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24 JUN 2024
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Delving into serene realms with Jonny From Space. His world, usually pulsating with Miami's club beats, shifts towards contemplative soundscapes in his debut LP, "back then I didn’t but now I do," presenting a reflective, down-tempo journey that invites listeners into a more introspective experience.

NOTE
“I finally had a moment to stop, I had a chance to think about my life. I was on a bullet train to God knows where.” – Jonny From Space
NOTE
"I needed this record to not be about the club, I needed something else.”
NOTE
“We just want to make it sexy, that’s the whole aesthetic. It’s sexy, and hot, and humid. But with a lot of bass. We want to feel that shit!”
NOTE
“It’s for when you realize there are some really beautiful things in this life: The water, the purple-pink sky, the sun as it’s coming down, the little birds out there that look really funny.”
NOTE
"With these times that we’re living in, we need to be softer with ourselves, and we need to be softer with other people.”
@jonnyfromspace
@mmckwrites
@photosbybrendabrooks

Several years ago, Jonathan Trujillo started showing signs of narcolepsy. He’d been neck-deep in nightlife for a while at this point: The Miami resident had a day job at Club Space, a local club he’d attended since his teenage years, and he knew his way around a DAW. So, when his sleep schedule went sideways and he needed help resetting it, his salve was close at hand. After work, he’d head to a friend’s house, boot up Ableton, make a few loops, and fall asleep, slouching on the floor in front of his laptop.

Trujillo, who produces and DJs as Jonny From Space, had long held clubbing close to his heart, but he was getting burnt out. “I was on go time,” he said over a recent Zoom call, the mid-morning sun giving his space a gentle glow. “I was one of the only ones at the club, so I was always there. I was at the office all week, and then at the club all weekend.” He was barely sleeping—hence the exhaustion. When COVID-19 hit Miami, it acted as a bit of a mixed blessing: Clubs more or less shut down for a time, which upended his professional and personal lives but also gave him the opportunity for a sorely needed reset. “I finally had a moment to stop,” he said. “I had a chance to think about my life. I was on a bullet train to God knows where.”

Given the sudden influx of free time, Trujillo occupied himself by diving deep into Ableton. He resurfaced those old loops that he made a few years prior to help him get to sleep, reaching once again towards low-key electronics in a time of uncertainty and stress. He built up a library of “reflective, sad, and pensive” chill-out cuts from his bedroom, looking out over a canal in North Beach and slowing down for the first time in years. Those pieces ultimately became the backbone of his debut solo LP, back then I didn’t but now I do, a slow-motion blur of sun-kissed breaks, bleary-eyed ambient techno, and zero-gravity downtempo. If you know Trujillo—rightly—as a critical figure in Miami’s club circuit, the record’s placid tones and early-aughts sheen might come as a bit of a shock; this is music for the drive home rather than a night out. “I needed this record to not be about the club,” Trujillo said. “I needed something else.”

If the production of this record sounds a bit hermetic, consider that an exception to the rule. Since childhood, Trujillo has found communities through art, and he holds on tight to the people he’s got. He watched Dragon Ball religiously in elementary school, stuffing his notebooks with his drawings of the show’s characters, and he’d join up with his friends to play Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, a Tekken-style fighting game set in the same universe. This became especially important when, at the age of 10, he moved from Harlem to Miami with his mother and little sister. He met another anime enthusiast, Adam Ovletrea, who makes music as bear, and the two forged a bond that holds to this day. “Me and Adam grew up on anime and music,” Trujillo said. With a laugh, he finished the list: “And getting really high all the time.”

Mor Elian – FeverAM – wav.world


In conversation, Trujillo was eager to excavate his histories and quick to crack a joke, smiling as he zigzagged across his personal timelines. He fell in love with dance music a few years after moving to Miami, attending Ultra Music Festival and catching names like LTJ Bukem, deadmau5, and Pendulum. As a sophomore in high school, he was friends with plenty of upperclassmen, and they’d invite him to all-ages raves downtown. It wasn’t long before he was up to his ears in dance music, joining dubstep groups on Facebook and rave communities on Tumblr. Miami, at the time, housed a robust jungle, house, and drum-and-bass scene; on the opposite coast, his online friends in L.A. were repping psytrance and techno. Suddenly, as he put it, his “IRL and URL” worlds were converging. He’d go to “super sketchy” warehouse raves, hearing Rusko, Caspa, Florida breaks, house, and techno played at ear-busting volumes. He ultimately decided to go to school for music production, studying Ableton, Logic, and Pro Tools before deciding university wasn’t for him.

But Trujillo got an education all his own. He came back to Miami and met Nick León, another Miami electronic-music mastermind who would later become a leading light in the city’s club-music circuit. León’s home—affectionately dubbed “the blue house” thanks to the color of its stairs, roof, and entrance—acted as Trujillo’s new classroom. “My friends were big on linking up there,” he said. “I was a visual learner, and I learned how to make music by watching Adam and Nick make music together.” He’d try to replicate their Ableton workflows on his own laptop; eventually, things started moving into place. He picked up a job at Club Space, a nightclub a few blocks from the ocean, getting an up-close view of DJs working their craft every weekend.

From there, it was only a matter of time before he got behind the decks. That’s not to say it was intentional, though. As one of a few people working at Club Space, if the club needed someone to hop on the decks at a moment’s notice—”If the DJ got too fucked up”—eyes fell on Trujillo. He learned to DJ via trial-by-fire, grabbing his USBs to cover whenever the club needed him. He started coming in after work to practice on the CDJs and, given a bit of sweat equity, people started taking him seriously. Danny Daze, a hero of Miami’s underground and Trujillo’s biggest inspiration behind the decks, suggested a straightforward alias: Jonny From Space. Trujillo was resistant at first; he thought it sounded silly, but he couldn’t come up with anything better. Danny insisted on the name, introducing him by the handle to bigger and bigger crowds. Before he took the decks at Dekmantel 2018, Danny put it plainly: “This is Jonny From Space. He’s better than Aphex Twin.” As Trujillo recounted this, six years later, he still sounded a bit dumbfounded, shaking his head and smiling.

This kind of communal uplift is characteristic to Miami’s club circuit. To hear Trujillo tell it, the scene is tight-knit and built on shared support. Between his booking work, his productions, and his time at friends’ homes, he’s worked alongside a huge number of the city’s acts, refining his aesthetic and bouncing it off any number of collaborators. From the outside looking in, the city’s sound might seem tricky to nail down—Miami birthed the subwoofer-busting sounds of Miami bass, has a proud history of wiggly IDM, and knows its way around a dembow rhythm—But Trujillo has it down pat. “We just want to make it sexy,” he said, grinning. “That’s the whole aesthetic. It’s sexy, and hot, and humid. But with a lot of bass. We want to feel that shit!”

Mor Elian – FeverAM – wav.world

Trujillo takes that approach seriously in his productions, marrying Miami’s club-music histories and present with a tinge of the psychedelic: Hefty drums, delirious synths, and tracks that promise to stretch into infinity. For him, whether it’s mushrooms or a bass-heavy club track, the effect of a great psychedelic is the same. He says that he loves music that is “disorienting in a good way,” bringing up names from all sorts of sonic traditions: Danny Daze, livwutang, early Danny Tenaglia, Priori. Not too long ago, he microdosed LSD with a good friend of his, Pablo Arrangoiz. “He’s like the Mexican Burial,” Trujillo laughed. “He’s never at the club. You know the story of the guy in the cave?”

Once the drugs hit, the two made music for the next fourteen hours, producing a truly delirious LP of drum-driven sort-of-dance music. Their next session upped the disorientation further, sounding a bit like Goat if you handed them an MPC and filled their drums with swamp water. It is hectic, at the intersection of a million sounds, and deeply wigged-out; in many ways, it plays like a photonegative of back then I didn’t but now I do, which is downright tranquil by comparison. But Trujillo’s world, and Miami’s club-music traditions, have room for both. In his music, he has built a universe of rabbit holes, tunneling in wildly different directions with each project. It’s apparent that he’s yet to hit bedrock, even if it’s tough to guess where he’ll dig next.

For now, though, he’s taking his time, even if he’s got plenty of material queued up. Trujillo recently launched a label—Impacto—alongside Nick León, one of those dear friends he’s worked alongside for years. The label’s debut release, fittingly, comes courtesy of Pablo Arrangoiz; Miami’s club scene isn’t exactly huge, and everyone seems to know everyone else. He’s planning to take things a bit wider, though. “We’re going to start tapping our outside-of-home homies,” he told me with a smile—New York, L.A., Europe. He’s got an EP coming out this summer with hometown hero Danny Daze, and, recently, just weeks before his thirtieth birthday, he played his first set in London.

Mor Elian – FeverAM – wav.world

You can hear traces of the UK in his sound, to be sure, but it’s the other side of the Atlantic that holds the most sway over Trujillo. “[back then I didn’t but now I do] is for when you’re staring out into the ocean and contemplating your life,” he told me. “It’s for when you realize there are some really beautiful things in this life: The water, the purple-pink sky, the sun as it’s coming down, the little birds out there that look really funny.” What started as a sleep aid has, by this point, long since spiraled into something more. It offers a quiet celebration of Miami’s million dance-music histories and a space for personal exploration; it is as languid and humid as a late summer’s day. The difference between a kick drum and a heartbeat lies in just a few notes.

Near the end of our conversation, Trujillo reflected on something the LP surfaced in him. “This album exposed me as a big fucking softie, to be honest,” he said. “I love love; I love my friends; I love my family. I can [come off as] a bit of a hardass, but it’s just a protection thing. I really am soft inside, and I’m okay with that. With these times that we’re living in, we need to be softer with ourselves, and we need to be softer with other people.” With back then I didn’t but now I do, Trujillo supplies a soundtrack for that care, stretching heartstrings until they look like the waves in the Biscayne Bay.

@jonnyfromspace
@mmckwrites
@photosbybrendabrooks
TRACKLIST

1. Christian Coiffure - Thorns of Reminder

2. Crespi Drum Syndicate - ??

3. Teqmun - Turgor

4. Crespi Drum Syndicate - ??

5. Lewi Boome - Tumble

6. Pluralist - Body

7. Kaval & Sim - Breakbone (Kaval Rum-pum-pum-pum Mix)

8. Gentle oul - Sober Ears

9. Kincaid - Cairn

10. Tristan Arp - Liquid

11. Konduku - Hermitage

12. Polygonia - Coleus

13. Henry Greenleaf - Caught

14. Wheelman - Drifting

15. Zersetzung - Decomposition

16. Modern Heads - Toy

17. Priori & Al Wootton - The Bell with the Wooden Tongue

18. Oma Totem - Er - 3

19. DJ Fucci - Chinchilla

20. Leod - Untitled 03

21. Jonny From Space - ??

22. Crespi Drum Syndicate - ??

23. Crespi Drum Syndicate - Ukulele Nebula Type (ft Max Buzone) (forthcoming)

24. Liam Robertson - Night Heron

25. Erik Van Den Broek - Drag Me to Oblivion

26. Plead Slyngshot Neewt - Studio Pressure

27. Hassan Abou Alam - Breathe

28. DL-MS- - Accelerated Frequency feat. XX ISIS XX (Mister Bellini Remix)

29. Neana - Vendetta Drums

30. Prest - Black Lotus

31. Laksa - Leo

32. Reeko - Energía Magenta

33. Feph - Low Immortals

34. Lewski - Earwigs

35. Yaleesa Hall - Depths of Chemical Oblivion

36. Deetron presents Soulmate - Path

37. Doc Sleep - Cloud Sight Fade

38. Los Hermanos Detroit - Resurrection

39. Maizena - Untitled

40. Impulse Translation - Liquid Glitch

41. D33 - Easy ft. Aura T-09 & Pilo (Unreleased)

42. Luz Oscura / Nick León - Ora De Oro

43. Ashtrejinkins - Day One Archives

44. In Flagranti - I'd Do It Again in a Heartbeat

∿∿∿ WAV•WORLD · ∿∿∿ WAV•WORLD • CORA.wav