Hailing from Bonn, Germany – Jonathan Kaspar is an integral part of the scene in Cologne. He is a resident at the city ́s renowned Gewölbe club and also one of the current main figures at the legendary Kompakt label. While Kaspar is constantly reinventing himself, he continues what he loves the most – being a DJ and producer!
To finance his studies, he organized his own parties in his hometown Bonn early on. After completing his medical degree, he was so much in love with music, that he started to produce and immediately had his very first release on Upon You in 2015. Just one year later, he took the next steps to labels such as Objektivity, Pets and made the first appearance on KX.
In 2017, he released his second EP on Dennis Ferrer’s Objektivity label, where the actual b-side „Khaya“ has been one of the most-played tracks that year in Ibiza and all around the world. The attention on Jonathan Kaspar went up high and other releases on labels like Crosstown Rebels, These Eyes and Acid Pauli’s ouïe were following over the years. Kompakt has been accompanied Kaspar since his teenage years as he was a regular guest at their parties and also the record store in town. So it was inevitable that the paths would cross at some point and Kaspar appeared on Kompakt’s TOTAL 19 compilation with “Renard“. He then became a part of the in-house agency and his well-received full-debut “Kante EP“ followed early in 2020. Kaspar released his second EP in 2020 via the mysterious label “VOD” and title track “CHI” reached #1 in the Beatport Afro-house chart for several weeks.
Kaspar loves to play extra-long DJ sets building up a journey together with the crowd. Holding a residency at one of Germany’s main spots in regards to underground electronic music clubs, Gewölbe, he regularly invites national and international guests to play extended nights with him while his busy DJ schedule has been build around that.
Jonathan Kaspar is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2021 as he has already secured follow-up EPs on Kompakt and These Eyes, so we sat with him for our Behind The Headphone series.
What was your first real experience of electronic music that really got you hooked? And when did you see it as something to pursue as a career?
It was the first electronic party that I visited when I was 17 – I was immediately fascinated by the music and its character, the groove and the hypnotizing loops which can take you on a non-comparable trip.
I think I know it already for a long time, that this – deejaying and making music – is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I was skeptical of that for quite some time.
After I finished university, I started a doctoral thesis, on the one hand, because I did not want to start working right away and on the other hand because I thought I would have more time for music. During that time, I realized what I really wanted to do and followed the path of music. Until now I did not regret that decision once, I love it!
You grew up on all night long sets, and that shows in your love to play extended sets, what advice would you give to aspiring artists looking to learn the art of playing them?
Yes, I love playing all night long or extended sets, you can build your own journey with the crowd and set up the mood in different directions, that’s what deejaying with electronic music is all about for me. I grew up with long sets, I was very often booked for the whole night or morning at the very beginning of my career which helped me a lot to improve my skills and learn to read a crowd, which is in my opinion the main characteristic of a good DJ, beside the selection of tracks of course.
I would say three main pieces of advice: Take your time with the set and crowd, do not rush. Know your collection, keep it fresh and new and know a lot of different music in general otherwise, it might get boring – for you and the crowd. Take risks, playing very deep or weird tracks at peak time, try to show people the music you love and enjoy, do not only play tracks of which you know the people want to hear.
You hold a residency at the infamous Gewölbe Club, how did that come about? And how was the feeling when you were first awarded it?
My first booking at Gewölbe was in 2014 and from there on it was a very natural process. There was no specific moment of awarding, I just realized by receiving more requests for playing. Before the pandemic, I was having my own beloved nights monthly and I love the club: It’s a nearly perfect place, built around the DJ somehow, with amazing Martion Speakers, super nice staff and team, and a very cool crowd. The best description I heard around for Gewölbe was that it is a “music-listening-club” – On point!
What has been the most difficult moment of your career so far and why?
Easy to say: The time now caused by the pandemic. Every artist knows the times of self-doubt or fear of lack of success, but these times since March are different as it is completely out of our hands. Nobody knows when and how it will be somehow back to something similar as we used to know it. It is for sure a big challenge for everybody involved in the industry, but I hope there will be better times soon, though it might be different from what we were used to.
Where was the last city you played to blow your mind and why?
I am playing once a year in Tbilisi in Georgia for the amazing 4GB Festival. The city is breathtaking, so much to discover, the people are super nice and regarding the scene, they just love electronic music and are really passionate about it. I totally recommend a visit to Georgia once it is possible again, during my next stay I want to discover nature and hills together with my friends over there.
A lot of artists often come across a ‘creative block’, what is your usual routine to help overcome this?
Try to not force something, it will get even worse. Have a break, do sports, or something completely different. When working on music and I was stuck, I tend to delete some of the main parts and start something new with the rest – Sometimes a hard decision but it´s totally worth it!
If Jonathan Kaspar could produce a track with any artist past or present who would it be and why?
I am a huge fan of Nate Dogg for a long time, I think since I heard “Regulate” for the first time – A collaboration with him, his vocals on a track of mine would be a dream for sure!