A man of true diversity and versatility, Jon Kwest soars under the radar. It’s not his style to be out in the limelight, flaunting his creativity. He’s more of a “behind the scenes” type guy, and while that’s extremely humble of him, unfortunately it often leads to him being quite underrated. Currently a resident of Philly, Kwest hails from my charming city of Baltimore. He produces amazing Baltimore club music and despite my selfish desire to see him perform a club set in Baltimore, he is fully submerged in the moombahton scene. I’m not mad at that at all. He’s one of the most productive and meticulous moombahton producers in the game right now, only releasing tunes that are top of the line productions. You won’t see any throw-away tracks coming from this guy.
While his moombahton productions vary in vibe from time to time, he’s known for creating this particularly smooth, soulful sound by replacing sirens and rave horns with house grooves and R&B vocals. One of my favorite moombahton productions of his is “Dreamin’”, which samples vocals from that Christopher Williams’ tune, “I’m Dreamin’”. Not exactly the standard moombahton rage tune, Kwest’s “Dreamin’” has this morning glory vibe to it. He excels at producing tracks that are just outright super soulful, straddling the line between moombahton and moombahsoul, the hybrid of moombahton and R&B, which explains his heavy involvement with David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul Compilation releases. Kwest has seen his own productions featured on Heartbreak’s moombahsoul releases, as well as tracks he’s collaborated on with Heartbreak and DJ Melo. This is where he thrives. Don’t get me wrong – dude can rage. But he stands out when he makes moombahton for the ladies.
As far as the subgenres of moombahton go, so far we’ve heard moombahcore, the hybrid of moombahton and dubstep, and moombahsoul. But last week, Jon Kwest extended his creative reach by releasing Dust Mask, a compilation of new tunes that present a brand new hybrid of moombahton and UK hardcore (listen above). Despite the lack of an official moombahname, Kwest found enough parallels between the two genres to be able to form a fresh and energetic hybrid, funneling the heavy synths of UK hardcore and the familiar dubstep wobble into moombahton zone at 108bpm. On Dust Mask, Kwest slows down UK hardcore and revives these classic rave tunes by adding the sexiness of moombahton, reeling in all sorts of party people by appealing to both new school moombahton heads and old school ravers. With these types of musical innovations, the moombahfamily just gets bigger and bigger by the day.
As a fan of moombahton, you owe it to yourself to see Jon Kwest live and in action. He played a killer set at Moombahton Massive Tres in April. And two weeks ago at the Artscape festival in Baltimore, he performed a set that was so heavily saturated in moombahton exclusives. Tonight, he’ll be at Red Maple in Baltimore for Serious Dynamite’s first ever moombahton showcase. Admittedly, the party people in Baltimore haven’t latched onto the moombahteet as well as its DC counterparts, but who better to open the floodgates than Jon Kwest himself? And finally, if you can’t make it to Baltimore tonight, you better make plans to see him at U Hall on August 18th for Moombahton Massive VI. It’s gonna be the biggest problem DC’s seen since Marion Barry.
(Tonight, Serious Dynamite begins at 10PM. Get there early to enjoy $5 mojitos and boombas, and $3 Red Stripe until 11:30. Plus, moombahton all night! It’s a no-brainer. Where else would you wanna be?!)
Anyway, I was really lucky to be able to catch up with Jon Kwest. I had so many questions for him but I didn’t want to stifle his productivity so I kept it short. We talked about the characteristics of moombahton that drew him to the genre, which producers are currently rockin’ his world, and what kind of advice he has for up and coming producers.
Cool Breezy: How long have you been DJing and producing? What came before moombahton?
JK: [I] started DJing when I [began] high school, mostly hip-hop and some house & hardcore breaks. My first real gig was in ‘94 playing jungle at a party in DC at that five-story “Bomb Shelter” warehouse. I remember Diesel Boy was playing too. I was pretty hyped.
Production began around ‘98/’99, I guess. When I started working at Music Liberated, [I] met up with Ian Carey. Dude hooked me up with studio time here and there and that was it – I was hooked. Around 2000 or so, Reason came out and the “room full of credit card debt” type studio wasn’t necessary. Production became a daily thing.
CB: What initially inspired you to start creating moombahton tunes?
JK: The tempo is what primarily drove me to moombahton. It was new, not just a half time snare over an existing genre. It doesn’t mix tempo-wise with any other type of music so you have to really want to play it to play it. I like the fact that there was pretty much every style of music represented. It wasn’t all just noisy and hard, like it seems every new genre goes all too quickly.
I had been messing with mid-tempo type tunes for the last few years, but basically never had the balls or standing to really pursue it like Nada did. Dude definitely went about it the right way.
CB: Your name is at the top of many DJs’ lists of “favorite producers” right now. How does it make you feel to be that dude? And who are some of your favorite producers right now?
JK: I’m super hyped that like-minded people relate to what I do. That’s why all of us let people hear our music. I just do me though. I’ve been going at this rate for a long time now. Luckily, I found an outlet that motivated me to push myself again.
My favorites is a tough question… lotta folks. Heartbreak, Munchi, Nadastrom, DJ Melo, Uncle Jesse, Sabo, Pickster One, Billy The Gent, Cam Jus and all the OG’s pretty much go without saying. Tactic, Smutlee, Ckrono, Boyfriend, Neki Stranac, Sazon Booya, Soron, A-Mac, JWLS, Long Jawns, Nate Metro, DJ Theory all killin’ it right now. Some cats I’ve only recently came across DJ DIce/Chicago Deadbeats & Habanero Posse out of Japan been sending me some nastiness lately. I know as soon as I send this I’ll notice who I left off of this list and kick myself.
Every week I’m hearing from someone new that motivates me to go harder.
CB: You have a lot of influence not only in the moombahton scene but also in the Baltimore club scene. How do the two currently compare?
JK: Current Baltimore Club is almost a grey term. It’s expanded and re-invented itself over the last few years. Dudes like Benny Stixx, King Tutt, Murder Mark, DJ Say Wut [produce] tunes [that] can sound any number of different ways, which shows a versatility pretty much unseen since the term “Bmore Club” was termed in the early 90’s – no disrespect to anyone.
That, I believe, is the common ground. We all wanted something new and instead of waiting for it, we made it. We made it; expanded it; forced its evolution and made it our own voice. That’s what makes influential music, not pandering.
It’s not supposed to be for everyone.
CB: Do you have any words of advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers out there?
JK: Do you 100%. If you half ass your ideas to make dim wits happy, you should just throw in the towel and quit muddying up the craft.
Just as important, though – be humble, be polite and give credit where credit is due, but nothing of value ever comes from ass-kissing or dick-riding.