Jonas Blue talks ‘Mountains’, upcoming projects and his production process

Jonas Blue – one of the biggest crossover artists in the world with 17 billion streams and seven singles certified platinum and multi-platinum in the UK – recently spoke to Headliner about his latest track Mountains, his creative process and studio setup, as well as why he’s taking a ‘less is more’ approach to his touring schedule for this year…

British DJ and producer Guy James Robin – known professionally as Jonas Blue – has been on a high since he released his debut album Blue in 2018, a record that was certified gold in the UK and was the winner of the BRIT certified Breakthrough Award. He has continued to replicate the album’s success in the years following, having been nominated for five BRIT Awards and collaborated with some of the biggest names in dance and pop, from Becky Hill, Rita Ora and Joe Jonas to Paloma Faith, Nina Nesbitt and RAYE. His electronic dance version of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, as well as his track Perfect Strangers with fellow songwriter JP Cooper, have each reached a billion streams on Spotify alone.

Calling from his London studio, Blue tells Headliner that he’s planning to use the month of June as a benchmark to get a bunch of songs wrapped up and finished. His latest track Mountains, a massive, unwavering floor-filler featuring Galantis and Zoe Wees, has already set the tone for the summer, and has gone down a storm since its release. As far as his touring schedule for this year goes, Blue reveals that he’s “definitely trying to do less”, having performed at a staggering 100 shows in 2023.

“To be able to tour, make music, and mix my songs was too much, so this year I'm just trying to find a better balance,” he says. “I’ve taken on less shows this year, and I’ve just been in the studio a bit more to get this music finished, because things move so fast these days with release schedules and whatnot. I really love touring but being on the road 24/7 is a lot. I love to be in studio sessions writing songs, and being home with family and friends a bit more.”

Describing tour life as “one big everlasting party”, Blue will be back in Vegas soon for his residency at nightclub Zouk, a spot he has held for the last three years. He’s also looking forward to playing at LIV in Miami, showcasing his ongoing project in collaboration with Dutch DJ and producer Sam Feldt. “Then I’ll have a show in November at KOKO, which I’ve never played before, so I’m looking forward to that,” he reveals.

I’ll never start with a kick drum, bassline or vocal chop. It will always be the melody first.

Like many, Blue is keen on keeping his fitness and wellbeing in check, which can sometimes prove tricky when faced with such a packed touring schedule. To that end, he’s been making some small changes to his routine to make sure he stays active physically, mentally and musically:

“I was training really intensely pre-Jonas blue, and then I kind of let it slip because my music career ended up getting so busy,” he recalls. It’s just a lifestyle thing for me now. I still train every day if I can. The first question I ask when I get to a hotel at 10 in the evening is if the gym is 24 hours. It’s about changing that perspective in your head and making it part of your routine, even if it’s 10 minutes on the treadmill, because you would spend that time sitting on your phone looking at Instagram anyway.”

When it comes to his creative process, Blue writes music in a surprisingly traditional way. With his music being so melody-based, he tends to always start on the piano – an interesting acoustic approach for a dance music producer. Sometimes it begins with a Splice loop to kickstart the session, but he admits that he never usually prepares too much because he gets bored easily.

Credit: Frank Fieber

Credit: Frank Fieber

“For me it’s just a case of whatever comes to my head and through my fingers onto the piano,” he says. “I’ll never start with a kick drum, bassline or vocal chop. It will always be the melody first.”

Over the last few years, Blue has gone fully inside the box with his production, and admits that while he does have some really nice outboard gear knocking about his studio, the time sensitivity of some of his projects means he rarely gets the chance to load up analogue synths into his chain.

“One of my favourite things is the grand piano that we have here in the live room,” he says. When I start a session on that as opposed to the computer, with everyone standing around you, gives a real energy and there’s something really special about it. We’ll just be there for a solid half an hour vibing out ideas, and I'll start building out the production in my head before I even get to the computer.”

When he does make it to the computer, Blue has a number of plugins that he finds himself going back to on his mixes, yet simultaneously tries not to overcomplicate things. Serum from Xfer Records is a staple, he says, and he often finds himself getting lost in all the new sounds and presets available. Diva is another that he uses heavily for bass, along with Monark – available within Reaktor – which he describes as “almost like a mini Moog replica, amazing for sub basses and for getting a real thick tone.

“I used to have this thing printed out in one of my old studios. It was a quote from Max Martin, which said, ‘If you can't hear it, delete it.’ So for me now, it's actually about trying to add as little as possible, while also making the song sound as big and as full as possible. When it comes to the mix downs, it's more just a case of balancing for me these days. I use as little compression as I can, and try to keep things organic and minimalistic.

“I'm just trying things out and looking to do different things this year,” he continues as we round up the conversation. “I’m going to release a mini album at some point soon with JP Cooper; it'll be just me and him because we write together so much. I think there's such great history there from the songs that we’ve done together. A lot of people don't know this, but JP wrote Polaroid as well, so we've been writing together for years. I thought, you know what, why don't we just put out an album, where it's just a bunch of the amazing songs sitting on my drive that should be out there in the world! So this year is just going to be focused on singles, with a couple of collaborations here and there. I’m also going to be upping the remixes this year; there’ll be the mini album with JP at some point, and then hopefully a fully fledged one next year!"

(Lead image credit: Frank Fieber)

Listen to the full interview with Jonas Blue on Headliner Radio, here: