On September 14th Norway native Fehrplay, aka Jonas Fehr, makes his way to Seattle stopping at Foundation Nightclub for the Anjunabeats World Wide Tour alongside Grum. But before the show, Jonas sat down with us to discuss the beginning of his music career, life in Norway, and his rapid rise to prominence.
Jonas is known for his deep, progressive house and trance, with dark brooding vibes, and it’s no wonder that Jonas has seen such rapid success so quickly. With support from Eric Prydz through a release on his Pryda Friends label, to a guest mix on Above and Beyond’s Group Therapy, Fehrplay’s been featured early and often across the scene. Through a love and passion for dance music, plus a lot of perseverance and attention to his own particular sound, Jonas developed quickly, and his work ethic appealed to many artists and producers.
Early Life and Career in Norway
In Europe, at the onset of trance and house music in the early 90s, one name became synonymous with genre. Tiesto, alongside his trance partner at the time Ferry Corsten, carved a niche into the dance music community and revolutionized the genres forever. Many young artists and producers during this time and beyond can credit Tiesto as an influence, and can trace back their love for the genre all the way back to him. For Jonas, this is also true, as Tiesto was his first exposure to dance music.
“There wasn’t a big dance music community as far as I knew. But I think I was a bit to young to know at the time. I started listing to trance and funky house when I was around 13 years old. I remember picking up a copy form the series ‘In trance we trust’ Owned by Tiesto, and I was blown away by the energy, melodies, and the progression.”
Soon after this discovery, Jonas moved from his hometown of Oslo, to Manchester, which at the time was a haven for underground dance music. Additionally, many big name artists like Paul Oakenfold and Paul van Dyk played shows at historic venues there. This move exposed Jonas further to dance music, where he realized that he wanted to be a musician. His passion grew out of those clubs in Manchester, it also instilled within him a drive to be just as good, if not better, than those artists he would see playing every night.
“The years I had in Manchester were a huge influence on me for sure. Going to clubs every week that would have the best names in the biz playing, was amazing. Also I was blown away by how much club music was part of the music culture there in general. Everyone had their favorite DJ, and dance music was always being played on the radio. A big change from Norway.”
A rising career, and support from two industry titans
Living in Manchester inspired Jonas on a fundamental creative level. But this itch wouldn’t be satisfied by just producing tracks in his basement. He has his sights high, and he wanted to be like those artists that influenced him in Manchester. So he began playing around with his production style, and quickly formed the dark progressive sound we’ve grown accustomed to from him.
This sound was something unique, having not yet spread through the scene. Add in his work ethic, as well as his attention to detail, and people began to take notice quickly. More specifically Eric Prydz signed him to Pryda Friends, and it’s this support that really paved the way for his skyrocketing career.
“It was crazy when it happened. As I was a big fan of (Prydz). It definitely helped me start my career, and I’m very grateful for that.”
After support from Eric Prydz, more and more artists began to take notice, leading to collaboration opportunities and guest mixes, most notably from Above & Beyond, who recently featured Fehrplay on Episode 246 of their weekly Group Therapy show. This guest mix officially ushered Jonas into the Anjuna family, opening plenty of doors for the newest edition to the dance community.
“I love doing stuff for the A&B guys. Their fan base is amazing, and full of awesome people. It’s alway great to test new stuff in the group therapy mixes as it reaches a lot of people around the world. I’m sure I will be at some live events soon.”
Musical Inspirations & New Music
Everyone has music and artist that inspire them. For Jonas, that inspiration came from musical scores curated by the talented Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson Williams. Music inspiration goes far beyond any one person though, or any one time period.
“I would say I get most of my inspiration from non-EDM artists. Film scores can be incredible. I’m also a big jazz fan. I love the randomness of the melodies, and the always engaging progression in the music.”
Jonas frequently pulls inspiration from movie scores, noting that if he wasn’t a musical artist, he would love to do work in film. He dabbled briefly in making movies while in school, as his main area of focus until he decided to switch over to music instead. You can hear that film and jazz influence in his music too, most notably as a driving force in his recently-released Tannhauser EP.
“The new EP just came out on my label ‘Mood of Mind.’ It’s a 2-track EP with lots of inspirations taken from the movie Bladerunner. I love the music in that film, composed by Vangelis, and it has always been a big influence in my music. The EP is dark and progressive.”
Whether it’s inspiration from films, or from iconic artists like Tiesto, it’s apparent just how much Jonas appreciates music. From production, to vibe, to touring and mixing, Jonas has made a name for himself with a signature sound, but also with a passion that is unmatched by many in the industry today.
Advice To Other Artists
A major benefit to having this amazing discussions with artists, aside from learning about their unique journeys, ais the insight they provide on what it takes to make it in the industry. Jonas’ advice? Focus on your own music, not what other’s are doing.
“I think the best advice I could give is; don’t focus to much on what everyone else is doing, and try not have your main motivation be that you want to impress people. Free yourself from that, and treat your music like it’s a playful game, and just have fun, it’s the best way to find your own sound and to really have fun with what you are doing.”
Having fun with music is a reward unto itself. The more someone enjoys what they are doing, the more that others will appreciate what they’re doing. The more that someone works towards focusing their energy on their own music, rather than on popularity or what other’s are doing, the more likely they’ll enjoy the process much more. Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses before you even enter the garden. That doesn’t mean that getting to the garden is any less important, it just means that you’ll be more excited to what is growing there. That’s true with music, and with our own lives. Take it one day at time, do what you love, and you’ll never “work” a day in your life!