try. So you guy must be friends, seeing all the work you do together. How do you normally hangout away from the music?

Josh: We were friends, Im getting sick of him after this tour though 😉 We have a mutual group of friends so just generally chillin. We have a Friday marathon planned for next week

Bontan: Yeah we try and keep music and hanging out quite separate otherwise we would end up killing each other. A Nandos is the usual hangout!

Peter: Your ‘Got A Feeling’ edit was a massive success (second best selling record of all time on Beatport, right?). Your workload must have got crazy after that?

Josh: Yes and no. I had loads of remix offers come in off the back of that but actually turned quite a few down. Last thing I want to do is take on too much work and not be able to give each project 100%. Right now I’ve got a great balance going.

Bontan: After the record did so well I was getting a remix request per day. But you don’t want to flood the market with music. I feel a slow steady release of records is the perfect combination with a busy touring schedule.

Peter: How do you like to relax?

Josh: Swimming, hanging out with my mates, watching coronation street. I try and keep my personal life pretty ‘normal’

Bontan: Jeremy kyle & cereal. Winner.

Peter: Let’s say that you get asked to write something profound for a fortune cookie message. What do you write?

Josh: Be yourself.

Bontan: Don’t work to be happy. Be happy to work

Peter: Thanks guys, great chatting with you. Best of luck for this weekend!

Josh & Bontan will be playing at Bristol’s Motion skatepark on the 7th March 2015. Buy tickets here


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