Of all the house music dudes in the game, Australia’s Wongo is probably one of the happiest, most jovial producers to ever hit the spotlight. Every email exchange, every correspondence with him leaves you feeling better about yourself and the world around you. You can hear it in his music, too. Effervescent but not too bubbly; fun with a bit of edge. He makes proper club bangers that don’t feel like “club bangers.” They’re organic and free-flowing, avoiding many of the patterns and formulas we tend to presume when hearing the term “certified panty dropper.” This is all to say that Wongo is more than just his music, and that’s what makes his music so good.
Wongo’s got a pretty legitimate catalogue under his belt, too. He’s done official remixes for the likes of Beyoncé and Azealia Banks. He holds releases on labels like Sweat It Out, Night Bass, Main Course, and Etcetc. Edits and remixes for Spank Rock, What So Not, Sweater Beats, and Yolanda Be Cool also fill the roster. While some organizations like SoundCloud haven’t taken too kindly to his efforts, the support he’s received from countless artists keeps the man going.
Peep his MiniMix and interview with us and you’ll see what we mean.
Tell us a bit about how you got started as an artist.
I was always interested and destined to do something creative with myself. When I was in high school, I was part of a Bboy crew called Skill @ Will which allowed me to tour the world break dancing which was dope, however I always had a strong connection to music which continued to grow over the years. In my crew I was considered the ‘DJ’ of the group and I didn’t even DJ haha.
Not long after I acquired an early version of Sony Acid Pro where I would loop different breakbeats together to create my own edits. From there I met a few people that introduced me to house and techno, and it was truly then my obsession with electronic music kicked off. I was so dedicated to becoming a producer; I even moved to a farm completely off the grid for six months so I could learn how to use Logic. From there I have never looked back.
Where did the name Wongo come from?
My best mate and childhood friend ‘Fongo’ and I came up with the names from a Limp Bizkit & Method Man collaboration. We took one of Method Man’s lines and created the nicknames and they really stuck. I think more people these days know us by our nicknames more than our real names haha.
What’s the deal with Australia? How is so much good music and so many incredible artists emerging from the continent? More so than most other places of origin lately, or so it seems.
To be honest, it’s a hunger game out here. Visually we see so many artists doing well and because of our tight knit community I feel we all really help each other in different ways, which in turn increases the output from artists. I think there are definitely other countries on par and above creating these same pockets of creativity, but being Australian, I’m always so stoked to see us hitting the global stage! I would give Motez a hug right now if I could.
What’s the scariest thing about Australia?
I asked my wife this question and she said spiders and sharks, which both don’t scare me. I think the illustrious ‘Drop Bear‘ would be the scariest. The death toll is kept secret from modern society to keep up our tourism, but I know they are out there!
Where do you see dance music evolving in the next ten years?
It’s always so hard to judge such a long time frame for an industry that is moving at such a rapid pace. I think ‘EDM’ is going to revert back to a more Eric Prydz melodic and emotional direction. Whilst I see the club scene moving more and more towards ‘techno’ which for me is perfect!
You had a bit of a rivalry with SoundCloud recently, in which you made a hostage video and Spotify came to save you. Whatever happened with that situation?
I was always hoping to receive a letter to take down the video from Facebook, so I could create another video about being bullied by SoundCloud, but it didn’t happen :( Soundcloud never reinstated my account, they were extremely difficult to work with so I let it go. I feel better not having to live through their platform anymore.
What can SoundCloud do to save itself? Anything at this point?
To be honest I’m not sure if they can come back now. The platform is in shambles and I don’t know anyone that goes there to ‘discover’ music anymore, and thats what made it special. It’s just a promotional tool to upload your tracks and get your DJ friends to share it. Not saying it can’t be saved, but for it to do so they would really need to make some serious fundamental changes to how they operate and what they actually offer their customers.
You have some pretty funky sound design. Some of the most original in house music. What is your approach to sound design and what are your tools?
I find myself spending the majority of my time creating sounds. I usually create 4-5 bass sounds before picking one I like. I think a major key point is not using a reference for when I’m in the creative zone. I use my Virus TI-2, Serum and Logic’s inbuilt synth ES2 more than anything else but it’s actually post synth processing that gets my tones; HEAPS of tape emulation, compression, and eq.
Any advice for up & coming artists hoping to make a breakthrough with their art?
Everyone says be original, but there are ‘lines’ you have to stick to in order to be noticed a majority of the time. I think know what you love and try to deconstruct the reasons for why you love it. Then use those reasons to fit into a genre/scene you find yourself surrounded by. Don’t just listen to the latest records doing the rounds and recreate their arrangement; no better way to get unnoticed in today’s industry.
Who do you listen to in your spare time? Any artists we should be on the lookout for?
I mostly listen to non-dance music, unless it’s someone I really love or am connected to’s new album or EP. Going through my latest saved tracks on Spotify and I’ve got The Celestics, Woodes, Sampology, Duckwrth & Barney Artist, etc to give you an idea.
I have been constantly surprised by the amount of great demo tracks we are sent to our Box Of Cats label from artists I have not heard before or are super familiar with. Mancodex, Chick Iverson, Westend, Malive just to name a few. One artist that constantly excites me though is Josh Brown from This Ain’t Bristol. The guy is like a jungle cross industrial techno cross house hybrid that creates compositions no one has heard before.
What do you have coming up in 2017?
The past six months I have barely left the studio. Written a stack of club jams, some more song based stuff as well as some key remixes, all to be revealed soon. I start an Australian tour next month which will see me touring the country for three months. After that, it’s back in the studio and finalising plans to get that Wongo Wordwide action happening.
What can we expect from your MiniMix with us today?
For this mix I went through my Rekordbox and picked the tracks I play the most. Theres a mixed bag. it begins as a peak hour mix and slowly moves into the morning. Which is similar to my DJ sets as well. I don’t like sticking to one ‘genre’ or sound.
Wongo NEST HQ MiniMix Tracklist:
01. Wongo – Yeah Nah
02. Josh Brown – Summet
03. Sluggers – So Much Love (Wongo Mix)
04. Jace Mek – Laughing Matter
05. Kyle Watson – Road Trips
06. Poolclvb – Waiting For You (Walker & Royce Remix)
07. Jeff Doubleu – Before
08. Marc Spence – Standin
09. Nick Olivetti & Sly Turner – 247
10. Mancodex – Ghetto Funk
11. The Cook, The Chef – Stretch Out
12. Chick Iverson – Tongue
13. Eats Everything & Lord Leopard – Song For
14. Little By Little & Wongo – Fantastic
15. Tom EQ – LOL
16. Trooko – True To Myself
17. Bot – House Train