If you even have a passing interest in house music, then chances are you'll have vibed out to one of Sonny Fodera's productions over the past three years. The Australian native is surely one of the fastest rising DJ and producers in the scene, with a work ethic to match, he's become a near permanent fixture at the biggest house events in the UK and Europe.
Having just released of his third album in as many years, we caught up with him between US and Australian tours, to talk about food, friends and frequently flying.
MoS: We’re here to talk about your new album Frequent Flying, what’s the story behind the album, how long have you been working on it, what was the inspiration behind it?
Sony Fodera: It has been in the making for the last three years. Some of the tracks I started back at end of 2013, but have all been a work in progress over the last few years. For example the track "You & I" was done 2 years ago and is only just dropped, these things just take time I guess, so many people have commented saying how fresh it is, but I’m like it’s old! The track "Promises" is probably the most recent on the album, I made that on a flight from LA to London. Most of the music has been made on the road so I guess the name 'Frequently Flying' makes it very relevant.
How important is the album format to you? Dance music can arguably be trickier to present as an album. What do you think makes a really great dance music album?
This was definitely a challenge for me. I created intros and outros for every track to make them different from the average house track. The album is more song based also, so I wanted to create that. I think what makes a good album is creating diversity, collaborations and doing things you wouldn’t normally do on an EP, something that you can just listen to from start to finish, it takes you on a journey.
There are a lot of collaborators on the album, how do you go about finding vocalists? Do you write the track and the vocals, or do you seek out lyricists?
Most of the vocalists are London based. So it was really cool to be able to get in the studio and work ideas and just jam really. I think this is how the magic happened. Yasmeen, the vocalist on "Caught Up" I actually recorded her in a studio in Manhattan, NYC. I worked in the studio with Janai, Shannon Saunders, Yasmin, Kwame, Alex Mills, Yasmeen & Kate Elsworth where as the vocalists on the rest of the tracks were hooked up through Defected.
The album fits nicely between the dancefloor and home listening, describe your recommended situation for people to listen to the album?
I wanted to create something that can waver in and outside of my regular club music, where you can listen to it anywhere from the club, in your car or on your headphones and so-on a kind of jump between house and soul music. Something more universal I guess. If I had to pick an ideal location it would be at home with friends around, or in your car.
We’re guessing the title of the album refers to the DJ lifestyle of non-stop touring, how difficult do you find frequent flying, what’s the one change you would like to see happen to make touring easier?
I love writing on the road, I get some really good ideas. I am always making new edits on the plane or in the hotel room. But just as much I love being in my studio at home or in London. I guess teleportation would be cool.
You grew up in Australia, what were you listening to in your formative years? Were you involved in the dance music scene over there?
Yeah for sure, I used to play a lot in Australia. I am actually back down under in December touring the album. I was listening to guys like Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Inland Knights, The Sound Republic, The Littlemen, Halo & Hipp-E and DJ Sneak just to name a few. I used to work in a club called Electric Circus where I used to see all these acts.
How did you first get involved with defected?
Simon Dunmore hit me up on Twitter when I dropped my track "Putting It Down" on Green Velvet / Cajmere’s label Cajual Records. He loved the track and got me to remix a couple on Defected. I then sent some original material that got signed to the label, from there I moved to Europe they offered me a residency at Ushuaia in Ibiza and the rest is history. Now I am in London, which is now my home.
You said in an interview you used to send them demos, do you have any tips for aspiring producers for how to get their stuff heard?
Keep pushing on, keep making music and eventually it will happen. Put as much effort in as possible if you want to take it seriously, hard work always pays off.
We read that you live in East London, are you still there? So many DJs seem to live over there – Dusky, Billon, Richie Ahmed, Route 94, why do you think Dalston attracts so many musicians?
I actually just moved out of East London, I have a house in Essex now towards Brentwood still classified as London. I still have my studio in East London at London Fields, but I love the country vibe in Essex it is still close to the city on 30 mins.
We’ve heard you’re a bit of a foodie, where’s your favourite place to eat in London?
I would have to say for BBQ Red Dog Saloon in Hoxton, Pizza either Voodoo Rays in Dalston or Franco Manca in London Fields, Italian Lardo in London Fields or Rotorini in Dalston. For a burger go to Burger & Wine probably the best burger I have had and an amazing red wine selection. For Sushi Novikov, Nobu or Hakkassan. If you are into Caribbean food there is this place that does the bomb jerk chicken called Rice & Spice in Dalston, expect to cue though. Also Alec’s restaurant in Brentwood do a great filet steak with lobster, and the restaurant is in an amazing location in a 200 year old house on a field overlooking London.
You’re currently on a US tour, do you have any bucket list clubs / festivals you still want to play?
Electric Forest, HARD LA, Holy Ship, Bestival Toronto are 4 parties I am dying to play!
Finally, which of the collaborators on Frequent Flying are the craziest on a night out?
Nice question, If I had to pick I would have to say Alex Mills.
Sonny will play Ministry of Sound for Defected's New Year's party, tickets here.