Initially coming across more like an unenthusiastic videogame store employee than the creator of one of the year’s best rap albums, it doesn't come as a surprise to discover that Jonwayne (real name, Jon Wayne – a descendant of the general that Marion Morrison took his stage name from) first discovered music-making via a PlayStation game.
“I used that for a little bit, and it was really intriguing to me. I moved on to computer programs and found out about FruityLoops, maybe when I was 14. I was making terrible, awful music until like three years ago.”
He'd also been exploring poetry at school and began to combine it with his beats around the age of 17, realising that what he'd been doing wasn't a far cry from making rap music. However, when his instrumentals began attracting attention at Los Angeles Beat Music epicentre, Low End Theory, lyrics took a back seat.
At the age of 18, the La Habra, California native got a car and began to drive into LA for shows.
“I wasn’t allowed into a lot of venues. The one place that was really nice and crackin’, that I could get to, was Low End Theory, and the first show I saw was Mr. Dibia$e playing there. He was just playing beats and I’d never heard of that before, so it was really fascinating to me.”
Becoming a regular at beat music’s mecca, Jonwayne would attend weekly, passing out demos and building relationships throughout the scene, which he describes as “a laborious but fascinating process”.
Despite having previously not taken his beat-making seriously, choosing instead to pursue his talents as a rapper, Low End Theory opened his eyes up to an alternative route and he soon became known for his instrumentals.
“I like to practice on making my weaknesses my strengths,” he explains. “I wanted to figure out if I could make beats like that.”