He’s toured the globe playing drums for Shapeshifter; has recently released his debut EP and runs his own record label. Did somebody say workhorse?
But that's a day in the life of musician and DJ Johnny Hooves (aka John Clayton) whose latest production project has been Ganga Giri's next LP.
“When Ganga came to me, as a beat maker I saw an opportunity to fuse the expressive and sonic sound of the didgeridoo with modern techno, synths and squelchy dance music,” Johnny says. “At the moment I'm trying to use that didgeridoo flavour … and move away from what we might think of traditional didgeridoo and dance music.
“We've got about the first third of the record done, a couple tunes are finished [but] I'm still learning, working out what the greater concept of this record is gonna be. I guess we're just throwing ideas out onto a canvas as far as the greater album goes.”
Johnny has made it his duty over the course of his career to steer against the tide of mainstream electro tunes. And perhaps his first solo EP, 'Back From The Brink', is his most definitive work – fusing downtempo dubstep with a plethora of original sounds.
“I've always loved that rhythm even when I used to play in a reggae band, The Red Eyes, and we had tunes that had that nice rolling, stepping tempo. I felt – and still feel – that so much more of the dance possibilities can be explored in that half-time context.
“I took some of the ideas I love from making drum & bass and mashed stuff together in half-time feel … And I had one big soul vocal tune that was really bright, but it was still really heavy. Another track had a bright house style rhythm and I managed to work that over a big jungle bass.”
But according to Johnny, not all dubstep is, well, fresh.
“I feel like dubstep got a really simple sonic identity really quickly and people wrote a simple rulebook for it, and everybody copied. And that's it. Nobody really thought much into what they were doing.
“There's a willingness play the game, make the sound, use your social media with the right kind of music and you'll get released on this label, and those are the guys selling most of the records at the moment. Everybody copies them for a while and the business works.”
These are the kinds of things that inspire Johnny to push the boundaries of electronica and apply his own personal touch to the genre.
“I'm comfortable with myself and the business of my music where I just want to make my beats for myself, play my gigs when they're there and enjoy them. I couldn't be satisfied copying someone else's music that I only partially like or not at all. I don't wanna do something just for the sake of selling records.
“When I write a tune I think about how it's gonna sit into a set, but I don't necessarily think about what label it'll go on. Having said that, there's a little bit of hypocrisy to that because Oscar [Davey-Wraight – from Opiuo – is] doing really well and he came from doing something different.”
Needless to say, Johnny is forever in search for like-minded DJs when it comes to inking other acts to his record label, Increase Audio.
“The label is all pretty new and I'm still trying to figure how to juggle that, because as you could imagine, it's all a juggling act. The label is my new baby and that came about as a necessity to get my last EP out.
“The concept for the label is the same for the [EP] and that's a fusion approach. The [EP] was taking lots of dubstep rhythms and trying to marry them with techno, drum & bass and reggae. So, the concept behind the label is to find music that is fusing current sounds with a whole lot of other flavours.”
Johnny Hooves supports Opiuo and Spoonbill at The Hi-Fi Saturday May 4.