Jon Rundell has been a big part of Carl Cox’s operations for some time now, having been asked to join his label Intec as an A&R and label manager a decade ago in 2006. Now a recognisable figure at home in the UK as well as in Ibiza and further afield, Rundell has been responsible for the launch of Intec’s digital imprint, a long line of bumping parties and releases on labels including Loco Dice’s Desolat, Intec and his own Etch recordings. Speaking to him ahead of a show at Tobacco Dock on New Year’s Day, we grilled Jon on all of the big topics as we sought to get to know one of the most quietly influential figures in underground dance music.
Hi Jon, how are you doing? Seeing as we’re looking ahead to your show at Tobacco Dock on NYD, let’s start with a look back at the year you’ll be bidding farewell to. Has 2016 treated you well?
It’s been really good thanks, summer was the busiest so far and it feels like most corners of the globe have been covered, Intec went up a notch with its releases and we are rounding it off with our Pure Intec Compilation that Carl and I have mixed. I managed to get more time in the studio too somehow and was proud to remix Josh Wink’s ‘Talking To You’ record as well as getting my first EP out in about a year [Warped on Intec]. Looking back, it’s been a very productive year so I’m happy with how it’s gone as something to keep building upon.
Top of the bill at Tobacco Dock is the living legend that is Carl Cox, who has just waved goodbye to his Music Is Revolution party after 16 years at Space. What are your feelings on the end of an era for the Ibiza titan?
Everything has to stop at some point realistically, and of course it’s sad and leaves a big gap in our lives now that it has. I think it’s come at a logical time though in terms of what Carl represents on the island and the direction it seems to be taking. If Space had not decided to call it a day I’m certain he would still be there every Tuesday, but after such a strong relationship with a joint vision on how people should come and enjoy music, to me it makes sense to also finish a residency there at the same time after all these years for him. To have built what he has alongside the club for all those years is an amazing achievement and it will always be remembered in that way.
Given you have been in charge of both Intec Records and Intec Digital, your relationship with Carl must be pretty strong. How did you come to be such close partners?
I think it was because I was just a lad who was into music of all kinds, like Carl, and it was really this that bonded us more after we’d initially met a few times over the years. We have a love of music, pure and simple, we often chat about soul records, drum & bass records, hip hop, funk, house and techno. You name it musically, we can talk about it together, and have fun doing so. After this I think it’s just from being consistent in my work with him. I think it’s also because I’m pretty grounded and perhaps that has been a reason too. Other than that you’ll have to ask him why!
NYD will also see you line up alongside the likes of Hot Since 82, Butch and Dubfire; are you already well acquainted with all of your accomplices on the night or are there any that you’ll be meeting for the first time?
Most of them yes, Dubfire I bump into regularly enough and we have played some parties together over the years. Hot Since 82 I don't see too much but we’ve been on parties on the odd occasion together in recent times. Butch I’ve so far never met but as a producer he is right up there for me and I’ve often played his tracks. His remix of Cassius’ “Go Up” this year is one the best house remixes I’ve heard all year, so hopefully I’ll get to meet him and tell him that in person.
How does playing at a party on NYD compare to other big occasions?
I guess it’s still part of the celebrations of the year. It’s actually my first time doing a NYD party for a while so I’m hoping the atmosphere will be the same as NYE. I’m sure it will be, as people will be specifically coming along to enjoy this party. Everyone will have made their resolutions the night before and will then go and break them within 24hours too I imagine!
What’s ahead for you in 2017?
More of the same, plus lots more studio time and more releases than this year. There are some places I would like to work towards experiencing playing as well so this is also a big focus in the new year. We will do more Intec events again next year too as we launch a new compilation series, so I’m looking forward to getting the label out on the road again and supporting the artists as much as possible.
The demise of Fabric, a club that you know intimately, has raised no small amount of concern at the state of UK nightlife. Is all the doom and gloom justified?
It’s a really uncertain time here in London right now, as well as the rest of the UK. It seems that most areas of the arts are under pressure, not just the dance music scene. The Curzon Cinema in Mayfair is looking like it’ll also have to close down, the oldest cinema in the city, as developers from nearby have asked them to soundproof it and they just don't have the means to. When you look back on all the great art and music that’s surfaced from the UK in all these years we are right up there with some of the best and well known people in the world to have provided it. If you slowly start to strip away those very places that people can go to express themselves, and understand themselves and who they are at the same time, then I’m really not sure that in the end the UK will still be uncovering some potentially great talent out there that everyone can appreciate and enjoy. I think some of the doom and gloom is justified but we stand up for what we believe in and show the powers that be that this is something serious that we all strongly feel about to make them realise the impact it can have.
Your Crate Diggin’ feature for Fabric was an interesting read, and not only for the eclectic tunes listed as your “5 Most Inspirational Records”; in the description of Danilo Vigorito’s “Vision”, you talk about hearing it at a London party and the DJ refusing to tell you what it was. As a DJ in demand, do you prefer to help punters out with their ID requests or keep your cards close to your chest?
If it’s released then I’ll always tell people, and I always do online or in person when asked. If it’s unreleased, some artists like to hold it back from everyone knowing yet, and in this more on-demand culture we now live in with music, it makes more sense to let everyone know as it’s released really in my opinion too. There is also the view from a DJing sense that it’s good to try and make your sets different and unique to everyone else, and avoid playing tracks that everyone else is playing, or you just become another DJ. If I have a record that is unreleased and feel is particularly hot (and considering to sign), then in this instance I personally would not say what it is. I’ve tended to amend the track titles for these types of tracks now as there was one time another DJ saw who a track was by, contacted the artist to ask for a copy and then hammered it out for months before we were able to release it.
(Jon Rundell at Fabric, a favourite venue before Islington Town Council revoked its license)
You must have played with some great young DJs over the last year or so. Who do you tip for big things in the new year?
Carlo Lio hands down. He is already well on his way to be fair but I think he has the dedication, talent and skill in both production and DJing to keep rising. He has his own sound and style and he is very consistent. We met some years ago and he has always been the coolest other DJ I’ve met that was also coming through, it’s been great to share the booth with him when we have been able to, as well as get to know each other over the years.
With Fabric and Space as topics, we’ve talked a lot about closings, but let’s shift the focus back to what’s ahead and finish on a positive. If you were to find yourself at the decks when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, which track would you choose to welcome in 2017?
I’d probably play something like Inner City’s “Good Life”, as you can’t help but feel good when you listen to a track like this with its lyrics and famous piano riff. Starting the year off feeling great would be my main objective here I guess. It’s also a record you can build from too so as not to go all out on the beats from the start and leave yourself no room to take the music in any direction you decided at the time.
Jon will play Tobacco Dock on Saturday 1st January alongside the likes of Carl Cox, Hot Since 89, Dubfire and more. Anyone looking to start 2017 off the right way ought to pay close attention to this one.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Jon Rundell