Each time Jon Charnis takes the stage, he transmits an undeniable energy that’s both freeing and unifying. Exploring everything from tech house to organic house and more, the La-based producer has become an international dance music icon. Combining sublime soundscapes and euphoric melodies into one concise sound, he has created a transformative sonic experience you can’t help but get lost in. Whether he is touring the world or playing as the sun rises at Burning Man, Charnis’s unique sets take you on a meditative journey. Ahead of his performance at the All Day I Dream Of Denver Dazzle, The Daily Frequency caught up with Jon Charnis to discuss working with ADID, Burning Man, and so much more.
Check out the full interview below.
DF: You’re getting ready to play All Day I Dream in Denver! How does it feel to share the stage with artists like Lee Burridge, Sébastien Léger, and Tim Green?
JC: I’m so pumped! Lee’s been a huge inspiration for me ever since the original All Day I Dream parties in Brooklyn and his early works with Matthew Dekay. But especially those magical Friday mornings when he takes the helm of the Robot Heart bus at Burning Man, always the highlight of the week. Sebastien and Tim are super talented guys whom I respect very much as well. Everyone on the lineup has their own unique take on the ‘dreamy’ sound, and I’m super excited I get to share my angle on it. The ADID crowd is always so receptive.
DF: You mentioned that Denver is one of your favorite places to play in the States. What is it about the city that you love the most?
JC: Denver’s a city that’s been really good to me over the years. I’ve played for the After Hours Anonymous crew several times now, and I feel like I’ve built up a family of support there and lots of people I can call my friends there. The people in the Denver scene are really genuine and are really all about the music.
DF: Not only are you taking part in the ADID world tour, but you just played the first-ever All Day I Dream Festival! What was that experience like?
JC: I know I’m going to sound super biased here, but the truth is that it was the vibiest festival I’ve been to in many years. It genuinely felt like a mini-Burning Man (but way more comfortable! Lol). The turnout was great for it being the first year, yet it still felt boutique. So it was kind of the perfect amount of people, and it felt like everybody was in sync. Besides the weekend-long medley of amazing music, meeting so many fellow ADID artists was the highlight, for sure. We all become really good friends almost immediately. The festival ended with an absolutely epic Lee Burridge b2b Matthew Dekay reunion set, followed by the most amazing after-party in the artist cam. This is surely the start of something great.
DF: It’s clear you have a deep love for Burning Man. What is it about being out on the playa that sets it apart from any other festival, and will you be attending this year?
JC: I would answer that it’s not really a festival but an experiment in building a temporary city where you can find anything you desire. And it only happens because of the countless effort and hard work of countless individuals, each striving to contribute what they can to the experience under extremely hard conditions. And that makes it so special. We’re all building something together, where the sum is much greater than its parts. Plus, as a DJ, it’s the most magical place to share music. I actually write original music and prepare tracks for my DJ sets all year long in anticipation. And yes, I will be attending! I somehow lucked out during the impossible general sale lottery this year, so I guess it’s meant to be!
DF: Let’s get into your production side. You’re known to produce with primarily analog and modular synths. Do you feel that using hands-on instrumentation instead of virtual synthesizers brings a more intimate feel to your tracks?
JC: I actually work both “In The Box” and “Out of the Box.” There is for sure an immediacy to playing actual notes on a physical keyboard and turning physical knobs. Using your hands to make music leads to lots of happy accidents, and it’s easier to get into a flow state. And my modular synthesizer gives me even more control as I can patch anything into anything. Having so much control leads to the most unpredictable results and ends up almost being like a meditative state as you try to control the beast.
However, there are also so many amazing digital plugins and tools that approach sound design in totally unique ways, so VSTs are definitely part of the process as well. I would say Omnisphere (which is a sort of sample-based synth engine) is a VST I could not live without. In fact, I could probably do everything I need to in a song with just that. In the end, it’s about what inspires me and gets me in the flow.
DF: Do you have a specific routine when your working in the studio or do you just go with the flow depending on the day?
JC: I used to call my process “chaos theory” but have realized I need more routine in the studio lately. My current process is to hunt for new music for my DJ sets for a couple of hours. At some point, after hearing enough inspiration tracks, I tend to naturally want to load up Ableton and start jamming. I’m also now writing down “goals” on a piece of paper before writing so that you have more direction in the day. I’m notorious for starting brand new projects constantly instead of finishing existing songs. And finally, I’ve been trying to make the connection between my diet and how it impacts my creativity. It’s all connected!
DF: Your tracks are both euphoric and uplifting! Do you ever feel a spiritual connection to your sound?
JC: Thank you! I would describe my music as melancholy with a touch of uplifting hope. I like the dissonance of those two energies. There are definitely rare moments when songs write themselves in the studio, and it almost feels like a spiritual experience. But more often than not, a song can be more of a labor of love than a spiritual thing. I think all of us producers are constantly searching for that one magic “aha” and finding ways to increase the odds of finding that more often. However, by the end of finishing a song, I’m usually burnt out by it and no longer spiritually connected, lol.
DF: Do you do anything outside of music that brings you inspiration or helps reset your creative energy when you are in the studio?
JC: My #1 inspiration these days, and creative reset is definitely nature. I got really big into hiking during the peak of the pandemic. And now experimenting with writing music “for a scene,” almost like a soundtrack to some of the magical places I’ve trekked across. Mountains, deserts, landscapes, this is what brings me the most joy and inspiration lately. I’m lucky to live on the West Coast, where I’m in driving distance of so many amazing places. I’d love to finish an album in a secluded studio surrounded by the most inspiring landscapes.
DF: There seems to new found buzz surrounding the house scene. How do you feel about the future of dance music?
JC: One thing that sticks out to me is how it seems virtually everybody that’s young is into House and Techno these days. A generation that grew up with video games and don’t find electronic bleeps & bloops foreign. When I started out, it was fringe music, a totally underground subculture. Today everybody’s into it, so it’s exciting to see what the next generation will bring to the table.
DF: Lastly, we just passed the halfway mark for 2022. What can fans expect from Jon Charnis for the rest of the year?
JC: I have an EP with my long-time collab buddy David Orin coming out later this year on All Day I Dream. Lee’s been really pushing and motivating me to be back on the label in a big way, and I’m excited to return to the label. Right now, I’m working on a remix of my good friend Zone+. And sooo much more new original music coming out in the near future. I will share more when I can! Thank you for speaking to me!
Keep Up with mixes and releases from Jon Charnis HERE!
Grab tickets for All Day I Dream of Denver Dazzle HERE!
Catch up on more exclusive interviews with The Daily Frequency HERE!