Beats by Beat: Strict Face – of Nina Las Vegas’ NLV label – drops a mix that ‘hits hard’

Beats by Beat: Strict Face – of Nina Las Vegas’ NLV label – drops a mix that ‘hits hard’

Strict Face
Words by Sam Howard

The mix comes as Strict Face shares his latest release, 'TasteFlash' – a percussive-thirsty number with off-kilter drums patterns, synths, and enough bass to fill a colosseum.

Strict Face, aka Jon, is an absolute expert of crafting percussive, UK-inspired tracks that make you itch for the sweaty dance floor. From FBi Radio to Boiler Room, Strict Face has frequented both the streams and airwaves for years now and has stepped into global domination with the close-knit crew of Nina Las Vegas’s NLV record label.

His obsession with off beats and exploring rhythms fall well beyond the 4×4 patterns of traditional electronic music, and make his tunes thoroughly entertaining.

We got the chance to speak to Jon about his journey from small town Tarndanya, aka Adelaide, and his latest offering, TasteFlash – his release with his signature thick levels of bass with generous dollops of synth and snare stabs on top.

Get to know the best emerging Melbourne DJ talent through our Beats by Beat series here.

Lockdowns in Adelaide have fortunately differed from the rest of the country for Jon, with one of those becoming even shorter than planned, namely due to “Pizza Man” throwing the entire population of the state into their houses for giving false information about popping in to buy his greasy dinner.

He has a great appreciation for the supportive scene in Adelaide, but believes there’s always been a much bigger love for the European or Berlin-inspired deep or minimal tech-house sound there, rather than his love for the UK-inspired grime and garage sounds.

“I’ve always been into that side of music ever since I started getting into electronic music and it’s something I’ve been heavily invested in,” he said.

“I came to it through artists like Aphex Twin and Artful Dodger as a kid – I always found it fascinating hearing tracks like those sometimes infiltrating the Australian mainstream outside of regular pop music – and it always stayed in the back of my mind until I got to an age where I started really exploring the history of UK dance music.

“I found Rinse and NTS and was a pretty keen observer where all that music came from. This was before I was allowed to go out legally and when I was old enough to go out, there still wasn’t really much of a scene for the songs I wanted to hear.”

Nina Las Vegas discovered his music in connection with some British producers who were playing it, and he said he’s “pretty sure” she wasn’t aware that he was from small-town Adelaide.

Getting music out there is often a much larger challenge than for producers with an array of platforms for a wide range of music across Melbourne and Sydney, where both national and international music selectors and producers are seeking out new talent.

The two met at an NLV Presents show when Nina was bringing artists across from America and Europe, and after they kept chatting, she said she was keen to start the label, get him on board, and he was totally up for it.

Of all the parties he’s been a part of, Strict Face said that the NLV birthday throwdowns have been among the best, and he’s thoroughly enjoyed the process of watching the rest of the crew of the record label flourish in strides.

“The label has such a diverse crew of artists and there really wasn’t anyone pushing that sound on such a large scale in Australia except for Nina,” he continued.

“She really took a gamble on it and now you can see how Ninajirachi and Kota Banks have established themselves as great artists and the whole collective just continues to grow. It’s been so great witnessing that.

“I didn’t think that was impossible but given the amount of time it took Australia to warm up to emerging club music of this sound, it was a pleasant surprise when people got onto it as quickly as they did when a lot of that music wasn’t really frequenting the dancefloors,” he said. 

The crew never hold back at those parties, and Jon says it’s just straight up fun. But of all the gigs he’s performed so far, it’s not surprising that his Boiler Room gig was one of the best.

“That night was – for lack of a better term – interesting,” he said, reflecting on the pouring rain on the top of the Curtain House rooftop that cut his set as the power went out.

The night ended after maybe a few too many beverages and “shit-chatting” that led to him opening his eyes at the airport after a very well-needed nap and having to suddenly call his boss to say he wasn’t going to make it to work on time (at 6am in the morning) because he missed his flight.

“Sorry boss, I can’t come in to work today because I had a Boiler Room set last night,” we both joked.

 Jon has nailed his list of reputable platforms to perform on, with mixes on many of his favourite mix series’ already, including NTS, Rinse, Triple J and most recently, Crack Magazine. If Jon had one dream platform to play on, he said Resident Advisor would be the one.

During lockdowns, he wasn’t sure whether it was timely to create dancefloor music when dancefloors simply weren’t available. But instead of changing his sound to suit the mood of lockdowns, he decided to reintroduce his fast percussive-heavy, unique sound and sent across some demo tape to Nina.

She loved it, and overtime it developed into the tracks he wanted to play as soon as d-floors opened up, and the release has come at the perfect time as the biggest cities reach their days of dancing freedom. 

Strict Face’s Pulsers EP is the most recent release that’s allowed us to have the pleasure of getting Jon to produce a super fun mix for the Beats by Beat series.

This mix is dedicated to taking people on the dancefloor with an intention to showcase, “just really fun music that people really want to dance to. If you want it to hit hard, just crank out a full glass, turn the lights out, get yourself somewhat boozy and just let your legs wander,” he said.

You can listen to the full mix and so many others up on our Soundcloud here.