Interview with A Superstar DJ
He’s played clubs all around the world, and alongside almost every single legendary DJ you can think of, including: Roger Sanchez, Pete Tong, 2ManyDj’s, Jacques Lu Cont, Danny Tenaglia, Sasha, Carl Cox, Andrew Weatherall, Sister Bliss, Erol Alkan and Boy George. In fact, Boy George named Jon one of his favourite DJ’s of all time and asked him to appear in the video of his epic song, ‘Generations of Love’. But it was actually Danny Rampling who first spotted Jon’s talent, when he saw Jon perform as part of cabaret act / drag terrorists The Pleased Wimmin at club night called Kinky Gerlinky in the early 90s. With Jon’s fashion credentials clearly already formed (he’d graduated from London College of Fashion, and some of his first mentors were Rachel Auburn & Leigh Bowery), his flamboyant cross-dressing and highly stylised appearance added golden aesthetic appeal to his incredible DJ sets.
Jon Cooper is undoubtedly one of the most talented UK DJs on the global scene and so we’re really fortunate that he’ll be playing at the unofficial after party of Croydon PrideFest at Mr Fox, especially as he’s just released his new single, European Love. This is a home-coming for Jon, as he grew up in Croydon, having come from the Congo (where he was born to missionary parents), as a young boy.
Jon, you’ve played sets around the world, what do you love about playing in London the most, and why?
I must admit that I love playing anywhere if the crowd are up for a good party.
I do have a soft spot for London as it’s where I spent my formative years and where my family still live.
What’s your happiest memory of Croydon as a kid? How has it changed the most since you were living here?
Croydon in the early 80’s was so different to now, I can remember when Macdonalds opened it felt so modern (hahaha). I think it was one of the first in the UK? I also used to love spending most of my time in Beano’s secondhand record shop. I did used to get quite a bit of flak for the way I looked back then, it was quite an aggressive place. I also remember spending nights in The Ship pub drinking snake-bite with all the freaks and going to see dozens of fantastic bands at a nightclub called The Underground.
What or who had the biggest impact on your love of music and/or fashion as a kid?
I think I always had a fascination with dressing up and playing characters. Pop Music was definitely a catalyst for this instinct. This was the era of Adam Ant, Siouxsie, Japan, Culture Club and Visage. This led me towards fashion college and night-clubbing. It was never about simply posing though, there was/is an element of escapism involved and I think escapism is highly underrated. Especially when you look at the state we are/were socially and politically. The climate now feels quite similar to those awful Thatcher years.
I would say that for sheer inspiration and the people who had the most impact on me during those years (and continue to do so) were - Barbara Hulanicki, Rachel Auburn, Leigh Bowery, Virgin Prunes, Kate Bush & David Bowie.
All your singles and mixes can easily be accessed on Spotify, Soundcloud and Mixcloud.
How has the increased availability of DJ mixes on the internet had an impact on your life?
Well to be honest, in the old days bootleg tapes were a huge business. Promoters / bootleggers used to record our sets and sell them on, most of the time without us even knowing. But looking back this helped create a huge buzz around certain DJ’s and let to official mix albums. I don’t think I would have been as successful as I was without this network of bootlegs.
I still get messages and requests all the time from people asking me to ID a track from an old mix. There is a nice kind of historical mythology to all that stuff now. Having everything easily accessible online is great but I do miss that kind of clamouring about for old tapes and white labels. The thrill of the chase and all that. PS I’ve got a new single called European Love that was released this week!
You clearly love both music and fashion. Is that in equal measure?
Oh yes definitely and for me they go hand in hand. I would say that not just fashion but visual ideas are what really get me excited. One of my favourite bands is U2 and what they do visually live is just mind-boggling, but does not really involve fashion as such, just exploring the latest technology to create a visual feast. Also people like the Michael Clark Ballet Company who mesh music/fashion/visual ideas.
What are your personal favourite upcoming new artists, designers, or recent discoveries?
I absolutely love Lizzo, for me she’s the perfect antidote to acts like Beyoncé who I just find a bit humourless. I also love a band called Cigarettes After Sex who make beautiful, bruised music. I don’t really follow fashion so much these days as it does seem to be a lot more corporate. But I love the fact that a whole new generation of queer teenagers are really expressing themselves. You could be forgiven for thinking it was the early 80’s again, with a lot of the looks going on just now.
If you could play alongside any DJ in the world, in any club, dressed in any designer, who/where/what would this be?
One of my supporters is a DJ called Eats Everything and he often gets me to play with him, which is great fun as he’s such a rocket behind the decks and a huge music lover. His energy is infectious. There should be some more sets with him coming later in the year and we’ve been threatening to make an E.P together for a while now.
I don’t mind which club as long as it’s not too big, is dark with smoke and strobes and has a major sound system (and a decent fan!). Clothes wise I make most of my own stuff these days but I wouldn’t say no to some vintage Westwood or Bodymap.
After a stonking set at Mr Fox, I’m buying you a drink: what’s your tipple of choice?
Oooh thank you, I’ll have either ice cold Champagne or Edinburgh Gin with Light Fever Tree Tonic and a slice of Grape-fruit please.
Thanks, Jon – see you on this Saturday (13th July 2019) for the Unofficial PrideFest After-Party at Mr Fox!
Find out more: http://jonpleasedwimmin.com/