Photography by Andy Catlin©
After the release of his magical Die Hard Christmas song, it's been difficult for Third Outing to forget about Jonnie Common. Until then, the boy from Glasgow had been lying low since the release of Kitchen Sync last year, a record created exclusively using the sounds of his kitchen...
So we thought hey, let's give those who have missed out so far a little insider's knowledge on why Jonnie is really not so common after all. For Third Outing, it all began with our discovery of Leith based record label Song, By Toad, run by Matthew, who Common describes as the "Tony Wilson Of Leith, but a bit less difficult".
There were rumours on Facebook that the label had released a Die Hard themed Christmas record and with a natural curiosity, we took the click-bait. What ensued was one of the most engaging, well-written and Goddamn addictive Christmas classics we'd ever heard. Indeed, Yippee-Ki-Yay, Father Christmas was to be only the beginning of our fascination with Jonnie Common and his wonderful way with music.
"I had wanted to write a Christmas song based on Die Hard for forever. I tried once but what came out was way too shmultzy and I scrapped it. When I spoke to Bart from eagleowl about it, he encouraged me to give the Die Hard song another stab and I’m so glad he did.
It might be the most proper song I’ve ever written"
Jonnie Common is the expert of diversity, you discover that very quickly. If you like your artists to stick to one theme and then develop it, the boy isn't for you. His music is that of an all-rounder. Rarely does somebody engage with Electronic music, Acoustic music, Indie music so equally and well. For us, though, it's the way that he joins each of these genres together. There's a vibrancy which each of his records produces, a weird kind of low-decibel buzz, which energizes and gives each track a wave-like movement.
"I don’t listen to my albums much, but since I kind of use them as time capsules, when I do hear them, they always stir up a lot of memories and I get a real kick out of it"
There's two records which stand-out for us, and which we must talk about. First is the 2 track EP Photosynth. It's the pinnacle of this wave-like motion mentioned earlier. A maestro in the art of song writing, both tracks (Photosynth and Bits Of Maschinery) display masterful lyricism and orchestration, utilizing both voice and instrumentation to perfection. It marks Common's transition from the more typical sounds found in his earliest records, towards something altogether quite different. Namely, Kitchen Sync...
"As much as it could be viewed as a new direction for me, I don’t think it’s a sharp turn.
I’ve always put less traditional, perhaps less expected, sounds into my tracks but Kitchen Sync is certainly the most extreme example of that, by quite a way"
Kitchen Sync is a record which famously uses nothing but the items and appliances found in Common's kitchen. Remember that episode of the Fresh prince where he plays Hip Hop on the wine glasses? This is just like that, only to autistic standards. There's a delightful video on Youtube where Common explains the finer details of making the record. It's the ultimate relaxation record, proving Common's keen ear for a sound. Really, who knew an entire record could be made out of such noises, and actually sound so good?
"The pleasing sound of the oven door closing in an old flat set off a chain of events that resulted in me making an album exclusively from sounds in kitchens. It was a labour of love for sure, but I learned a lot doing it and it’s already led to a few possible avenues of development"
With this impressive and varying back catalogue, Jonnie Common has joined a great list of Scottish artists who have pioneered their own style and sound. Join the likes of Arab Strap, Frightened Rabbit, Paws; Common has adapted, inverted and reversed his sound time and time again, becoming a real mainstay of this generation of Scottish artists. It's a lesson in song writing, and that's something which requires skill.