Something special happens around 160bpm. From an eclectic mixing point of view, it’s an ideal vantage point: jungle and drum & bass stretch over the next 15bpm, dubstep is only 20bpm behind you, and hip-hop is literally on the same beat street. Shove it into halftime gear and a whole range of styles are also 15bpm blocks away, from broken beat to electro to UK funky.
From a production point of view, 160bpm is just as ripe. Fast enough for that high-energy rave impact, but roomy enough to include samples and references of almost anything your imagination can stretch to. It’s no coincidence that jungle was galvanised at this speed. It’s also no coincidence that erstwhile DMC champ, 20/20 LDN resident and renowned beat-fuser Jon1st is happy flexing along this axis.
“One hundred percent! That’s exactly what drew me to it,” exclaims Jon, a London-born, Leicester-based DJ who frequently uses 160bpm as an anchor for his wild-style beat bonanzas.
“I discovered footwork and juke in 2011 through Planet Mu’s ‘Bangs & Works’ compilations and, like many others at the time, loved their influences on different genres within club music. It was so much fun DJing with the halftime and double-time grooves of those genres mixed with other music around that tempo. It was a really exciting time.”
This magic moment in musical time caught Jon at the perfect stage of his DJ journey, and he’s remained excited to this day. Then in his early twenties, fresh from an upbringing on 2000s-era instrumental hip-hop, primitive internet, nerdy forum foraging and endless hours of turntable studies, it’s a melting pot mindset he’s carried ever since — as a club DJ who can keep you moving, and as a competitive showman turntablist who can dazzle you with mixology madness.
“I’d say that the concept of playing with lots of different grooves at a fixed tempo has influenced me a lot with my end of year megamixes, too,” says Jon. It’s a tradition he’s held down since 2010, more often than not on Ninja Tune’s hallowed Solid Steel series. This year’s end of year megamix is hosted via DJ Mag’s On Cue series, and you can check it out below. “I’m still taking that approach of trying to blend and chop up records together into new contexts, but taking the selection to a far wider tempo range than I have for a while. Finding all those connections between tracks and creating a journey for a mix or a set is one of my favourite things about DJing.”