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'The best job I ever had' is how Jon Carter sums up his career to date. Born 30 years ago on the outskirts of London, Jon's rise to prominence was triggered, like so many of his generation, by the Acid House revolution of 88-89 when the warehouse parties that happened nationwide suddenly made music so much more accessible than ever before.

A move to Southampton around this time also signalled Jon's move into making music as he put together his first band. With Jon on vocals and handling the production they performed dark, maddening dub and funk in an Irish Dockers pub and wherever else would have them.

In tandem with this, Jon began his training as a sound engineer before returning to London where he finished up and gained vital experience with drum n' bass pioneers No U-Turn. Engineering and programming tracks for the early stars of the Drum n' Bass scene like DJ Trace and MC Rhyme Time, Jon began to circulate tapes of his own musical ideas. Bored with House music's gradual decline into self parody, his own product was the remedy, taking the breaks down tempo and rediscovering the funk the makes all good music so vital.

The breakthrough came in 1994 with a dub coloured 4/4 track 'The Dollar', Jon's first disc outing on the then still embryonic Wall Of Sound label. A subsequent move to Heavenly was marked by the release of 'Blow The Whole Joint Up' under the name Monkey Mafia, one of the defining tunes of the era and still a club favourite five years later.

It was at the same time that Jon started to really turn heads as a DJ. Alongside Norman Cook, the Chemical Brothers and Andy Weatherall, Jon was one of the original residents at the then mind-blowing and now legendary Heavenly Social. It was the Social that formed the platform for Monkey Mafia to develop as a live band and for Jon to release a string of powerhouse singles; anchoring a sound that was starting to blow people away as his DJ career went through the roof.

His work behind the decks was opened up to wider scrutiny with the release of two outstanding mix CDs: 'Live at the Social Vol. 2' and an essential mix together with Paul Oakenfold and Pete Tong. All this whist his own studio product, Monkey Mafia, was honing itself with firstly 'Work Mi Body' (with reggae star Patra on vocals) and then the acclaimed '15 Steps EP'.

Reimx wise, Jon has worked with some of music's biggest names, from right across the musical spectrum; U2, Manic Street Preachers and the Prodigy (with whom Jon toured as a DJ). But it's probably his remixing of lesser known artists that has yielded the most satisfying results- Selectah's 'Wede Man', 'Cubik' by 808 State and last year's treatment of the Sugar Hill classic Breakdance Boogie by West St Mob. Most recently it's been tracks by the likes of Luke Slater and Felix Da Housecatt getting the Carter touch whilst his remix of a new Mekon/ Roxanne Shante tune is due out later in the year. The latter three have been linked by a fierce uptempo drive but at the other end of the scale Jon has also excelled- and nowhere more so than his delicate reworking of the Beach Boys genius 'God Only Knows' which crept out almost unnoticed as a DJ promo and has been in demand ever since.

Although currently in the process of putting together a new live project, the live incarnation of Monkey Mafia, which gigged almost constantly in 1997-8, proved to be a great success, supporting first Roni Size & Reprezent and then Massive Attack on nationwide tours. 1998 also saw the release of the Monkey Mafia album 'Shoot The Boss' which was a Mixmag album of the month and universally critically acclaimed. Ranging from the almost symphonic disquiet of 'The Whore Of Babylon' through to the achingly beautiful soul of 'As Long As I Can See The Light', the album was a triumphant tour de force as well as Jon's swansong on Heavenly, whom he left for a return to Wall Of Sound and their new House music offshoot Nu Camp.

It was a union that almost immediately bore fruit as 'Women Beat Their Men' emerged, released under the stylish new moniker of Junior Cartier. A track inspired by the re-emergence of House music with real funk and energy, it also pioneered a new, entirely original sound that was almost a genre in itself. As long as two years ago Jon had reworked his own 'Work Mi Body' into a driving House track but commercially 'Women Beat Their Men' was the great leap forward.

'Women Beat Their Men' also served to bring the Carter sound to an entirely new and wider audience- something that has been reflected in the almost exponential upward curve that Jon's DJing has embarked upon in the last year. Alongside a hugely successful ongoing residencies for Bugged Out at Cream and at Fabric, Jon has recently completed a four month residency with Justin Robertson at London's Home, a slot secured after a wildly successful two week stint in Ibiza where his fired up House sets were the talk of the island. Internationally, it's probably now easier to list the countries Jon hasn't played but undoubted highlights have been a millennium eve gig on Sydney's Bondai Beach and Jon's participation in Brazil's largest carnival in Salvador where, atop a huge mobile sound system, Jon played out before an audience numbering upwards of three million.

The near constant criss-crossing of the globe has unsurprisingly slowed Jon's prolific studio output but a new album is set for release early in the new year. In the meantime Jon has been one of the first artists to be featured in a series of DMC mix albums, issued in conjunction with 7 magazine. A double set, mixed live by Jon with very little of the usual associated studio trickery, the album perfectly encapsulates the raw energy of Jon Carter the DJ. It's maybe more polished than 'Live At The Social Vol. 2' but it still highlights Jon's capacity to surprise, delight and most of all, to entertain. The best job he ever had- and its getting better all the time.

© Ricky Cox 2007
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