Jono McCleery’s relationship with music is characterised by contrasts.
The songwriter, who grew up in London’s cultural milieu and is still closely linked to the capital of pop culture, was deaf until the age of four and could not perceive any acoustic stimuli. At the age of 11 he picked up a guitar for the first time and just started to warble away on it for himself – and how!
The introverted musician quickly became part of the lively London “underground”. The guitarist became a member of “One Taste Collective” (OTC), a project that was founded in 2004 to support musicians and poets of all styles, counting up to 200 members. Not only has the OTC produced up-and-coming local artists, but also world-renowned talents like Little Dragon, Jamie Woon, Kate Tempest or the Portico Quartet – friends with whom McCleery still works to this day, for example on productions such as “Living Fields” by the Portico Quartet. These young creatives combine jazz, folk and world music with electronic music – thereby creating a network of innovative culture across different styles. FOCUS came up with the name “Folktronica“ for that and regards Jono McCleery as its most important protagonist.
In 2008, Jono McCleery finally produced his first album named “Darkest Light” – all by himself but financed by fans like Vashti Bunyan and DJs at BBC radio. The release of his new album was followed by first tours as supporting acts for Gil-Scot Heron, Bonobo, Fink or other artists of the OTC community like Jamie Woon or Little Dragon. The first labels too showed interest in the British artist. His label debut “There Is” was released in 2011 and a precursor single – a cover inspired by Black’s “Wonderful Life” – delighted his fans and was highly discussed in the blogosphere, as laut.de reported.
From the works that followed one stood out particularly: “Pagodes” (2015). For Andreas Müller from Deutschland Funk, “Pagodes” was a stroke of genius, a pop record with relevance on the scene. Rolling Stone described it as a “flawless album”. Despite these praises, Jono McCleery decided to leave his “highway of success” and to return to his roots. His new album, which he himself produced and designed freely and self-determinedly, completely detached from commercial strategies and style clichés, will be released in November 2020. The title of the production, published by Ninety Day Records, is “Here I am and There you Are” – a homage to the Afro-American jazz musician Terry Callier, who died in 2012. The production carries a deeper meaning within itself: The cover picture shows a cormorant drying its wings, an allegory for cleaning oneself, offloading burdens and regaining strength for the journey ahead.