Jonti Buries Himself Under an Avalanche of Tunes for Vivid LIVE
Ahead of his Vivid performance at the Opera House, Jonti took time out to discuss his love for The Avalanches and what to expect from the future.
The year 2000 seems appropriate for the release of an iconic Australian record: it was the year Daniel Johns promised he'd make it up to us; we'd recently learned Madison Avenue was not our baby; and we'd narrowly avoided death by computers crashing. It was time to celebrate a new millennium.
Having sold more than a million copies, Since I Left You had fans pleading for a follow-up album from day one. But 14 years later, The Avalanches are still yet to deliver. Though a second album is expected at any moment, Vivid Sydney is keeping us satisfied in the meantime.
Fronted by South Africa-born, Sydney-raised eclectic electronic whiz kid Jonti along with alt-pop local favourite Rainbow Chan and management buds Astral People, Vivid LIVE's celebration of The Avalanches will see as many as 17 performers reinterpret and rearrange some of the 3,500 samples included in Since I Left You. Between rehearsals and resting his voice, Jonti took time to chat with us about Saturday's Opera House performance, his love for The Avalanches and what to expect from the future.
ON VIVID LIVE
Originally produced for OutsideIn Festival last year, the Since I Left You tribute set was created to "show our own profuse love for The Avalanches," according to Jonti (who'll no doubt be blissing out himself throughout the show). If you've been a little baffled by what to expect from the Saturday May 24 performance, Jonti makes it plain.
"It's a recreation of the album. We're basically just trying to bring it to life, cover every sound and play it in the same order as when you listen to the album, but back-the-front," he says.
Of the whopping 18 songs making up Since I Left You — and the 3,500 samples included in it — 'Electricity' is Jonti's favourite of their reinterpretations (although it wasn't an easy task to pick just one). "I just think it ends with a lot of soul and the strings sound really beautiful. It just kind of explodes and everyone's really on their A game and it's all kind of 'game over' sounding. I've really liked the way we've been doing that one."
ON HIS LOVE FOR THE AVALANCHES
To have a bunch of young, celebrated musos recreating their album at the Opera House 14 years after its release must feel pretty damn great for The Avalanches. But of course, it's equally satisfying for Jonti, who's adored the Melbourne band since their first release. "There's copious amounts of love in their album and I feel that's what makes it kind of transcend over the years.
"When I moved to Australia from South Africa, I wasn't really sure of my identity. I had to find myself and I think the album helped me with that; it helped me choose a path. And even last year, I was very stuck and went through a breakup, then we did the Since I Left You [OutsideIn] show and it just resparked a love of music. It's the album that keeps giving," Jonti laughs.
The Avalanches have kept us on their toes with rumours of a second album since Since I Left You's release. But it finally seems likely that we'll hear more from the Melbourne legends any day soon, with Jonti recently collaborating on the forthcoming anticipated (and rather mysterious) release. Despite his undying love for their first album, it seems even Jonti thinks a second could be better.
"I think it's possible. When I got back from the studio I was kind of blushing like a school girl. It definitely has the same power." But rethinking his answer, Jonti reckons it might not be his favourite. "Only because I'm on their album. I don't think I could say that's my favourite album and be on it," he laughs. "That would sound weird."
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
Orchestrating a 17-person show at the Opera House has become Jonti's pet project for the past year. But requiring a huge amount of effort, stress and thought, it'll all be over after Saturday night.
"There'll definitely be withdrawals. We were talking about it this morning, like, 'what are we going to do?' But we have ideas. And you just don't know what's around the corner so we'll probably just keep the gang together one way or another.
"We definitely want to do a show in Melbourne, because that's where they're [The Avalanches] from. But it all depends on whatever we can make feasible. It's just hard enough getting us all in the one room to rehearse!"
But between rehearsals, Jonti's also been recording a solo album that's probably "40 per cent" completed. "We'll see where that leads to."
Jonti will perform as part of Vivid LIVE in Since I Left You - A Celebration of The Avalanches on Saturday 24 May. More details over here.
Published on May 23, 2014 by Rachel Eddie