If we can take just one silver lining from the rona and its many restrictions and frustrations, it’s this… 2020 has offered all artists a chance to totally reboot what you do and how you do it.
It’s something we’ve discussed in pretty much every interview we’ve run since March. Lockdown has inspired whole albums (see Redeyes – Selfportraits), it’s helped to bring exciting new artists to our attention (see Something Something) and, due to the almost entirely universal club shutdown, it’s made a lot of artists try new sounds, experiment and redraw new battle plans for when that all-elusive ‘normality’ returns.
This is the case of Porto-based SRVLNC bossman Joao Fragoso. For the last 10 years via releases on the likes of C4C, Red Light and PRSPCT we’ve known him as Fragz. But from now on, he’ll be operating under the new alias name of Jon Tho.
“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Joao explains. “But when lockdown happened then I knew it was time to do something. I wanted to come out of this shitty situation with something positive.”
It’s a mindset that should resonate with all of us, and certainly something we championed during our Anti-Virus series: using this weird time to improve our skills, change things in our lives we’re not happy about and not let COVID-19 win. For Sergeant Surveillance, it was all of this but also one of the most classic challenges an artist can find themselves in during their careers.
“I want to see myself free from the past,” laughs Joao whose attention is focused on a broader, deeper, melodic and emotional D&B palette. “There have been points in my career where I was going into the studio but felt locked. I’d start an idea and be really into it but realise it’s not really the type of music people would associate with Fragz. I was starting to feel trapped and creatively frustrated so with the new project I’m inspired again.”
Explaining how he wants to hit the heart first then the dancefloor, Joao highlights the new generation as a big influence in this new creative chapter. “People like Imanu, Gyrofield, Skylark, Caracal Project, so many more. Their sound is heartfelt, they have an energy and attitude about them. The way they do things is very inspiring. They don’t give a damn, they just want to make music and that’s exactly what I want to do with this alias.”
The debut Jon Tho EP, Sundials, will land on SRVLNC next month. Four tracks deep – ranging from the luxuriant synth intro of In Silence to the cosmic horsepower of the title track Sundials – it’s a total subversion to what Joao’s been doing as Fragz for many years and marks the start of an exciting chapter for himself and his label. Like Joao himself, the label which has undergone a new look which kicked off last week with the deliciously deep Confined from the usually raucous Audio.
Our new season kicks off with this single from Audio and alongside with it, we present you our new line of cover…
“I’m so proud to have Gareth on the label, he’s been an inspiration for many years,” explains Joao. “That tune is a perfect example of how to hit the heart then hit the dancefloor. That’s what we need right now.”
Having launched last year with the likes of Vowel, Screamarts, Freshney and Nickbee, SRVLNC has already been a radar essential since release 001. Now rebooted visually and its founder re-inspired sonically, the burgeoning Portuguese label remains a very exciting platform in D&B right now.
Jon Tho – Sundials EP is out on SRVLNC in October