Route 94 Presents His First New Music In Two Years - A Brand New Day EP

A fresh face to emerge from the UK in recent years, Route 94 (birth name Rowan Jones) found himself being launched into the spotlight from the off when his debut track My Love landed at number one in the UK singles chart back in 2014. For club focused music, this kind of exposure is rarely earned by emerging artists in such a short time frame and while it provided a huge platform to start out on his career, Jones has opted to work backwards from commercial success down into the underground. His last, and second EP two years back, Misunderstood dropped on Matt Tolfrey's off-centre house outlet Leftroom Records as a follow up to My Love and was statement of intent of the direction he was moving into before he took time out from releasing his music to give him space to explore his growing hardware collection and sonic identity.

With his next Farringdon date slated for this Saturday night (11th June), we have been offered somewhat of a special privilege to break the producer's silence and share a selection of some of the productions that Jones has been working on during his transitional time in the studio these past couple of years, presenting a three track EP for download for free.

Download: Route 94 - A Brand New Day EP

It’s been over a year since you put any music out - what have you been getting up to in the studio during that time? What kind of ideas have you been exploring?

Route 94: I’ve been making a bit of everything, really random stuff as well. Just literally seeing what I can do with what I’ve got. I’ve got tons of music I’ve made over not just the last year, but two or three years that’s just all sort of congregated in my computer. I’ve been learning all my new equipment, all my new hardware, my synths, my drum machines, just geeking out massively. I’ve been moving studios as well which was a massive change as I’ve never done that before.

Working with singers as well has made me wanna do more than just put out club records in a sense. It’s made me wanna branch out and sort of push my musical abilities as far as I can.

Have you been getting influences over that past year that have affected your output?

Yeah definitely, whenever I go out I always find new stuff I like. Always finding new stuff I like, whether that be from listening to mixes, or friends sending me stuff, or just being out in the world. I just like trying to take in as much music as I can. It’s just difficult because I go off on tangents a lot, one minute I like this and I’m like ‘ah this is amazing…’ Like there’s so much music out there, that I kind of get lost in it.

I’ve just been experimenting and exploring, learning…just learning what I like really. Finding what I actually like, expanding a style of music and taste of music.

Is there a certain style or taste you find you’re veering towards?

It’s such a broad spectrum I can’t actually say. I’d love to be specific but there’s so much I’ve been taking in, so much new stuff I’ve been listening to and been buying that I wouldn’t pinpoint it to one genre or one sound. What I play in my sets, I guess, is just stuff that makes me dance.

I guess what I actually really love at the moment is kind of like, groovy beat, a bit ghetto, house throwing in techno every now and then. Groovy, not too fast…I say not too fast, but…I play well fast [laughs]. Just groovy, whatever makes me groove.

Why have you decided to share this music now?

It’s like a new start for me. I’ve had time to go in and really find music that I like. I’m playing the sets I wanna play now and I feel like I’ve learnt enough and I’m in the right place now to start sharing stuff with people. Whereas before I think, like, I was thrown in at the deep end but I didn’t really know what I actually liked. I still don’t [laughs] but I feel like I’ve learnt enough to want to share now.

Do you tend to test your studio output in your sets when playing out, is that part of your process?

Of course, I think my music’s very very personal to me so I think, like, I’ll only play it if it’s somewhere that it’s gonna be received how I want it to be received. It’s very personal to me. Anywhere where people are open-minded and want to hear something new, because I don’t wanna just play something I’ve put my heart and soul into, for people to ponder on the fact they don’t know it. So I guess with my tunes, there’ll be a part of my set where I’ll play just only my own tunes, and it usually goes down really well, because people look confused (laughs) because they don’t know what the tune is, or they’re like ‘shit, what’s this?’ and you can see the excitement in people, in them not knowing.

I really like it when people want to hear something different, they don’t want to just hear what they hear every time they go out. When there’s that connection there, and I feel like I want to share, I will.

How do you feel your sound as a DJ has evolved since your career has become established? Has that evolution fed back into what you’ve been making in the studio?

Everything I do now is a lot more refined. The old stuff I made was I guess a bit more naive. Not naive but I guess from being in the environment that I’m in, and going out and DJing every weekend and being in that whole environment has opened my eyes to a lot of things and a lot of new sounds. Being in clubs and watching and seeing what people dance to, and going out and dancing, seeing what gets me going when I’m on the dance floor. I’m really young so I’ve still got a long way to go and still got a lot to learn but from what I’ve learned in the last 2-3 years, fucking hell, I’m gonna be like Morgan Freeman of house & techno by 30 laughs and grey as well by 30!

I guess from previous occurrences, not to say that anything I’ve put out before hadn’t helped me on my journey and got me to where I am, but going forward all the music I put out and every small detail will all be coming from me. All the music, and creative input will be mine, the art, the concept, everything. Obviously with help from friends, but it will all be my vision.

"I would say to people, don’t expect one thing, cos you’re not gonna get one thing. You’re gonna get everything that I feel."

When you say about going out to these clubs and experiencing what you’re enjoying, can you pinpoint any specific places you’ve gone where you’ve really connected with it?

fabric every time I go. Obviously. It’s quite rare. Because I’m in so many clubs and around it so much, a lot of it is quite draining. So for it to actually be a proper vibe it honestly does have to be quite special. So it doesn’t happen too much, but when it is amazing, it’s amazing.

It’s also always really random places that catch me off guard, I think, when I really enjoy myself and properly get in to it. When I’m with my friends, and everything’s right. A club called Vetro in Barcelona is amazing, it was 2 years ago and I still remember it so it must’ve been bloody amazing. And fabric. Seeing people like Ricardo and Mathew Johnson, it’s always gonna be good isn’t it. For me they’re musical knowledge boxes so it’s good to go and see someone like Ricardo play cos you’re like, fuck what’s that, they’re all absolute bombs. It’s element of surprises and it’s also finesse. How on earth, whenever I’ve seen Ricardo, he’s always been fucking sick and Matthew Johnson as well, and loads of other people. For Mathew as a producer and Ricardo as what he plays in a set - they’ve both mastered the art of what they do, and I don’t think that many people can do that. They’re inspirations cos there’s mystery, and also they’re not just big because of being on the internet and doing silly things to get attention. I respect the fact they keep it real. I know it’s about having fun but it’s music, we’re not circus freaks, like (laughs) keep it a bit more real man, people need to chill out.

Can you pinpoint how your sound has evolved?

It’s just become more refined. More skill, more depth of knowledge around producing, making music. I just got better at making music, technically. It’s like getting thrown in at the deep end of the pool, you’re gonna have to learn how to swim really quickly and its been an amazing journey.

Also it’s a completely different process working with hardware as opposed to just making tracks on the computer. It’s a lot more hands on. I’ve also learnt that it’s not just a walk in the park to move your studio [laughs] that’s a whole other thing. It took about 6 months to get my studio up and running. And it’s still not 100% per cent there cos it is super technical. I guess for other people it’s not, but for me it is - I mean, 3 years ago I was sitting in my mum’s house in my bedroom making tracks on a Dell PC, now I’m sitting my house and a five or six metre walk away is my studio with about 30 synths and loads of drum machines and all this crazy stuff. It’s like a museum, for me I guess with my studio, it’s just some people collect Star Wars toys, (laughs) some people collect, I don’t know, baseball cards, stamps, some people collect records, I’ve got a few (records not stamps), I wouldn’t call myself a collector. Some people do that, I choose to buy music equipment and that’s what makes me happy. I think it’s a good thing, even if I don’t even get to use some of the stuff, it’s like a piece of history.

Some people might not know what to expect of your studio sound now so they don’t really know. There’s this mystery…

Well I guess you shouldn’t expect one thing, you should expect however I feel. I could wake up tomorrow and be like, angry so I put out some angry techno (laughs) or I could wake up really happy the next day and put out some happy techno and then I could wake up feeling funky and make something super funky. So really just however I feel. I would say to people, don’t expect one thing, cos you’re not gonna get one thing. You’re gonna get everything that I feel.

So can you tell us a bit about the tracks on the EP like when were they made? Was there anything in particular that inspired them?

I thought I’d give a variety of stuff that’s not necessarily all on the same page because I didn’t wanna just…I’d rather reflect… So at first it was 3 completely different tracks then I listened to them all together and all 3 in a row sounded industrial and dark, and I was like, is that what I wanna come back with? After all this time, and that’s not where I’m at at all. It’s part of me but I didn’t wanna just put that and portray myself as that.

The 1st track called A Brand New Day, I made that in my new studio a few weeks ago - by the time this interview goes out it’ll be 3 weeks ago.

So the 1st track is really new. It’s me playing with new stuff, seeing what I can make and that’s what I came up with. I think it would be great to share something that is really really current. The 2nd track Caramel I don’t even know when I made that - it’s something I found on my old computer, probably made it last year. It’s quite a random track, bit disco’y, bit weird, but also really happy and summery. It’s something that was knocking around - it might not be super cool, but I fucking like it (laughs)

The 3rd one is a track I made when I was living in Crystal Palace just before I moved to London Fields, literally the night before. I had one night to finish 3 tracks, the night before I moved my studio so I stayed up all night with favours, from my friend (laughs) and I knuckled down and finished all 3 of these tracks. And that was one of them, so I thought I’d include that because that was just before I moved, and when I moved, my studio was down for ages. So it’s literally in the wrong order. The first track is now, the second is oldest, and third is just before I’d moved. It’s a mixture of different times.

Why have you decided to give it away?

I thought it’d be a nice way to ease back into it. I haven’t put anything out in ages, and I thought coming back into it, you have more freedom with fabric. That and it’s a nice thing to do. I thought why not just give people some music to listen to for free and instead of finding a label and finding this and finding that and doing this and doing that, I thought I’ve got these tracks and I wanted to give them to people, to see what people’s reaction is, see how people take them, instead of trying to make money off it.

I have an affinity with fabric so I hopefully trust people will get it. So yeah, it’s an honour for fabric to do it.

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