slow magazine the revolution will be photocopied
     

slow #2/summer 1998

Jon Carter: superstar DJ of the big beat scene whose band Monkey Mafia supported Roni Size/Reprazent on tour last year. Three proper singles had been released by the time we spoke to them — Blow The Whole Joint Up, Work Mi Body (featuring Patra and re-released this autumn) and Lion In The Hall — The debut album Shoot The Boss is out now on Heavenly. And he foolishly let us come backstage for a chat.

How does being in control as a DJ differ from being in control of a band?
Carter: It's a lot more work obviously, For DJing it's just putting one record on after another. Yeah. It's a lot easier now because now I just go on and do another lot, do some chalking (talking?) and an amount of Martini. It's all been set up and we can concentrate and at the end just come in and do it. It's completely different. Pretty decent job. You gotta do it — it's justifying. You can't just have a career out of putting someone else's records on. You gotta make music and to make music you've gotta go out and do it.

When you produce music is it just you, or the whole band?
(Carter mentions various people who come in and "do a bit of scratching or whatever" and do vocals). We haven't done any recordings straight as all of us, apart from our version of the Doors thing (called Hula Nation according to Future Music, but as a radically different version Healing of the Nation on the album). That's going to be changed next year, because we've been on the road. But at the moment it's just me producing things. I do a remix and everyone fucks off.
(others in band start joining in)
—That's because you sit up all night and do 'em. Next day I arrive and you're still doing it! You're still on those bloody mushrooms as well.

Are you having a good time or does it feel like work yet?
I can't sleep much longer in that bed.
— His bunk still looks like his front room, man. There's no room as there's so much shit over it.
— Johnny Sleepy.
— Johnny can't say hello because he sleeps easy.
— Johnny Sleep-easy.

When I saw you at Glastonbury '97, it was amazing. I missed Echo and the Bunnymen (happily) and walked all the way over.
Did you see us at Glastonbury?
Everyone I knew was there, but they were all watching Echo and the Bunnymen.
The PA people cocked up. Glastonbury was only our second/third gig, and a couple of thousand saw us, which is not bad.
— We're getting big in circles. Outdoor sounds.
Seeing us in tents is indoors. Can't do it outdoors as the wind blows the bass.

Have you taken the opportunity on tour to get up to new rock exploits? You haven't kidnapped Mary-Anne Hobbs or anything like that?
— His underpants done that.
What do you think of her show?

I like what she plays.
What's all this about you going to Rio just as an excuse to get out of doing her show?
She asked for a DJ set. (someone) said "No, we'll do a live set". I just spent a week in South America before I got here.
What are you going to do when this tour finishes?
I've got one more song to mix down, then the album's finished.

What does the album sound like?
— Go on, tell them the truth — it sounds shit!
I've done most of it in my sleep. It's madness, mate. there's a lot of really dark stuff, cos with 25 remixes I've got loads of big beat stuff out of the system. Breakbeats, funk — here ya go, mate! There's really twisted things. More than half of it is vocal. There's different versions of the singles. It builds up for the first half-hour then kicks off. Then soothes you off.
Gives you a blow job
Jacks you off, sings you a lullaby.
It's not this load of breakbeats. A lot of really mad different stuff. Doing 25 remixes, people expect you to do a breakbeat album, but you can't do what people expect. There's no cheap shots.
Any trouble with samples? There's been the Doors sample, the Who sample...
Got a lot of clearance. Can't do it without.
Has Patra heard your track?
No idea. Someone says "Go and clear that sample." It goes off into the record company, goes across the Atlantic to real wankers where they won't even play it to her. She probably doesn't even know if exists. She might have heard it now for the remix version now being cleared.

Is your DJ name bigger than the band's name?
I knew the band before. It was a nightmare getting attention. I never tried to be a DJ — I was going to be a producer, make tunes and then go out and do it live. I spent the last year DJing loads. It's a bigger name than the band but it's also connected to it and given us a wicked platform. It's quite different watching six people. I used to engineer jungle stuff, I've run sound systems and done bands for ages and ages. I won't go into details of what happened.
Why is it all the Heavenly Social DJs have formed bands? There's the Chemicals and Richard Fearless (Death In Vegas)...
I come from a bands background. It's always been about playing live music and scene-setting. DJing is like a band without the band. DJing is live as fuck and that guy knows exactly what he's doing with those breaks and those noises. They have to do that live. It can last for ages and it does work. Those bands should happen — it would be wrong if they didn't. Ceasefire is going to be a band and one that has to happen. Lots of music is chainsaw music to me — no soul.

On your picture you look really old. but the press release says you're 24. Truth!
I'm 27.
We said truth!
— It's all those journeys he makes to the saunas.

We get to speak to MC Dougie – aka Silvah Bullet (apparently) — and we ask:
The Work Mi Body sample is used more as a sexual invitation, but live it was more "be wary, be careful, I might come along".
What I'm saying is "Listen, man!". What I'm trying to say is be careful of certain women because they can be like a jezebel which is these tricksters. They might look good and fit or whatever, but be careful. That's what my mum showed me — be careful.
Carter: I made that record before I met Dougie.
What did you do before Monkey Mafia?
I was doing sound systems with jungle DJs. I've done a few jungle shows, garage shows, speed garage shows, hip hop shows. Toured across Europe.
Do you miss the chance to freestyle with Monkey Mafia, or do you still do that?
If I feel the tune and it comes into my head and it starts to kick off, yes.

Look! We made it to the big time, appearing on the "mighty" Mary Anne Hobbs' Radio 1 Breezeblock show, in the Monkey Mafia tour diary:
Carter and assorted members: Norwich next... we had a bit of a breakdown in Norwich, ended up staring at a load of ducks. We didn't have a guest list in Norwich, so we put the ducks on the list and they all came down and supported us... and speckled hen... and we should also give a shout out to the interviewers in Norwich, who ate their words. The guy in Norwich just wouldn't leave, it was like: have you seen Roni Size? "No, not yet". You should see him... "Yeah, yeah, I will"... No, no, you should go and see him. GO AND SEE RONI SIZE! At which point I ripped up his interview questions, he ate them, chewed them and then I forced them down his throat and politely asked them to leave.

 

 

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