Chopstick & Johnjon
Chopstick & Johnjon
Ferris Bueller put it in a nutshell: “Life moves pretty fast. Ifyou don’t stop and look around once in a while, you couldmiss it.” A decade has passed since the mastermindsbehind the Suol label, Chi-Thien Nguyen and John B. Muder,set out as Chopstick & Johnjon with a clear mission: toblaze a trail through the international House and Technoscene. Those ten years seem to have passed in thetwinkling of an eye.But things could have panned out totally differently. IfJohnjon hadn’t waited with the patience of a saint beforetheir first studio meeting – when Chopstick, his future studio,DJ and label partner turned up three hours late – he mighthave taken exception to the comment that his productionskills were “amusing”. And if, in turn, Chopstick had notlistened very closely as Johnjon took to the turntables,weaving one record after the next into an electrifying,atmospherically dense set. Maybe these lines would neverhave needed to be written, but despite all the initial adversityand apparent contradictions they both recognized theircommon ground, how they augmented one another – andthe potent energy their symbiosis could unleash, whichhasn’t changed, right up to today.Both as joint label managers and as a production team,they’ve come a long, long way since then. Techno, Electro,House, Hip Hop – during their early years in particular theduo set about exploring electronic music like kids in a sweetshop. Fearless and bold, they surrendered themselves tothe moment, but with the Suol label they seem to have foundtheir spiritual home for the time being. Suol’s forerunners,Criminal Records and Baalsaal, were important stages inallowing them to hone their profile and gradually acquire thenecessary know-how to develop an internationallysuccessfullabel. We learn from our mistakes, as the sayinggoes and all those diverse influences crystallizedaesthetically too, as they gradually created a collectivesound concept, which is based on their shared experiences– unaffected by the intense maxi single craze, whichsometimes strangles the creativity and carefree mindset ofthe House and Techno scenes. Over time, their collaborative tracks started to becomeslower and more organic. What is today commonly known asSlow House was for Chopstick & Johnjon a naturaloutgrowth of their passion for Hip Hop and Groove inparticular. House music that kicks ass. T he creative paircompliment each other perfectly – both in the studio and behind the decks. Thien, the classically-trained ‘muso’ andJohn, the former Hip Hop DJ with an ear for tight, compactarrangements. The chemistry is just right: tracks like “ClearEyes” from their “Friday Night Lights” EP, “Keep On Keepin’On” with label-mate Fritz Kalkbrenner on the microphone, ortheir biggest hit to date “Listen” are all proof of that.Despite being busy these last few years tackling marketdemands with EPs and remixes, they’ve finally managed toput out a full-length opus by the name of “TWELVE” (releasedate April 4th 2014). This is an album in the classicalsongwriting sense. Fortified by House predilections takenfrom the musicians’ obsessively detailed and intoxicatingdance floor beats, the album presents its own clearlycompacted and self-contained realm of sound.Behind the decks they form a DJ duo that is always perfectlyin sync. Whereas others tend to fire all canons in a singlevolley, a Chopstick and Johnjon DJ set is like a drawn-outforeplay session, a tease. A good groove doesn’t need arave signal. They’ve mastered the art of slowly,imperceptibly turning the House thumbscrews tighter andtighter until they have total command of the dance floor.Chopstick and Johnjon are consummate experts at bringinga party to the boil at 116 bpm.With Suol, the successor label to Baalsaal brought to life in2009, they are in the process of cementing their long-termsuccess as an A&R team. Featuring Daniel Bortz, Till vonSein, Trickski, Tender Games, Meggy and Fritz Kalkbrenner,they have put together an illustrious roster of artists withinjust a short space of time.Their conquest of the world of House continues.