Q&A: Jon Kong

Since forming in 2012, Leftwing & Kody have gone on to become two of the UK’s finest exports. Both Mixmag and DJ Mag named them as ones to watch a mere year after they paired up, with DJ Mag even nominating them for ‘Best Breakthrough DJ’ in their Best of British Awards.

Since then the duo have gone on to present a monthly Rinse FM show, earn residencies at Fabric (London) and Sankeys (Ibiza), as well as releases on Hot Creations, VIVa, Truesoul, Mobilee, Knee Deep In Sound, Sola, Relief, Solid Grooves and of course Toolroom as well as their own renowned imprint Lost Records.

We caught up with Jon Kong, one half of the duo, to catch up on the duo’s successes, production, and all things music.

First up, can you introduce yourself?

Hi Toolroom, so my name is Jon Kong, I grew up in Wembley in Northwest London, and that was where I first got into underground music. I was 12 or 13 when I got into Garage, and soon after started mixing those kinds of underground sounds. I quickly ended up on pirate radio. I got into House music when I was in my 20’s and I’ve been producing for about 10 years now, first under my real name and now as half of Leftwing : Kody.

How does the relationship between the two of you work, do either of you have prominent roles?

Previous to about 2 years ago we were always in the studio together, I’ve now moved out of London making it difficult for us to regularly get in the studio together. These days I’m doing production while Chris does the touring, he’s got his ear to the ground with finding new music and talent, whereas I jump in the studio and throw ideas about.

Soon after releasing music under Leftwing : Kody, you guys decided to launch ‘Lost Records’. Can you tell us a little about how that came around?

Lost Records was just originally a platform for us to release records from artists that support us, as well as those that we felt were up and coming. Mostly it was just for people’s music  who we were feeling at that time.

Since launching Lost, you guys have gone full circle from artist to A&R – what advice would you give to new artists looking to get signed by a label?

One thing I would say is take your time before sending stuff out. In the early days I’d be impatient and just send my music straight out to labels. I think you should live with music and make sure you’re sending it to the right label. Keep emails to a minimum with a few words about you, the track and your Soundcloud link.

These days it feels like you have a good working connection with Toolroom. Can you describe how your relationship has developed with the label since releasing ‘The Drums EP’ in 2018.

Toolroom is label that before Leftwing : Kody I used to release under Jon Kong. We have had a good working relationship for about 10 years. It’s been really interesting. Mark has kindly let me use his studio too. So, I’ve been around the Toolroom environment for a while now.

 

‘The Drums EP’ was your first ever release on Toolroom. What was your inspiration behind that one?

The year we made that one we were heavily influenced by the sound that was coming through at the time. We were really into low end groove and that tribal sound – the drums really came together like that and the rest followed. We wanted to do an EP with tribal groove and put our stamp on it with our Leftwing : Kody influence.

Let’s talk about your production masterclass – you recently made your debut recorded studio session with FaderPro. Could you give us a little insight into what exactly the course has to offer?

That was a really cool course – I kind of went into how I do my mixdowns, so basically a step by step process on mixing a demo for the club or an A&R. It’s the same process as my own that I use with any track to get it to that level.

Did you have any specific plug-ins or VST’s that you found particularly useful in that Faderpro course?

As for my plugins that I used in the FaderPro course – The Oxford Limiter is favourite, as is the Waves SSL Bus Compressor and Brainworx Bx_Digital V2.

What’s the best piece of advice you could offer to producers who wish to mix their own music?

So, number 1 tips would be to make sure your room is set up correctly, that’s so important. That or decent headphones. Number 2 I’d say to make sure you have the right reference material. Number 3 – watch the course.

Tell us a little bit about how you guys tackle your studio workflow. Do you have any tips for maximising your creative output?

Generally, before sitting down I try to have some kind of vision of where I’m going by way of sound or style. That’s and important one. Also focus on what your trying to do. Get an idea out in a day, for me that would usually be the main section and a small break.

You have a certain sound and aesthetic and maybe even technique that defines your music. What suggestion would you give to less established producers trying to carve their own sound?

It’s all about doing something a little different to what everyone else is doing – there’s so much music out there that sounds the same. Everyone’s doing the same thing. You can be that range that’s cool but step out of it and do something a little different, that’s what will make you stand out.

What would you say are the crucial pieces of hardware and software that you need for your sound?

For me, hardware, UAD Apollo Twin, and the UAD Satellite for sure. They help you get a real rich analog sound. As for software I’m really into UAD’s mixing plugins, as well as Rob Papen’s Sub Boom Bass and the Sonarworks Reference stuff.

What’s the next purchase for the studio? Any bits of tech you have an eye on buying, and why?

I actually just bought the PreSonus Faderport 16 DAW controller. It’s kinda like a production controller and a mixing deck. You can even control the plugins with it.

Finally, what else have you got lined up for 2019 that you can tell us about?

We just had a moon harbour EP out today (Friday 18th January) – Then we have a big EP out on Lost called ‘Keep on Pushin’ that everyone’s asking about. Then our summer track is coming out on Toolroom, it’s called ‘Feel It’. Then we also have an EP on circus called Chaos Theory and a remix on Circus for mambo brothers.

Make it happen

Learn how to make cutting-edge House and Tech House with our 3 month online Production Certificate taught by Ben Remember & Jon Kong.

LEARN MORE