Peter Jonason, known as CNTR, is an electronic artist and producer from Stockholm, Sweden.
The Swedish artist introduced his electronic sound with his debut EP “There’s Something About You”, released in April 2017. The 4 track EP brilliantly portrayed CNTR’s own universe, made of “piano & beats.”
Along with his solo projects, the London-based artist has been working with various artists such as singer/songwriter Yvonne Hercules, Swedish artist Tilda Allie and electronic artist PILLARS.
His last remix “Mariah” is now available on all major streaming platforms.
Introduce yourself. What’s your story?
My name is Peter Jonason aka CNTR. I’m an electronic artist and producer from Sweden who moved to London about three and a half years ago to pursue a career in music. I first started in music as a drummer and then moved on to singing, DJing, playing keys and eventually producing. I started CNTR about 2 years ago, just as I had shelved my DJing career. In 2017 I released two singles and my first EP ’There’s Something About You’ and have since produced for a few other artists around the UK and Scandinavia and also made a few remixes.
Tell us a little bit about your childhood. Did you grow up in a creative family? What did you grow up listening to?
I grew up in a working-class family in a suburb of Stockholm in a little green house with a weird garden. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been an outdoor person and that weird garden was my best friend. Running around, climbing trees, building snow jumps in the winter that surprisingly never broke any bone. My parents are huge fans of music and have both played a few instruments in their days, but never professionally. My older brother Erik on the other hand, is an amazing guitarist and he was my biggest inspiration growing up. He was the one who introduced me to music and without him I don’t think I would be where I am. When he started playing in his first band, I got to come along to the rehearsals and I used to pretend that I was playing a very important part of the band from a broken chair in the corner of the room.
A few years later, I asked my parents if I could start playing an instrument too. They were really supportive so we started applying for music lessons of all sorts. I originally wanted to play Saxophone (amazing instrument, yes, but pretty happy I didn’t follow up on that dream) but the Saxophone class was already full so they got me into the ’Synth’ class instead which was a lot less cool than it sounds. A few years later I realised that I had a lot of rhythm in my body that wanted to come out so I applied to the drum class and I got accepted. Before I knew it, I was a drummer in two rock bands and I was studying at a music college where I also had my first music production lessons. We also had mandatory vocal lessons once a week which I found surprisingly enjoyable and I noticed I was pretty good at it too, which led me to become the lead singer as well as the drummer of one of my bands.
When did you start making music? Do you remember the first track you’ve ever made?
We began by playing covers, mostly ACDC and The Rolling Stones stuff, but eventually we began writing our own material. The first song I wrote from start to finish was called ‘Go Away’ and it was pure shit! I think I’ve still got a recording of it which some poor guy helped us to record, where I’m shouting incoherent lyrics and my voice has just hit that lovely period in a young man’s life, where it cannot, in any way, be controlled. The pitch is ALL OVER the place. Keeping old recordings is not just for sentimental value but you can also pat yourself on the back and say, ‘at least you have improved a little bit…’
When did you start feeling connected to music? Was there anyone in your entourage who introduced you to the creative journey?
Around the time where we started taking the band seriously and spent money to record our first EP, I really started connecting with music and with what I was doing. I realised that I was somewhat talented and I wanted to see where that could take me. The music industry is difficult and pretty horrible, but I figured I was in too deep to back down and therefore I made it my mission to succeed and to find a job within the industry. When the last band I’ve been in was splitting up, I had just started DJing and found the world of electronic music. I decided I needed a change.
You are originally from Sweden. What made you want to move to the UK? When did you move there?
I’d found an university in London where I figured I could study music production, get loads of new influences and the thought of moving away from Sweden at the time was pretty appealing. So in 2014, I packed my bags and left. I had never been to London before and it was an amazing time. Everything was new to me and it was exactly what I wanted. I studied hard and met some unforgettable people along the way. CNTR was actually created within uni walls and the first song I wrote was for a songwriting submission.
How does London affect your creativity?
London is an amazing place for creators of any field. There’s so much going on and there’s so much to take inspiration from. University worked as a catalyst for me and I finally felt that I had the time and tools to hone my productions and songwriting skills. As there are so many creatives in London, it’s very easy to find yourself surrounded by like-minded people who inspire you, challenge you and motivate you to work harder and be the best you can be. The years in London have been life changing for me.
Tell us about your last remix “Mariah”. How did it come about? What made you pick this particular record, “Emotions” by Mariah Carey? What inspired you about these vocals/melodies?
‘Mariah’ was one of those one session type of things that usually never happen, ever. I was in my studio early one morning and started playing around with a synthesiser and recorded a chord progression. I kept building the chords with bass and a drumbeat and pretty quickly had the instrumental down. I wanted to add an vocal element of some kind and after a bit of YouTubing, I found an accappella recording of Mariah Carey’s ‘Emotions’. I’ve never appreciated that woman’s voice enough in the past, she’s just been that ‘All I want for Christmas….’ girl once a year, but her voice is pretty insane! The instrumental I had been writing on was unknowingly recorded in the same key and very close tempo as ‘Emotions’, which I took as some sort of sign. We’ll see if Mariah’s publisher feels the same way….
Take us to your creative process. How do you usually work? How long do you take to make a track?
I love sound design and making stuff sound weird, and it usually starts like that. I’ve never started by writing lyrics of a structure, it just comes from jamming or coming up with a transition from one sound to another. The process varies a lot, and as I mentioned ‘Mariah’ was made in a day, but ‘Obsession’ from my EP took about a month to finish. My hard drive is full of songs that aren’t finished, that I started working on years ago. Sometimes you just get stuck and I find the only way to get unstuck. And to keep myself from losing my mind is to move on and to write new music. If that song you started working on a year ago is actually good, you will still like the idea later on.
What music softwares do you usually use? Do you play any instrument?
I started as a Logic user which I still use for a lot of my workflow, but I also use Ableton Live and ProTools. I play drums, keys (piano and synths) and I sing.
In your opinion, what makes a good production?
I just love it when it sounds a bit weird. When you can tell the producer has given it thought and effort, not to just make it sound good but also interesting.
Creating music can be an endless process. When do you know your track is finished?
This took me years, but I’ve finally realised that if I think it sounds good, someone else probably will to… (hopefully).
You are also an artist. What vision do you have for your art?
I haven’t had enough time the last six months for my own music as I’ve been producing for a lot of other artists, but I really want to get back to writing and producing my own material. The plan for 2018 is to release another EP and to play more live shows.
How would you describe your sound?
Piano & beats.
What inspires you the most about the UK music scene?
In the UK, or at least in London there’s something for everyone, which I think is great! And with so many live venues and gigs happening every night there’s so much inspiration to take from it.
Networking is key as artists. How did you build your new network in London?
University was definitely a good introduction to London’s music network and just by making friends, I’ve met more likeminded people who know people who know people.
How do you listen to music? Do you listen to the production first, or the vocals, or the melodies?
Definitely production first.
What keeps you going?
I will never stop making music. Sometimes I don’t care what other people think about my songs, but I just have to make something otherwise I would probably go mad.
What projects are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m producing an EP for my friend Yvonne Hercules, I’m producing a single for Brighton based (fellow Swede) Tilda Allie and a single for PILLARS. And I’ve also finally made some time for my own music again. One of my first single is coming out on a exclusive vinyl release soon, which I’m really excited about!
What’s your purpose?
I mainly make music to keep me sane and if people like it, that holds my head a bit higher.
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