Jonas Blue DJ Set
In an era of slow-building careers, Jonas Blue is an anomaly. In just three years, the five times Brit Award nominee has become a pop powerhouse, a globally-successful songwriter, producer and performer with more than 6 billion streams and 35 million singles sales to his name. He could have stayed a singles artist, continuing to add to his armoury of platinum-plated, global hits and seeing his reputation as a songwriter, producer, DJ and talent-spotter soar.
But Jonas – aka Londoner Guy Robin – has never taken the easy option. It’s why he chooses to work with new or unknown singers, helping to launch their careers, rather than simply team up with chart stars. It’s why none of his songs sound remotely the same, why he refuses to be defined by genre, why he continues to surprise.
Blue, his debut album which was released in November last year, was his chance to push the envelope further, to take fans on a journey and to expose even more fresh talent from around the world. 15 songs feature 21 guest artists. Alongside seven huge hits are eight brand new tracks that take Jonas Blue in to new territory, that mix and match guests with explosive results, that prove that the man with the Midas touch is only just getting started.
“For a long time I didn’t believe in albums,” admits Guy. “It felt more refreshing to stick to singles. I liked to be able to move on every few months, to keep looking forwards. But I’ve never been all about having hits. If I was, I’d have made 15 Fast Cars or six Perfect Strangers. I’d get big guests on every song.
“Three years in to this, I’m as obsessed as ever with not repeating myself. On Blue, I delve in to different genres and try out new songwriting techniques. I worked with some incredible vocalists who inspired me in ways I hadn’t expected. There are several collaborations that I don’t think anyone could have seen coming.
“Some of my hits are on there, but the way I’ve arranged the track list is almost like one of my DJ sets. The idea is to take people on a journey. Some places they know, most they don’t. How the two mix was part of the fun of making the album.”
Having scored one of the summer’s biggest global hits with the irrepressible Rise, featuring the former Vine sensations-turned-chart newcomers Jack & Jack, Jonas Blue owned the autumn with Polaroid, his long-rumoured collaboration with Liam Payne. But in true Jonas style, he threw a surprise in to the mix in the shape of Lennon Stella, the Nashville TV series actress making her pop debut.
“I’ve wanted to work with Liam for a long time – I loved 1D,” says Guy. “Just before Christmas last year, we were performing at the same radio event in Birmingham and we talked about teaming up.
“When I started writing Polaroid with JP Cooper, we had Liam’s voice in mind. But what we didn’t want was a typical pop star/producer collaboration, so we went in search of another guest who could give the song a completely different dynamic.
“Someone suggested Lennon and I asked her to send me a voice memo on her phone. As soon as I heard it, I knew she was right. She flew straight to London and recorded her vocal on the same day as Liam. Initially she was down to sing the second verse, but the sound of their voices together was great, so she’s all over the song and duetting on the chorus.”
Blue persistently strives to swerve convention, perhaps nowhere more so than on the Spanish scorcher Wild. Featuring fast-rising Merseysider Chelcee Grimes (a pro female footballer who has already co-written hits for Dua Lipa, Kesha and Kylie), Argentinian actress and Latin Disney superstar TINI and Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican rapper Jhay Cortez, the aptly-titled Wild takes Jonas Blue in to carnival territory for the first time.
“Wild was written during my first ever session with Steve Mac and Chelcee,” says Guy. “Chelcee’s vocals are from the demo done on the day – so good I had to keep them. Because the song has such a global party vibe, I wanted various voices on there. So out came the pre chorus and in came TINI and then we persuaded Jhay to add the rap.
“Both Jhay and TINI are massive Latin stars, not artists I ever expected to work with. Putting people together is what I love to do. You never know what’s going to happen or if it’s going to work, but when it does you know you’ve hit on something new.”
Among the sonic surprises on Blue are the torch-to-EDM song Desperate and the ballsy Supernova, the former featuring Scottish folk-pop singer Nina Nesbitt, the latter the large-lunged Lancashire singer Charlotte O.C., who was tipped for fame in the early Noughties before her career stalled.
“Desperate is a very different type of song for me,” says Guy. “It was written in L.A. with Julia Michaels and I definitely let Julia take the lead. Her technique is so unlike mine and it was my chance to learn. The intro in particular is inspired by one of my all-time favourite songs, Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River.
“Nina is someone I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. I adore her voice and although her career didn’t quite take off as expected, I knew a talent like hers would come back round. Now she’s blowing up with her new music and we’ve done a song that’s unlike anything either of us have tried before.
“Ditto Charlotte. I didn’t actually know about her past. I wrote Supernova with Teddy Sinclair, who is not an artist anymore. I was searching for a voice similar to Teddy’s and Charlotte’s name popped up. She came to my studio and blew me away. There’s definitely a touch of Cher to Charlotte on Supernova. She’s a superstar-in-waiting.”
Blue opens with the celebratory Drink To You, featuring Zac Abel. It’s a ‘cheers’ to the fact that Jonas Blue resolved to make an album, a bottoms up to him doubling down. The album ends with Fast Car, the debut single that sent Guy’s career supernova in 2016.
So much has changed for the man who, until 2017, was still making music in his dad’s garage, but his drive remains the same. Now with his own label, Blue Future, established to promote the new talent that he and his manager, Aaron Ross, continue to discover and with a schedule that takes him all around the world all year, Guy could be afford to sit back and take stock. But moving forward is what Jonas Blue has always been about.