With his debut album 'Transmissions From A Landlocked Island' due very soon, expect to hear a lot more about Spatial Awareness in the coming months
day, Spatial Awareness will be known to many dance music industry
types as Tony Pontius, head of the Hottwerk PR agency. By night, he
crafts genre-defying electronic music that's almost impossible to
pigeonhole - and almost impossible not to love. To date, his productions have graced labels like Corsair Records, Fetch, Zombie Soundsystem and Twirl!, and his DJ skills are much in-demand on those floors where
"Is it house? Is it techno?" doesn't matter so much as
"does it move?".
recent BBC 6Music showcase has helped raise the public profile of
this Southend-on-Sea-based producer no end, and the imminent release
of his debut full-length Transmissions From A Landlocked Island is
likely to push him well and truly into the limelight. Yet to most
people he's still something of a mystery man. Which is why we thought
it was time we got him on the phone to find out more!
than loving the music, we actually know very little about you... care
to introduce Spatial Awareness to iDJ readers?
very much a musical mongrel... part unreconstructed 90s indie kid,
part old school rave enthusiast, part techno fiend, part disco
weirdo, part werewolf. A voracious raider of charity shops’ record
departments from an early age, one of my brothers was into all things
soulful and hip-hop, the other was into New Order and The Cure, and
they crossed paths with the emerging house music that was appearing.
spent a large portion of my teens flitting between the unglamorous DJ
training ground of playing soul and funk in nasty Essex pubs, and
playing bass in terrible punk bands, all the while learning the dark
arts of sound engineering and manipulating analogue synths. I’ve
pretty much been making electronic music and DJing ever since…
Spatial Awareness was born about four or five years ago. It was a
difficult birth; a bit like an electronic version of Rosemary’s
and inspirations are a huge collection of people and labels, but I
can probably boil the all-time list down to Factory Records, New
Order, Larry Levan, Andrew Weatherall, Public Image Limited, Can,
Bowie, Throbbing Gristle, Depth Charge… and about a million more."
'genre' bit on your Facebook page says “House, techno, acid, disco,
dub”. That's quite a broad remit...
techno, acid, disco, dub sounds like
quite a big playing field on the face of it, but I think rather than
seeing it as an 'all things to all people' sort of position, it’s
more about how you mentally arrange these different sounds, in the
way a painter would with colours on a palette. Using an idea from
this, a feeling from that, but cramming it through the filter of
one’s own brain…. that kind of perspective.
do have very eclectic tastes, with a lot of quite disparate things
that go into the Spatial Awareness melting pot. There are elements of
house, elements of disco, acid, techno, dub in there but also many
other things beside – film soundtracks, electronica, post-punk,
Krautrock, synthpop, Bowie and Roxy and more besides. Elements of all
these things seep into the music that I make and play."
understand Spatial Awareness was recently showcased on BBC Radio 6
Music. How did that come about and what did it entail?
has been a great supporter of Spatial Awareness on her Electric
Ladyland show on 6Music for the last couple of years, which has been
a huge thing for me, and I was delighted when I was asked to be the
guest on the show’s 'An Evening With…' slot. Previous guests have
been the likes of Groove Armada, Dusky, Scuba, Moby - very esteemed
company of which to be a part!
chose three tracks - what I like to listen to when I’m getting
ready, out and about, and rounding off a night - and spoke about why
I chose those tracks. On the show Nemone also played my most recent
(on Zombie Soundsystem), and my remix of Miaoux Miaoux’s It’s
Which was jolly nice of her."
debut album is out in April - should we expect any big surprises
musically, or is it more about cementing the sound you've been
establishing so far?
"The album has more of a live, post-punk/Krautrock-influenced feel than previous singles - there are guitars, bass, vocals in with the
synths and drum machines. But you will find both elements of the
established Spatial Awareness sound, and a more interesting,
surprising side. Of course, there are tracks on there that do
translate directly to the dancefloor, but the album was something
that I really wanted to be a cohesive body of work, more of an
interesting listening experience rather than just a dozen club tracks."
we right in thinking there are going to be some live shows to promote
the album as well? Fill us in...
are indeed going to be live shows, the first of which is a London
showcase at The Finsbury on 18 February. The live shows are very
much a live experience in the same sort of oeuvre
as the Chems, Underworld, etc, in that I do play live synths, live
guitars, live vocals... it’s not just someone behind a laptop
pressing play! That sort of thing got boring a long time ago. But
yes, there will be more live dates around the UK and Europe, and some
festival appearances - all to be announced soon."
based in Southend-on-Sea, which isn't really known as a hotbed of
house and techno. What's the scene like locally, and are there any
hot new artists, clubs or labels we should know about?
is a funny old place; mostly (especially in recent years) it’s more
a hotbed of commercial Darren and Sharon meatmarket horror. However,
thankfully there are exceptions: there's always been a delightfully
seedy underbelly of underground enthusiasts.
talents from round here to watch in 2016 would have to include USRNM,
who makes the most sublime techno, and going slightly toward the
leftfield, Alien, who has a new album out soon called What
Happens When You Get To The Edge.
Hot Creations wunderkind Pete Dorling is very active on the scene
round here, his club Life is very popular; Klik is another very
strong night here, run by Pierre Codarin (who has just started his
own label) which gets down some great DJs – word has it Acid
Mondays are at the next do. Kool Kids Klub is a long running night
for the bass aficianados, and there is an emerging night called
Sense, which is starting to develop a real foothold here."
well as being Spatial Awareness, you wear several other hats in the
dance music industry, don't you? Tell us a little bit about that...
day job, if you will, is running Hottwerk Media, which encompasses
Hottwerk Music Publishing and Hottwerk Records, which rather
conveniently is the label that’s releasing my album. I also run a
few other people’s labels for them. My other main musical hat is
that I’m also one half of DPPLGNGRS with Mr Craig Fury, my
Doppelbrother from another Doppelmother."
we sign off, is there anything else you think the world needs to
new EP Ill
has just come out on Chicago’s Twirl! Records, with rather
excellent remixes from Hannah Holland and Shaun J Wright &
Alinka, and I’ve a couple of remixes out soon – Boy George’s
new single Kiss
on Fetch Records, and Killaflaw’s Message
on Wall Of Sound."