Mathew Jonson really is one of a kind.
He's developed one of the most distinctive voices in electronic dance music: when you hear one of Jonson's tracks, you almost immediately know it's his. And yet there's no mistaking any given track for another.
His music offers a rare fusion of populist intensities and nuanced musicality. With a keen understanding for the needs of the dancefloor and the universal laws of house and techno, he's thrown out the rule book time and time again, sneaking tricks learned from electro and even drum'n'bass into minimal clubs, and loading up his B-sides with tracks that do what they damned well please. (No kick drum? No problem.)
His standards for sound and presentation are exacting. Both on stage and in the studio, Jonson's fealty to analog equipment and real-time play—as opposed to mere playback—serves as a standard bearer for a kind of electronic music that goes way beyond the drag 'n' drop world of digital composition. Jonson has always been eager to get his hands dirty, and the music reflects that in gnarled bass sequences and long, intuitive lines. His sounds have serious teeth.
And despite his quick ascent through the ranks of the techno elite, Jonson hasn't just stayed personally grounded. He's devoted much of his energy to supporting his own close musical family, both in the groups Cobblestone Jazz and the Modern Deep Left Quartet, and with his Wagon Repair label, which he co-founded with Jesse Fisk, Graham and Adam Boothby, Frank Meyerhofer and Konrad Black.
He studied classical piano as a kid, plus jazz drumming, and played drums in a marching band —thus laying both the melodic and the rhythmic cornerstones of his music today. (Plenty of musicians claim to be "classically trained," of course, rendering the phrase all but meaningless. But here's something you might not have known about Mathew: he's actually begun studying piano again, which suggests a musical seriousness that's rare in the world of auto-didact button-pushers.
Thanks to his father's work with sound technology, he also got his hands on synthesizers at the age of 9. By the time he discovered hip-hop as a young teen, he was recreating its electro-based beats on his own rudimentary setup at home.