The art of mixing

Former TCDSU Ents Officer, Jonah Craig, speaks to Trinity News about his new single, his inspiration, and journey as an artist

A deep beat that pulsates throughout your body and the club, electronic dance music (EDM) is the staple that signals the start of a night you may not fully remember but will certainly enjoy. In a Spotify two-minute documentary, it traced EDM’s origins to DJ Knuckles who played in a club called Warehouse in Chicago in 1977. Warehouse became a place where marginalised communities such as the LGBT community, black people, and Latino-Americans congregated.

Set against a backdrop of economic inequality, racial tensions, and a country that was slowly moving towards legally protecting the LGBT community, EDM’s rebellious birth did not end there. As EDM continued to grow and thrive it gained a negative reputation for being solely about taking hard drugs, thus PLUR – peace, love, unity, and respect – was founded within the EDM community. Since then, it has continued to gain popularity by producing musicians such as David Guetta and Zedd.

Jonah Craig is a familiar name to many students, having served as JCR Ents Officer in 2015/16, before going onto be TCDSU Ents Officer in the 2017/18 academic year. His next venture is a step away from student politics and into music instead, releasing his track Ultimatum over the weekend. While Craig’s first introduction to music was through lessons for piano and guitar, it was his time at Trinity that his interest in EDM was sparked. “I settled with Electronic Dance Music because of my initial exposure to Dublin’s nightlife scene with Trinity Ents.”

What attracted him to EDM over other genres was that “you hear it everywhere. A huge number of people enjoy listening to dance music on their headphones, in the gym or kicking back at home”. Seemingly drawn to it because of the popularity it holds, the attraction became a much stronger force over time. He realised it was more than a hobby or way to de-stress, that he wanted to be an artist “to create and produce the music I was playing live. This realisation led me to an entire new world.”

Being JCR Ents Officer gave him his first taste of EDM: “Katie Cogan, the Ents Officer [at TCDSU] at the time would lend me her decks to practice mixing music together. I remember spending hours in my room, distracting myself from college work where I would instead learn about the art of mixing.” This seemed to have been a turning point for Craig, exposed to new technology such as Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), it was here he moulded his craft and discovered his passion.

Joining artists such as George Ezra and Jax Jones, Craig’s biggest gig to date was the 2018 Trinity Ball. Playing in front of a crowd of over 1,000 students, his exhilaration with the experience was clear. Referring to it as “Europe’s largest private party”, he says he knew “it would be a moment I remember forever”. Demonstrating how far he’d come, however, his first performance was perhaps more humble. Playing at a JCR event with Bora Bora and Disco Anocht resident Jack Banks, it was clear Craig valued all of his experiences enormously and had huge respect for other artists. Citing his biggest influence as Martin Garrix, it is his energy which he admires most, and tries to emulate in his own performances. Not restricting himself to EDM, Craig also mentioned Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, when talking of the sheer depth of emotion capable in music.

When questioned on what his next steps were, his focus seemed to be the present. While his degree in Computer Science and Business is a far cry away from the world of music production, balance is of clear importance to Craig. Highlighting that he will be releasing singles throughout 2019 despite it being his fourth and final year, he acknowledged “time management is critical in times like these”. Less eager to discuss if this was a career path, he instead emphasised his focus on the quality of the music he produces. Acknowledging that most musicians aspire to perform full-time, he was happy to “focus on the process of creation when on my journey as an artist”.  

Ultimatum will be debuting on Spotify and Apple Music and, for Craig, the track was a creative process which eventually led him back to the talent in College. “One of my friends suggested the singer, songwriter, and DU Music Chair Fiona Garvey (Fi). When I first heard her sing a sample vocal over the track, I knew she was perfect for the song. It took us four weeks to finalise the vocal recordings, and another two to edit it on top of the track. Her sheer vocal talent adds a whole other dimension to Ultimatum.” Clearly blown away by the ability of his friends and peers, Craig insisted this was one of the best things about Trinity. Citing Hozier as one of the amazing artists to come through the ranks of College, he appreciates at the time, he was just a fellow student. This realisation drives his motivation to explore and mingle: “The same network exists for you today as it once did for these people.”

The next step in Jonah Craig’s journey will be the reception to his single. As EDM increases in popularity and continues to develop as a genre, it is up to Craig to make his mark: “I do strongly believe that there is a niche in the market for Irish electronic dance music producers. It’s now the time for me to see if it exists.”

Georgina Francis

Georgina Francis is a former Managing Editor, Life Editor and Assistant Life Editor of Trinity News.