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THE 'NEW GEN' SERIES - JONAS SAALBACH

Updated: Oct 7, 2021



Given his young age, German-born Jonas has already built quite an incredible reputation for his euphorically uplifting and stunning emotive soundscapes with releases on Einmusika, Bedrock and his own incredible imprint Radikon.


Where many artists go into producing only after years of DJing, Jonas seems to have taken the opposite approach and his decision to move to Berlin to pursue his musical dreams has really paid off. Over the past decade, Jonas has performed at hundreds of locations over five continents including Burning Man, Fusion Festival, his now infamous Cercle performance which has been seen by over 10 million viewers!! [YES… you read that correctly... TEN MILLION VIEWERS worldwide!] as well as his newest live stream for TIME:CODE which if you haven't watched yet.. you need to do so ASAP! *you can thank me later ;)


As a producer, Jonas is exceptionally prolific. He already has three LP's under his belt - Ancient Lake, Perspective and Reminiscence - and has managed to produce several EPs year after year. His sophisticated, hardware-based style gives unusual and particular sounds a new life, morphing them into timeless dance floor anthems filled with emotion and percussive energy.


In 2018, Jonas co-founded electronic imprint Radikon as a platform for like-minded artists. Based at his studio in the historic Funkhaus complex in Berlin, Radikon has quickly become a collaborative epicentre of dance music with 20 critically acclaimed releases in its first two years alone and his latest release, a new album called 'Headlights' was released on both vinyl and digital only a few days ago!


Jonas’ energetic live performances and singular brand of melodic house and techno has enthralled listeners and club-goers around the globe. As a producer, DJ, live act and label owner, he will remain a driving force in dance music for many years to come.


So without further to do: Jonas Saalbach



So let’s start at the beginning…. I know you come from an audio engineering background so my 1st question is: How were you first introduced to electronic music? Where did it all start for you? Tell us about that first real ‘moment’ you got hooked on the scene. The first time I got in touch with electronic music was when my cousin started DJing. He was producing Drum n Bass and mixed vinyl in his bedroom. I was 16 years old at the time and I really enjoyed everything about it. It was also around this time that I started to understand what he was actually was doing! It was about 2 years later and I remember him showing me some records by Rekorder, Eulberg, Bodzin and Trentemoller and they all really blew my mind! The melodies and sound design massively touched me (emotionally) and so I started producing Melodic Techno. At SAE (School of Audio Engineering) in Frankfurt, the classes weren't so much about electronic music. The focus there was more on recording bands and understanding ‘signal flow’ and effects in the studio. I have mixed on a big Neve console there and I think this was the exact moment I fell in love with hardware. Nowadays I really like to work with analog tools though.


Who are your greatest influences with regards to music production?

Were you self-taught or did you have mentors around you to guide you?


I've learned a lot from other producers, engineers and label friends. Each of them has a completely different way of producing music, and that is what makes it so interesting. Right now I'm in the studio a lot with Guy James Cohen who runs a mixing and mastering studio. Talking about producing and mixing over a morning, afternoon or evening coffee is the perfect way to learn, however, I think I've learned mostly though my daily work on my own music. Having a routine, being curious and trying new tips and tricks is the key to learning new skills.



Speaking of the studio, what was your first home set-up as a producer like? How different is your set up nowadays and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you and why?


I started making music when I was 14 just through my computer speakers! I then bought the Yamaha HS50 (which I still have!) and occasionally use as a third pair of speakers in my studio. During that time, my friends and I recorded a lot of rap music, so my next investment was a microphone. Unfortunately, I didn't invest in backup hard drives, so I lost a lot of my old work. So a very important piece of advice I would recommend to all producers: make sure you have a lot of various backup options!


Over the years, and especially when I left my bedroom studio to build a more professional set up, I started investing in analog synthesizers and bought good quality plug ins. I can't really decide what the most important piece of gear is because they are constantly changing! I would 100% recommend investing in some seriously good speakers though ;)


If anyone is interested in learning more about my workflow and what my studio set up looks like, they can check out my upcoming master class with ‘Production Music Live’. We take a walk through my studio and have a very detailed look into one of my new tracks from my new album where I explain everything about sound design, the plug ins I like to use, mixing and arrangement.



Obviously you started off as a producer and then turned your hand to DJ'ing. Did you ever aspire to be DJ? What made you take it up?


Yes, that's true. I have always produced and played my own music 'live' and then started to play records from other artists too. My first DJ gig was when the Watergate Club asked me to play! In my opinion, the set was terrible (lol) but I'm also glad because it helped me start DJ'ing and learning. At the moment, I love to switch between DJ sets where I am representing a lot the artists and sounds from my label Radikon and Live performances which includes only my own productions.


I am 100% positive that without releasing my own music I would be doing another job today. My own productions is what makes me unique. I think the combination of producing music, playing live as well as DJ'ing all whilst running a label is the reason I am able to make a living out of my music. DJ'ing is only a part of this job. I am definitely a self confessed workaholic but I truely enjoy what I am doing and am so thankful to have the opportunity to do what I love the most.


When you play live, is it all improvised and on the fly or are you playing loops and stuff? Can you explain how does it all works? What’s the hardest bit about it?


It is not improvised and this is also not really what I want to do. Playing a Live Set or an improvised jam are two totally different ways of performing in my opinion. If you go to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert (for example) you expect to listen to their songs and not an hour of jamming. To be honest I don´t enjoy listening to Melodic Techno improvised jams so much because I like it when everything is well produced and sounds good. However, I do love to go to Jazz jam sessions a lot to watch instrumentalists playing and communicating together with their music.


Generally my live sets are based on arranged stems (like separated kick, bass, different synths, FX and drum tracks), loops and samples. I control Ableton with two midi controllers and I also use an analog drum machine and synthesizer. What I love about the analog gear is that sometimes it sounds unbalanced, like a 6db too loud open hi-hat or an arpeggiator. I think on stage and with a good sound system, these ‘mistakes’ can do wonders. But still – this is different compared to a live jam. The hardest part is not losing track. To make sure I'm on point, I practice my Live Set a lot. I also try to put my MacBook sideways on the table and not look too much into it. The only way to do that is to practice.


Which do you prefer: DJ’ing or producing and why?


100% producing! This is what I live for and what I will always do. I'll probably stop DJ'ing at some point but I will always be in the studio doing different productions and jobs. Along with producing my own music I am also working on music for different companies or helping producers improve their productions. I love all of that a lot.


However, I will say this.... DJ'ing in front of a crowd is a level of energy I cannot really describe so I don´t want to miss out on that either for at least the next decade! ;)


How would you describe your sound in your own words?


It's driving, melodic, melancholic and deep. I would describe my genre as Melodic House and Techno with a bit of Progressive. But I'm changing my sound a bit at the moment and working less with typical Progressive elements like arp, long basslines and massive pad layers so who knows? It's ever evolving!


Do you have a personal favourite Jonas Saalbach track?

* I think mine is still FARADAY (but I'm also obsessed with APRIL!)


I think it's the same for me! Actually, I have a little story about Faraday. My girlfriend was dancing in the crowd at Garbicz Festival in Poland and she wrote me a message. The guy next to her saw my name on her phone and asked her: ‘Do you know Jonas Saalbach in person?’ and she said “Sure, he's my boyfriend” and this guy - Phili - well, he just couldn't believe it. Phili told her that he and some of his friends are totally crazy about 'Faraday' so they kept in touch and I met him and his friends at Burning Man. Since then we’ve actually become good friends. Music connects people and in this case it is especially true for ‘Faraday’. When they're in the crowd at my gigs, I always play it.

But besides Faraday, I also have a few tracks from my new album that I personally really like. There might be a new favourite on there! Maybe ‘Cellophane’ or ‘Transformation’ – I am not sure yet.


Name 3 tracks that got you into electronic music?


Dubfire & Huntemann – Dios (Gaiser Remix)

Super Flu – Zinnober

Stephan Bodzin – Luka Leon


You have produced and remixed with some incredible artists over the years including Einmusik, Coeus, Budakid, Petar Dundov, Phillip Kempnich and Yuven to name a few!

Are there any artists you would like to work with that you have not yet had the opportunity to do so?


Ha! Good question! And of course I have a list of artists I would like to collaborate with but that's my little secret for now Bean ;)


2020 was obviously a crazy year for all of us but you somehow managed to stay focused and put out over 16 releases! How did you find the year with regards to your creativity? How would you say the ‘extra’ time has allowed you to grow as an artist?


16 tracks? Really? Wow, it didn't feel like I released that much music last year. Regarding my creativity nothing has changed. Sometimes I am in the studio and have an idea and something I don’t. This is pretty random.... although I have learnt over the years that in the times where I don´t feel so inspired it´s best for me to stay in the studio and continue to work because (eventually) I always find a loop that's worth working on.


Personally, the extra time was definitely good for me because it gave me the chance to reflect on where I started, where I am today and where I hope to be in the future. 2020 was a time of monumental personal growth and personal growth always also means massive growth as an artist!


Tell us some of the proudest moments of your career to date?


I think shortly after I recorded my live set for TIME:CODE. My new album took a year of work, then it took three months to get the Live Set up done and the fact that I am releasing it on my own label is pretty incredible. To be honest, I am really proud of myself and the whole team around me. TIME:CODE was a goal on my bucket list so I'm super super proud of that!


What can you tell us about future releases on your label Radikon?


I run Radikon with a colleague, Guzy, and we are both really really happy with the way the label is going. We have some truely amazing artists coming up in 2022 (which I'm not going to mention Bean no matter how many times you ask me as it would ruin the surprise!) but I can say that there will be an EP from Coeus. And of course, I am always happy to work on new releases with our crew like Yubik, Baime, Arude, SKALA, Dahu, Tantum or Naeiiv.


What is some advice that you can give to someone hoping to make a career in music production?


Try to spend time as much time as you can with professionals and perhaps do a few (or a lot!) of workshops. Watch all the videos and read all the forums. Be curious! Basically, just spend a lot of time on music production. Try to meet people from the scene before you start sending demos also. A short personal contact can do magic before getting in touch via Email or Instagram. And yes, as cheesy as this may sound: never give up!


So, in closing up today Jonas, what does the future hold for you? What are you most excited about? Any new releases we should look out for?


Yes! I'm incredibly excited about my new album 'Headlights', which will be released on vinyl and digital on October 29. If you're interested in some background information, be sure to check out the 'making-of' videos. You can keep up to date with my album at www.radikon-label.com/headlights



Thanks so much for jumping onboard Jonas. It was a pleasure to chat with you today!

Thank you very much for having me :)




Links to all things JONAS SAALBACH below:


Time:code livestream: https://bit.ly/2XMPROV



For more info on Global Dance Music Collective please follow:





Our next artist interview will be published on Friday the 4th of Novemeber at 7:30pm (AEST)

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