Imagine Noisia asking you for demos and getting signed right after. Some months later you, still a teenager, become the world’s biggest Newcomer in Drum and Bass. What sounds like a dream is Jonathan Kievits aka Signals career. The 18 year old wunderkind is releasing tracks in quality and quantity like only a few can – with big names as his collabs too. Last Saturday Signal honoured us by playing at the Warehouse and delivered a huge show. We took our chance and made an interview with him.
How did you like the show?
I liked it a lot, I had fun! I played some new tracks, some dubplates, everything, so yeah, it was cool.
My next question is a little unconventional. What snacks do you eat to tide you over when you’re craving for the taste of cum? I had a little talk with June Miller recently.
*laughs* How you know about that? Well, pistache nuts. It doesn’t get too close to the taste of cum, but you know it’s something. And greetings to them, Mark I love you! He actually is like my neighbour.
How did you first get into music? What were your early influences?
Tiësto, Afrojack and Skrillex. And this is no joke.
And from Skrillex you got to Noisia?
Yeah they did a remix for ‘Scary monsters and nice sprites’ and this is how I got into Noisia and Drum and Bass eventually.
So when did you decide to produce your own stuff and why?
It was like five years ago and it was because I wanted to be somebody people look up to. There is no point in living your life and then dying without anything people remember you for.
How did you achive this rapid rise to fame?
It is being lucky, so releasing the right tune at the right time, the reason I’m Dutch probably helped Noisia find me and Frequency actually linked me to them, because he wanted to help. So yeah well, I just produce tracks and they get released.
So how was it getting the message that kicked off your career from Noisia?
In an interview I mentioned that I cried when I got the message from them on Soundcloud. I mean I was 16 and they asked me for demos and I was like ‚what the fuck is happening‘. I made them a tune and they signed it, I think it was ‚Tripwire‘.
What can you tell me about Neurohop Forum?
Oh my god you did your research! What can I tell you … it was just this small community of people. We all made 100 bpm music with reese basses and after like two years the entire scene collapsed and has been dead since then. Half of them went to Drum and Bass and the other half to Future Bass and started to make happy music. Disprove used to be one of the guys in this community. There are only a few people who still do Neurohop.
What about your studio and your equipment?
I use Fruity Loops 12 and I don’t really have a studio, I work in my bedroom. I share a flat with two of my sisters by the way. I do have a HP laptop. I don’t need more, it gives me a lot of freedom, sometimes too much, because your projects can get very messy, if you don’t watch out. I do like Cubase and Ableton by the way. Whenever I’m in a city where somebody uses it, I get along well.
Are you still studying Applied Mathematics?
I quit like a few months ago, because it was too much. I felt like if I do both, I can’t focus and so I decided to use my momentum and to stick to Drum and Bass. And in the future: I don’t really wanna go back to school, but DJing isn’t something I wanna do when I’m 60 years old. Most producers go into movie or game music, which is something I’d love to do. So if you do music for games, check me out!
And you play games yourself?
I used to, but in my apartment my internet is shit, so I can’t really play online games. I did recently buy the Nintendo Switch. I used to play League of Legends, like every day, and was a Platinum one, so top ten percent, with millions people playing. Now I only play games at the airport, because there’s nothing else to do and before gigs, cause music is my job and no work before work.
How do you reflect yourself being a teenager and having such fame that age?
I don’t really think about it, I try to live in the now. I’ve never really looked at it from another perspective. In fact, I just work my ass off for it really. I mean I produce like ten to twelve hours a day, so I don’t think I don’t deserve it, if you know what I mean. It’s just work work work work.
Like the Rihanna track.
*laughs* Yeah definitely!
Can you tell me about your own label, Fumei?
It was more like a project with friends I did with Skadi to push unknown producers, but after Skadi quit music we stopped the project. It never was a serious label. I want to focus on my own stuff. I’m doing an EP with Disprove which features Ordure and Annix as well. Collabs coming along with Spectrous Souls, Joe Ford, Hybris, Emperor, Phace, Icicle, a solo-collab with Annix, so not the one on the EP and also some some stuff with Fourward.
There are some idols of yours. Do you have a favourite DnB artist?
Noisia on top, of course. I fucking love Hybris, Phace, Mefjus, Emperor, The Upbeats. Everybody in the techy scene. And there’s nobody like The Upbeats, such an original style, it’s amazing.
What is your opinion on Jump up? You did some sick tunes for fun.
I like Jump up inspired Neurofunk, because most producers in Jump up, they don’t put an effort in their music. They just make a fucking stupid melody *sings something like Mr. Happy* and it’s done. I love Annix, Hazard and Upgrade, cause they but effort in their stuff. A lot of people in Neurofunk take influences in Jump up, which is sick, because the thing about Jump up is that you need a catchy melody that gets stuck in people’s heads. If you mix that with heavy drums and good production you get a sick combo.
Will your remix of ‚Black or White‘ by Camo & Crooked ever be released?
Yeah, it’s an official remix so it will come out … I actually have no idea when, but yeah, it will. They really liked my remix, so they even never play the original themselves anymore. I’m friends with them by the way. Markus and I talk quite often, send each other tunes, we’re gonna make a Camo & Krooked collab actually, but we still got to do it. So big things coming up!
So who are you’re best friends in Drum and Bass?
Mark from June Miller actually. We’ve sessions every week. And Thijs from Noisia, I speak a lot to him. Even though he is like one of the biggest in DnB he takes time for me. When I posted about getting my finals back, he congratulated me and the thing is, he doesn’t even have Facebook, so no idea how he heard about that. I love Thijs.
How was it getting the Drum and Bass Award?
Well not very surprising, because I was the only real newcomer in the nominees. Like Agressor Bunx, they are sick producers, but have been releasing for six years and that was the same with others, you’re not a newcomer in that case. I’m also a bit drunk so I’m talking bullshit.
Why did Thijs and Kasra have to pick up the award for you?
Cause I’m not going to London just to pick up an award I already won. I mean they told me before. I’m not gonna spent money on a hotel and flights just for an award.
Do you listen to non-electronical music?
I do listen to Metal and Punk. I like the Offspring and Three Days Grace, it’s like Emo-music, but I like it. I went to a Black Sabbath concert recently and didn’t know any of their stuff, but it was sick.
Your Facebook account screams crippling depression. You’re a meme-man aren’t you?
I’ve a few pages. I used to admin a huge page with about 50 000 likes, but it got taken down. Right now I admin two others with about 20 000 likes and a few groups. Whenever you say ‚meme‘ people stop taking it seriously, it’s just a community where people share humour I guess and I’ve actually made amazing friends there. Recently I flew to Manchester just to meet a guy I met in a group and I stayed for two days. It goes further than memes, cause one day you might become friends. It sounds stupid, but it’s true. Wow, we’re discussing memes.
I guess you can’t hear this sentence anymore, but you are pretty young. How did you handle drinking? Was it like, before DJing you were able to drink and after becoming famous you had to stop till 18?
I actually never liked alcohol. Well here’s the thing: I’m actually very introverted. So when I play a set all sober, then I don’t really have a presence and might be just mixing, but when I drink, I get a bit loose and also a presence. I don’t like beer, don’t like alcohol, tastes like shit. The only thing I like is vodka with cranberry. That tastes good. I went to Manchester with Emperors girlfriend to hang out and she told me to try it and it was amazing.
You said you’re very introverted. I heard you got bullied in school?
Yeah I used to get bullied because people thought my music is a joke and I would get nowhere and also because I stutter and have tourrette syndrome so it made me an easy target. Now all those guys work in supermarkets or something and I’m here touring the world, so fuck them. I win motherfuckers.