Graphic designer, father of two children, and a globe-trotting DJ—Jonas Rathsman seems to do it all. Despite hailing from a small village in Sweden, he has been making a global impact in dance music: he recently commanded a second BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix, and completed a tour alongside Disclosure. It's strange to think that this is the same Rathsman that taught himself to DJ at his own parties when no one else would show up.
The nu-disco-infused, house music DJ, and producer first hit the turntables through hip-hop, although his influences changed quickly. "My friend Fredrik Nyberg got me into house music many years ago," says Rathsman. "He was running a weekly night called RA; I went there to check it out and got completely hooked." Rathsman found himself exposed to a new array of positive vibes and outlooks in Gothenburg's house music community. It was then that Rathsman began pursuing the addictive beats and rhythms that his signature style of house music would eventually emulate.
However Rathsman learned how to DJ long before he was introduced to house music. In his earlier years promoting club nights in Sweden, he and his group of friends would struggle to find DJs to play—any music at all. Rathsman was forced to step up behind the decks and learn by trial and error. "It was a rocky start at first, obviously, but I think that's the best way to learn," says Rathsman. "It was good fun and as we improved, the resident nights became more and more frequent and more popular." After a number of releases under the alias Stuffa, with Nyberg—and even a release on Defected—the two went their separate ways in favour of solo pursuits.
Despite working as a graphic designer, Rathsman's music career became more demanding after releases like his widely popular track, "Tobago." He decided his multitasking had to come to an end. "I was getting more and more bookings and it was tricky to keep up with my illustration work, and of course at the same time being a dad," he says. "I've been illustrating and designing for as long as I can remember," he tells THUMP. "But I think when you get an opportunity like this you just have to go for it and see where it takes you—I can always go back to designing if this music thing goes to shit!"
DJing most of his gigs near his home in Sweden and in the UK, Rathsman says he's always been influenced by where he grew up. "There's always been a strong disco community in Sweden—or Scandinavia even—so, when I first started releasing music, I was hugely influenced by moody and dark disco."
Rathsman hasn't strayed far from his signature sound of energetic, reverberating house; he's been focusing on layering his sounds instead of changing them. "It's like cooking a soup: I'm treating all the different sounds as ingredients," says Rathsman. "The more knowledge you have on ingredients and how the they work together, the better the soup!" Using his personal staples, a Roland Juno 106 and his Moog Sub 37, he says he has toned down his gear shopping of late. With a bustling 2015 including a release on Disclosure's new Method White label, Rathsman has conquered the fall with his latest release, "New Generation."
Inaugurating Kompakt's sub-label KX in the process, Rathsman's EP has taken over club sets across the globe. "[Kompakt] keeps releasing quality stuff over and over and they have a sound that I feel suits me well at the moment," says Rathsman. "I love their 'from fans to fans' philosophy when it comes to signing music." While his production techniques have given him a home with respected imprints, it's his skills as a DJ that have garnered him praise of late.
Coming off of numerous appearances on Disclosure's Caracal tour, Rathsman has started his own new bi-monthly mix series, Elements, and plans to bring some of the featured artists on his upcoming 2016 tour. Focused on curating a specific blend of underground music, Rathsman hopes that Elements will bring awareness to new artists that he respects. "I like having that open line of communication with my fans where they can discover music with me."