JONAH

Off the beaten track, Fuerteventura offers clear blue skies, an emerald sea, and endless sandy beaches. Only a few meters inland, the kitsch, postcard-esque paradise turns into what looks like a mirage of a lunar landscape in black volcanic rock, where cliffs abruptly drop away and a scattering of giant cactus defy the hostile earth and scorching heat: a bizarre island setting, the strange beauty of which infuses the dreamy cerebral cinema soundtrack that is JONAH’s latest work. For after the huge success with “All We Are,” one of the top hits of 2014, the Berlin singer/songwriter duo is now set to release its impatiently anticipated debut album “Wicked Fever.” 

“All We Are” catapulted JONAH to fame two and half years ago, introducing them overnight to an audience of millions. Literally at the speed of sound, the song became the signature tune of a major telephone company’s successful, if not most successful ever TV campaign. Angelo Mammone (vocals) and Christian Steenken (guitar) meanwhile accumulated over 15 million Spotify plays and over 2 million YouTube views. On highly-acclaimed headliner tours all over Germany in 2015/16, the duo forged an excellent reputation, also opening for Joris and Jimmy Eat World front man Jim Adkins. Over the last two years JONAH took the time to work on their debut album, “Wicked Fever,” on which they seamlessly dock on to the sound of  “All We Are” as well as spinning off in new directions.

Time is of the essence to JONAH and quite literally the key to their music. Other bands may quickly follow up a big hit with an average album, but these childhood friends from the North German small town Brake prefer to tinker away for months on end, refining their songs to perfection. JONAH determined to avoid the pitfalls of a hastily composed long-player and the one-hit-wonder fame that often goes with it, instead calmly tuning in to their inner worlds, to fathom their own paths out. DIY—do it yourself—has long been the two musicians’ motto and certainly they were upfront on “Wicked Fever” about the ups and downs of their personal lives, past and present: from intimate sensibilities, to acute observations on the world around them, to the daily existential struggles of a newcomer band on the brink of success. “We had no manager and no label—basically no filter whatsoever—thus thousands of inquiries from all over the globe landed directly on our Facebook page”. Among them some very tempting offers like record deals from major American labels as well as sampler requests and commissions for cinema soundtracks. “It all exploded around us from one day to the next,” Christian Steenken recalls. “In fact, it got so crazy we just decided to no longer even open our email at some point. It was the only way we were able to focus again fully on our music.”

In January 2015, in the remote reaches of Fuerteventura, JONAH began writing the songs for “Wicked Fever.” Somewhere between the depths of the deep blue sea and the arid volcanic moonscape, with neither mobile nor email reception but their own antennae all the more finely tuned, the duo condensed the surreal ambience of their surroundings into their signature slowed-down Indie sound. Eleven pop noir songs that unfold in front of your mind’s eye the way a grainy black and white Polaroid gradually develops, turning into a captivating soundtrack that fires your imagination. JONAH combines organic instruments with electronic elements, an overarching synthetic frame with the melancholic vocals of front man Angelo Mammone. Thereby, they cook up an inimitable and instantly recognizable acoustic aesthetic that is all their own: an at times bittersweet echo; a dramatically driven hybrid fusion of dream and reality, day and night, light and shadow; a kaleidoscope with a thousand facets in which lyrics, music, and sound effortlessly converge. “We worked in utter isolation for months to hone the right sound,” Angelo adds. “And without trying to force anything. We wanted to let it grow, slowly but surely. The album title, “Wicked Fever,” reflects a hard-to-describe feeling, that sense of there being something in the air, palpable but impossible to pin down.” Something like those blurred snapshots that occasionally spring to mind, evoking not only the euphoric moments when thousands of fans sing along to the young combo’s own lyrics but also the struggle of meeting their own high expectations of themselves. “We paint with lyrics and notes in order to convey certain moods. The listeners are welcome to wonder what it is about and perhaps find their own approach to it. Instead of limiting anything by predefining a certain meaning, our intent is simply to spark their imagination. So they can sense for themselves what I’m trying to say in my songs through the fusion of lyrics and music.”

Like in the new version of “All We Are,” the light and breezy “Run,” the far-out “So High,” the psychedelic forward-looking love song “DNA,” or the second single “Deep Deep Blue.”

“The latter was the first song we wrote after ‘All We Are.’ It’s about not knowing where you’re at exactly, or where you’re going. About just diving headfirst into the deep, without having a clue what may happen next. A kind of positive take on what possibly lies ahead of you,” explains Angelo Mammone. ‘Wicked Fever’ is a synthesis of the arts-of lyrics, music, and artwork, for the duo entered into close cooperation with the Australian painter Aaron Kinnane, the man behind the entire album visuals. In collaboration with the Australian calligrapher Matt Vergotis, JONAH also developed one of a kind handwriting typography, as a unique means to emphasize the special character of their songs. “This album is an invitation to our audience to join us on a road trip through our minds and hearts,” Angelo Mammone concludes. “We hope that listeners catch our ‘Wicked Fever!’”

 

Es gibt sie noch: Die magischen Momente, die eine Band aus dem sprichwörtlichen Nichts nach oben katapultieren. Jonah sind das beste Beispiel hierfür. Im Herbst 2014 lieferten sie mit ihrem Song „All We Are“ den Titelsong zur Vodafone- Kampagne „Bucket List“, die bundesweit und senderübergreifend bis in den April 2015 ausgestrahlt wurde. Zum allerersten Mal wählte der Telekommunikations-Riese damit einen deutschen Act für seine Kampagne aus, hatte er zuvor doch ausschließlich internationale Größen wie Empire Of The Sun, Woodkid, Santigold oder Capital Cities in seine Kampagnen eingebunden. Damit ist dem Duo mit „All We Are“ quasi über Nacht, die Entwicklung vom langjährigen Insidertipp zum Next Big Thing geglückt!

Jonah das sind die Singer-Songwriter Angelo Mammone und Christian Steenken. Beide stammen ursprünglich aus der norddeutschen Kleinstadt Brake und was damals im zarten Alter von acht Jahren mit einer Schneeballschlacht auf dem Schulhof begann, das hat sich inzwischen zur tiefen Freundschaft und einer extrem kreativen musikalischen Partnerschaft entwickelt. Erste gemeinsame musikalische Erfahrungen sammelten sie mit der Alternative-Rockband Promises! Promises!, mit der sie durch ganz Europa tourten und im Vorprogramm von Sportfreunde Stiller, Tito & Tarantula, Blackmail, sowie auf Festivals wie dem ungarischen Sziget vor mehr als 60.000 Leuten zu sehen waren. Seit 2009 macht das Duo Mammone / Steenken quer durch die Republik in Wohnzimmerkonzerten oder auf Festivalbühnen, wie z.B. beim Elbjazz, Waterquake und First We Take The Streets Festival als Jonah auf sich aufmerksam.

DIY- Do It Yourself, so die erklärte Maxime von beiden. Vollständige künstlerische Unabhängigkeit, vom Songwriting bis hin zur Produktion. Obendrein spielen sie alle Instrumente für ihre Recordings selbst ein. Eigenregie aus Prinzip. Eine Strategie die Jonah erfolgreich für sich kultiviert haben. In komplettem Alleingang auch entstanden der Song „All We Are“, den sie zudem auf eigene Faust, während einer Listeningsession in der Vodafone-Kampagne platzieren konnten.

Nach gemeinsamen Touren mit dem Sänger von Jimmy Eat World, Jim Adkins, dem Singer-Songwriter Joris und einer eigenen ausverkauften Headlinertour im Mai 2016, stellen Jonah zudem mit der aktuellen Single “Deep Deep Blue“ den Titelsong zum deutschen Kinofilm „Nirgendwo“ vom Regisseur Matthias Starte, der im Herbst 2016 deutschlandweit in den Kinos zu sehen war. In engerer Zusammenarbeit mit ihm steuerten sie außerdem zwei weitere Songs zum Soundtrack bei.

Die beiden Singles „ All We Are“ und „Deep Deep Blue“ sind die ersten Vorboten des kommenden Jonah-Sounds. Ihre Vergangenheit beinhaltend, über die Entwicklung von akustisch-reduzierten Singer-Songwritern hin zum bilderstarken Indie-Pop-Duo das wie eine ganze Band erklingt, findet sich in Jonahs Musik inzwischen eine fast atemberaubende, einzigartige Soundästhetik, hinter der man beim ersten Hören wohl keine Band aus deutschen Landen vermuten würde. Atmosphärischer, unterkühlt- verhallter Zeitlupen-Pop, im Spannungsfeld zwischen The XX, London Grammar oder Sigur Ros, zwischen Traum und Wirklichkeit, Hell und Dunkel, Licht und Schatten, der mit seinem mitreißenden Kopfkino-Sound aus dem Stand ganze Klanguniversen kreiert.

Entstanden ist das langerwartete, nun 2017 erscheinende Debüt-Album im vergangenen Jahr in der wildromantischen Einöde Fuerteventuras, zwischen Vulkangestein und dem Ozean. Weite Soundscapes verbinden sich mit elektronischen Elementen und den markanten, zwischen warmen Neosoul-Einflüssen und skandinavischer Coolness pendelnden Vocals Angelo Mammones zu epischem Indie-Pop. Jonah und die ewige Suche nach dem ganz besonderen Moment – das ist die Antriebskraft hinter ihrem kreativen Schaffen.