Jon will be with On The Rise through November and December every Sunday for a Winter residency. *Book 1on1 lessons with this DMC winner by clicking HERE

*No student discounts are available for these lessons

We had a chance to catch up with Jon1st, talk about his move to Leicester in 2008, his significant milestone of winning the 2013 DMC World Online Championships, how Jon boosted his career and sharpened his skills as he incorporated aspects of turntablism into his practice and his upcoming residency at OTR Academy.

You are based in Leicester. How would you say being based in the East Midlands has influence your unique sound and DJing style when the epicentres of music in the UK are in places like London and Manchester?

I moved to Leicester in 2008 to study at university after growing up and playing out around Surrey and South London, so have had experience living around bigger scenes and smaller regional scenes at different points in my early DJing journey.

I’d say the biggest difference in Leicester, from my experience, is that while there are less developed underground scenes in specific genres and subgenres here, there’s a big mutual respect between the different artists in terms of understanding each other. While we may make different types of music, we all socialise together and are exposed to each others’ music. Particularly when I moved to the city, dub and soundsystem events were really common and that had a big influence on how I make music. Similarly with club music, the club I used to run my beats and footwork events at, Sophbeck, also had garage, 140, house, techno and drum and bass events there and I was exposed to a lot more sounds locally at a time where I wanted to soak up as much as I could, so that had an impact on my musical tastes and subsequently my DJ taste for sure. There’s recently been an awesome local radio station called Lowertone here, which really brought a lot of people together from different genres too and I’m sure provided similar influence for the new generations of young people getting into DJing and producing.

Also living in a smaller city gave me a lot more local opportunities at the time that I perhaps wouldn’t have had in a more competitive big city. I was also close to Birmingham and was able to get involved with events there too when I was at university. There are certainly limitations in terms of quality venues that are open to non-commercial music and limitations in terms of creating a large local audience in smaller scenes, but with the internet and social media these days it’s much easier to build a wider following, and less pressure to try to achieve everything locally, which is something that has helped me massively too.

Your victory in the 2013 DMC World Online Championships propelled your career internationally. Can you share what that experience was like and how it shaped your journey?

I owe a lot to the amazing platform DMC provided me back then. Winning in 2013 in particular was a huge milestone for me and did so much for my career.

It was a lot of hard work – when I first started entering DMC in 2010, I was mainly a club DJ with a few years of playing out under my belt and I scratched a lot both in my sets and at home, and grew up studying battle videos and attended DMC every year, but becoming a battle DJ was never really on my radar. I hadn’t had too much competitive experience, especially in front of big crowds.

When I entered, I had a good picture of where I was going as a DJ and how to incorporate aspects of turntablism into my practice and my intention for entering battles was initially to gain some experience, sharpen up my skills and network in that scene a little. After my first attempt in 2010, I quickly became obsessional with improving and developing a style that combined what I loved about turntablism with music from the music scenes I was passionate about at the time.

My first few attempts at entering involved a lot of me learning about how to structure sets for the battle, developing parts of my technical skills that were lacking and gaining confidence on stage in that environment. The experience was pretty intense because I took it really seriously and was so hyper focused on it and put a lot of pressure on myself, but I learned so much and met so many amazing people in the process, my skills and confidence improved massively from the experiences I had and I got to perform at some amazing venues like the Indigo O2 at the O2 Arena in London in 2013.

The set I eventually won with completely changed my career. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time both with Serato and then the Rane 62 being allowed in the competition for the first time, which was the first mixer to have really useable cue point buttons for Serato as well as hardware effects on a mixer, which were previously not allowed in DMC, and that opened up a lot of new creative options that I actively explored a lot in my set. It was also a time where Facebook’s algorithm allowed users to share external videos freely and have a lot of people see them, and it allowed my set to be seen by a lot of people by it snowballing through various people sharing it over the first couple of weeks of it being online. I was put in front of loads of new eyes including a number of my turntablist heroes and I went from receiving local/national bookings to being signed by my first agent, Ben, and playing all over Europe. Even now, 10 years later, I still receive comments about the set and I’m so grateful for the opportunity and the support I received.

I learned a lot about time management around building a project during my time making battle sets, making sure I gave myself lots of time to experiment, then create and finally practice what I had created and also learning some self awareness about what went well and what didn’t, where I could improve etc, and what I do and don’t enjoy in terms of performing and all of those are lessons I took on board and have informed projects I’ve worked on since.

You have a wide-ranging international presence, DJing across Europe, North America, and Asia. How do you adapt your sets to different audiences, and what have been some of your favourite moments performing globally?

I always stick to my taste with gigs and make sure I consistently market myself with mixes so audiences have a good idea of what I am about, but I will pay attention to where I’m playing in advance of a gig and do some research about the event and adapt within my taste to crowds in the moment too. I’ll be reading the crowd and reacting to what they do and don’t like – I want everyone to be happy but I won’t compromise my overall sound in the process. While I found it tempting to play at everything that was offered to me, especially at the start, I’ve found specialising in a few things and being consistent and active over a long period of time and building up a fan base, and being careful about what types of gigs I do and don’t play to make my branding consistent, has vastly improved be chances to be booked more for the events I’m passionate about.

In terms of favourite moments, I love travelling and meeting people in general whether it’s nationally or internationally but to be honest it’s the experience of having a great gig where the connection between DJs and audience really click or times where I’m really excited by new music and things pop off that really stick with me. My run performing my collaborative live project with Shield in North America in 2019 – early 2020 was a big recent highlight; supporting MF DOOM in 2013; my 20/20 residency with Ivy Lab at Phonox in London; and my residency with Under The Counter in Birmingham in the late 2000s/early 2010s are all up there too.

Your collaborations span across various artists and genres. How do you choose who to collaborate with, and what has been your most memorable collaboration so far?

Usually I collaborate with producers or musicians I really click with as people and really appreciate as artists and usually they’re working in a style that’s different to what I do, so we make something quite different from what we would do individually. Writing with other people is always really memorable and I always leave with learning something be it a new outlook from a conversation or a new technical producer trick that we’ve used together. My collaborations with Shield, which turned into a pretty intense live set that we toured a lot in a short period of time, were an awesome experience and working with Stick In The Wheel, a folk band from London, recently led to some really interesting conversations on tradition at panel talks in venues I wouldn’t have usually been able to perform in. I’ve also loved writing with Arcane from Bristol in the last couple of years and we’ve both been really happy with how our recent Bloodstone EP for Defrostatica has been received.
You’ve been actively incorporating your turntablist skills into different creative projects. Can you share some insights into how these collaborations come about, particularly your work with Beardyman’s Dream Team and Birmingham’s Royal Conservatoire orchestra?

I was invited to stand in for JFB for the Beardyman project and it was incredibly fun and challenging, and I learned a lot in the process. The project was 100% improvised, where Beardyman would conduct the band through our in ear monitors and I’d have to respond on cue with a sound and in key very quickly, which is more challenging for a DJ than say a traditional instrument where a musician can quickly adjust to a scale, so developing a system for that was really fun! I played a few gigs with the group and each time I was learning new ways to perform, creating more original scratch tools to perform with etc. Beardyman’s an incredible musician, both in terms of his ability to improvise and be creative and also in terms of how he is really inventive with incorporating electronic instruments and software into his work, and seeing him work really blew my mind – his setup is really an extension of his creativity.

I became involved with the Royal Conservatoire during the lockdowns through Leicestershire Music Service, an educational organisation for schools here in Leicester, as part of some teaching and composition work I’ve been doing locally. I was invited to perform as a turntablist for some end of year concerts for schools in the area and, as part of the performances, the orchestra team decided to perform one of my tracks with Shield, which was a huge honour! The second time round, Jeremy, the orchestra arranger, and I collaborated on writing a track for the orchestra to perform, which I never imagined I’d be able to do. Again a huge learning experience and something I’m really grateful for.

Being at the forefront of the DJing scene, how do you stay inspired and continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the realm of turntablism and electronic music?

One of the ways I stayed inspired is by looking out for innovations in new DJ and production technology that I could incorporate into my practice, whether that’s new composition tools or sound design and effect tools. At the moment I’m incredibly inspired about stems integration in Serato DJ in particular and all the new possibilities for mixing and performance it can bring to DJing – being able to completely restructure tracks live is a massive game changer and has opened up so much in terms of transitions and finding new sounds to scratch and effect while mixing too.

With such a broad range of collaborations, live performances, and releases, what can your fans look forward to in the near future? Any exciting projects or collaborations on the horizon?

I’ve been working on a lot of different collaborative production projects this year with producers and musicians from different genres, as well as solo productions too. In terms of things I can talk about right now, I have a remix for Polish singer Ola Szmidt being released on 20th October on Accidental Records as part of the Rooted Explorations album, which was a lot of fun to work on. I also have a remix for Denver based producer Mux Mool being released on Old Tacoma Records in early 2024.

Link to Ola Remix:

When you start your teaching residency at On The Rise, what can the students expect?

I’m really excited to be back at On The Rise for this residency. My lessons are always student led and I’m a totally open book in terms of sharing what I’ve learned over the years to aid their progression. Some of the things I can offer in addition to performance techniques like scratching are advanced Serato tools like Stems, cue points, FX and loops and mixer hardware effect and tricks, such as performing using performance pads, as well demonstrating ways to incorporate those techniques into different scenarios and really make them a fluid part of your DJing style. This can include looking at ways to structure sets for battles, how to smoothly incorporate scratching and other tricks into club sets, how to record scratching in a DAW, how to create and prepare your own scratch tools, efficient practice schedules and making the most of your time when practicing and more.


Jon is taking booking every Sunday through November and December 2023 for his On The Rise teaching residency.

Subjects covered

– Beginner – Advanced Scratching Tuition
– Routine composition masterclasses for DJ battles (DMC/ 3style etc) using 2023 DJ Equipment with Serato DJ
Composing performance style routines for club DJs / incorporating advanced turntablism tricks in a club environment:
– routine composition
– incorporating mixing/scratching in key
– building and maintaining energy with scratching in a club
– scratching with FX
– advanced DVS mixer tricks in a club setting
– preparing scratch banks and custom scratch tools for mixing  in Ableton Live
– Preparing custom scratch tools  in Ableton Live
– Multitrack scratch recording in Ableton Live
– Production on Ableton Live
Price: £240 per 4 hours
Contact us HERE to book your lessons


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