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Interview

Topher Jones talks about his recent success, Chicago, and making dance music in America

By Lauren Salm
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Chicago-based Topher Jones has had quite the year. Aside from tearing up venues all over the US and opening for some of the biggest names in dance music (guys like Tiësto, we should add), this aspiring DJ/producer has held a Top 10 spot on Beatport 100 charts with the Nari and Milani remix of his smasher “Brohammer.”

A few weeks back, Jones dropped a new heater through the Ultra label,”Hello Chicago,” which has already garnered support from artists like Skrillex, Gareth Emery, and Ferry Corsten. We talked with the rising star to find out how he feels about the future of music and Chicago’s role in where it’s all headed.

Do you feel that Chicago’s dance-music legacy has influenced your music and helped you get noticed in a time where it seems like everyone is a DJ?

Chicago is the birthplace of house music, and because of that, it is a special city. People here really support the music and there are countless opportunities to get things going. I’ve been able to grow a fan base over time that has become a foundation to build on. It’s also been a great place to be able to network and meet so many people since everyone always comes through Chicago on tour.

You just released a new tune on Ultra Records, “Hello Chicago.” Was there something particular about that city that influenced you to make the track?

Amada and myself made the track, and he’s from Chicago, and I live here now, so we thought calling the track “Hello Chicago” was a good idea. We both love the city and wanted to create something that could represent everything we love about it. I think it’s the most underrated city in America. If you haven’t been to Chicago, you need to come check it out. I promise you’ll love it.

“Brohammer” has become quite a success in such a short time. How did you come up with the theme for the song, and did you ever think it would do this well?

The support “Brohammer” has been getting is just crazy—such a wide variety of people are supporting it. Having house, dubstep, and trance guys all playing your track is pretty special. Nari and Milani, Ken Loi, and Tonneson & Chains put together great remixes too. My younger brother and I came up with the word at dinner one night, and then I decided to make something that I felt sounded like the word “Brohammer.” After working on it for two hours, I realized that there was something to it. I finished the track in another few hours and “Brohammer” was born!

Your sound is pretty unique for an American DJ right now. How do you feel your sound differs from most house DJs’ in the US right now?

I’ve been told many times I have more of a European sound. I think it comes from growing up in Indiana where there wasn’t a scene to be a part of, so I got all my music from the internet. I would download all of the Tiesto, Armin, Ferry, Paul Van Dyk, and Oakenfold sets; those were my influences. I also think growing up in a place that is very isolated musically had an affect, too; you just listened to only the music that absolutely moves you. It’s completely between you and the music.

What do you hope to bring to the culture of dance music? What would you like to see happen in the future with your help?

This is a great question; I’ve never been asked this one before! I hope to help carry the flag for the up-and-coming American artists. I would love to help pave the way for younger artists who want to make a career in the industry. When I was growing up, dance music was underground and it wasn’t viewed as a legitimate type of music. I still remember how everyone thought it was weird that I had turntables in high school; no one really understood dance music or DJing. Things have changed quite a bit in the last few years, so I would love to help continue to develop and grow the appreciation of dance music in America, as well as to continue being an American artist who can make it outside of the States.

You’ve been traveling all over the US, creating new tracks, and even hosted your own release party at Studio Paris recently. What can we expect from you the rest of this year?

There are some shows lined up and more in the works, but I think the rest of the year is going to be filled with insane amounts of studio time. I’ve got some really cool collaborations in the works and a lot of new original material and remixes on the way, too. I’m eager to keep learning and trying to improve my sound and I’ll be spending time with some people in their studios to watch and learn. It will be fun to be a student again! [laughs]

With dance music exploding in the United States now, do you see starting off here as a major boost to your career?

It’s not about where you start but where you take things. America is a hotspot right now, so I definitely want to capitalize on the fact that I’m from/live here and there are a lot of opportunities to build and grow. I love how dance music is finally breaking through and this country has embraced it as a legitimate style of music. I hope this is just the beginning.