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Ahead of their debut live show at Graffwerk on the 19th of April, Jon1st and Shield spoke to Matt Knight about what will be involved, the exciting new location and their tour to North America

Shield and Jon both met in 2016 at Phonox at an Ivy Lab 20/20 party and that started the talks of a possible collaborative project: “Jon booked me for a show in Leicester later that year, we recorded our first video over the course of a day and realised we worked well together and wanted to work more together,” Shield told me. Prompted by a single they worked on with Pioneer DJ, ‘Holla’, Jon explained how the project sort of fell into place, “It happened really naturally. We linked up a few more times in 2017 and made some more music together just to experiment and try ideas out, combining our respective production styles.

“After working on that Pioneer project we’d found a style and sound we were into as a duo, and we made the decision to pursue developing a long term project together.” 

   In attendance to the show you can expect to see a sublime spectacle of originally-crafted beats and a fluently choreographed live performance: “The show is us combining our shared passion for both beats and live performance, myself as a turntablist and Alex (Shield) as a professional percussionist. In the performance we are playing strictly our own productions and we are covering a lot of ground musically, everything from the wonky hiphop and 80+ bpm club music you’d expect from us, to 120-140 and other tempos too. We play each song live across a range of equipment and we’re able to make each performance unique by improvising certain moments in some of the tracks.”

   The event is taking place at Graffwerk, a location that accompanies the style of performance quite well. Shield mentioned: “We really love Graffwerk as a location. All the staff are passionate about hiphop culture, and, although our music is very influenced by bass music, both of us have strong roots and involvement with hip hop too - Jon as a battle DJ for several years and I was a Bboy for 12 years - we feel very much at home there. The Pomelo & Rocket cafe there make a mean-ass coffee too!” Jon added, “It’s a really beautiful venue, with a big open space and I think it’s a great location for the event.”

Dilesh Solanki - Jon 1st & Shield Duo 4
Dilesh Solanki - Jon 1st & Shield Duo 1

   Despite the technicalities regarding the performance, the show will still be rolling with an upbeat dance-floor orientated feel surrounding it. Jon continued: “Even though we’re performing and doing some more technical stuff, we have developed the show with the dance floor in mind: our focus is making people dance at the same time.” The location of the event was based on the idea of providing a unique environment for the debut show, “The whole set works in a club environment too, but we wanted to find somewhere special for this first event and provide an intimate space where the audience can see what’s going on with good lighting too. If people want to just watch and nerd out that’s totally cool as well.” Graffwerk have hosted a couple of DJs alongside gallery exhibits in the past, for instance with Grade 10 spinning tunes for the VZA-001 exhibit. 

   After their show on the 19th they will both embark on a tour around North America, something of which they are rather looking forward to, as Shield expressed his elation for it: “We’re really excited! We’ve both toured North America before but never together. The audiences at the venues we have played at there are really receptive and passionate about bass music and we’re excited to see how people react to the new show.” Their new show is set to introduce an enticing work of new, progressive beats, all in which are suited for many different club spaces and venues. Jon went onto say: “We’re playing at a pretty wide range of venues too, from outside at festivals, to live venues to basement clubs. We’re going to be doing shows with some other touring artists that we really like and local talent we’re big fans of too. The whole tour hasn’t been announced at the moment, so I’ll have to be a bit cryptic, but one of the shows has been booked by one of the biggest DJ inspirations and I’m really looking forward to that one in particular!”

   There’s a limited 50 tickets available for this performance, get your tickets quick for an intimate display of lovely beats and groovy riddems. Following their recent release of ‘Rush That’, you can expect more music coming from the duo with an accompanying music video alongside each track in the next coming weeks.

Matt Knight

March 25 2019

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