EDEN
Jonathon Ng on his debut album, immersive live show, and what comes next...

In almost every sense EDEN never intended to be successful – it just sort of happened.

The Irish producer was still finding his feet when he noticed that the play counts of his tracks were creeping up, and then creeping up, and then still moving up. Second EP ‘i think you think too much of me’ had a title that suggested a slight wariness of the growing pressure, but the excellence of the music therein just kept the hype burning.

And then came ‘Vertigo’. Released in January, EDEN’s debut album was a phenomenal artistic success, matching languid electronics to exploratory songwriting, an immersive experience hewn from some deeply personal moments in his own life.

Tour dates have been taken to the next level, too. When the producer – real name Jonathon Ng – rings up Clash he’s slightly tired but still shooting with adrenalin from a hugely successful, totally sold out night at London’s cavernous Kentish Town Forum.

“I think that was probably my favourite show that I’ve ever played,” he enthuses. “There was something so… everything just fitted so well together at the concert, and all these people coming out to see the album… It’s been good, man. I can’t really ask for anything more.”

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He’s almost lost for words at times, reflecting on the way so many fans have taken such a complex, at times introverted journey to heart. ‘Vertigo’ was released as an audio-visual document, an incredibly ambitious release, and incredibly difficult to replicate live.

“This show that me and my lighting designer has created, every time play it, it feels like it just fits better together,” he says. “Me and my band members who share a stage with me, it just fits better. And I just think it’s by far the best show I’ve put on, and all the crew around me have made such a life around playing the shows. All the set up, all the gear, all the travel has been all worth it, because they’re really good at their jobs and just amazing to hang out with too. It’s a great relief, I can say that.”

“I felt nervous, actually, during the first few live shows,” the producer reveals. “We started in America. I didn’t know if people would get it, or if they would appreciate it.”

“It wasn’t necessarily a gamble because if people didn’t like it then I was playing the show anyway, because it’s what I like, and what I believe in. But it was on my mind, whether people would like it. And it’s been amazing. After about five shows the fear disappeared, and shows like last night are just so reassuring.”

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I felt nervous, actually, during the first few live shows...

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EDEN is wary getting sucked into life on the road, however. Deciding to lessen the tempo a little, he’s side-stepping the festival circuit to focus on one core goal. “My place is making music,” he says. “And while I’m enjoying this I can’t wait to be home, and be able to make some music or just be creative again.”

“I don’t even know if it’s music that I necessarily want to put out, but I want to make music that’s free from the gravitas or the seriousness of an album,” he continues. “So just make things for the hell of it or the sake of it, and just get back to that. I spent so long working on this album just tweaking and tinkering. I’m really looking forward to creating things from scratch, just making something and forgetting about it.”

“It’s the way I started, just making music for the sake of making music. No one was listening to it at the start but I still made a shit tonne of it. It’s just where I get enjoyment from.”

It’s easy to under-estimate the work this perfectionist producer has put into his work. From those stellar EPs through to ‘Vertigo’, this has been a long journey, and he’s become more and more aware of the rhythmic cycles that underpin creativity. “I think it’s important to – I guess – re-centre yourself, in a way. All of that industry stuff is extra – I would make music by myself in my bedroom. If it was just me again then I would still be doing that. I think you can get distracted by the other things, but to me that’s what it’s all about.”

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I would make music by myself in my bedroom. If it was just me again then I would still be doing that...

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Sometimes fans can appear to feel that making art is easy, we offer, or that it’s effortless. “I think that’s the lens of social media,” he says. “It’s not rose-tinted but it’s photo-shopped. Every single thing you post on social media is your ideal version of yourself. So people see my travelling and so on.”

“Even before there was social media for musicians to express themselves, I’m not going to have an interview with a magazine and talk about how much I hated the last few months, or how much I hated myself right now, because I can’t make music. It’s not something people really talk about for some reason.”

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Which isn’t to say that EDEN is in a dark place. He knows his strengths and his limitations, and he’s aware of the bond, the support his fans show him. “I’m very lucky in that the people who follow me are very open-minded about my music,” he explains, “and the way I’ve consistently taken left turns and done things that are completely… not out of character because I guess after a while that becomes in character, but taking things to places that I thought people wouldn’t like.”

“The album was on my mind for three years, and I was unable to make it, then able to make it, and stressing out about whether or not it was good enough,” he sighs. “And the end product is them receiving the music, some songs, and some interviews. But we tend to skip over the issue of actually making it, and all the behind the scenes stuff. It can be weird. It’s just the world we live in.”

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I’m very lucky in that the people who follow me are very open-minded about my music...

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Wanting to work without limitations, EDEN’s urge to get back to the core of his music needn’t be a solitary one. In fact, he’s begun to put out some feelers for full collaborative work – although the cast is strictly limited.

“It’s a very specific list of people who I would work with,” he says. “So, I’ve quite literally just put a list of people to the team I work with, and said it would be really cool to make this happen. And I’m very aware that none of it might happen – people are busy, people mightn’t like what I do… but there are certain artists who I would just love to work with. People who it maybe wouldn’t necessarily make sense for me to work with.”

“There’s some musicians and artists who I have such an appreciation for what they do that I would just love to see what happens,” he continues. “I’m kind of curious because there’s some people who I just want to see work, and see how they do it, and what happens if I’m in a room with them. It has to be a mutual thing, of course.”

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It has to be a mutual thing...

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“But there’s other people who just make one kind of music, so it’s like, what if a folk musician had to make a song without any ‘real’ instruments? How would they react? What could come from that? It’s not necessarily pushing boundaries but it’s a different way of having that source of inspiration. It’s something I have never tried out, but we’ll see. Possibly I’ll need to figure it out myself, I guess.”

From those early recordings to his debut album, from those initial faltering live shows to his current extra-dimensional colossus, EDEN makes a habit of figuring it out. As our conversation draws to a close, we’re left in no doubt that what comes next will be very special indeed.

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'Vertigo' is out now.

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