The prince of laid-back summertime vibes, Tom Jack Johnston, or better known as DJ Thomas Jack, is best known for coining the subgenre “tropical house” back in 2013. Other artists who have picked up on the phrase include Kygo, Matoma and Klingande. Jack, a sun-kissed Australian heartthrob, has managed to solidify a place for himself within the festival circuit over the past couple of years. Most notably, the DJ headlined Splash House in Los Angeles, performed at TomorrowWorld on his own curated stage and most recently played Electric Zoo: The 6th Boro.
Before Jack’s epic set at New York City’s Labor Day Weekend celebration known as EZoo, he caught up with DuJour to discuss his musical journey away from his iconic tropical sound. “I started off being tropical and I think over time it changed and I became more excited about this exploratory phase I’m in now. I’m still having fun, and I’m not trying to take it too seriously,” he explains. Jack admits that because tropical house music may as well be engrained in his identity as a performer, he will always be inspired by the sound. “I’m attached to [tropical music]. But I just want people to enjoy my music, no matter what it is. To put it on in the car or wherever and jam out.”
During Jack’s early years, he toured and played nightclubs throughout the United States, on the heels of his successful podcast, Topical House. In 2014 Jack released his debut single “Rivers” featuring Norwegian singers Nico & Vinz, and following that was “Rise Up” with English singer Jasmine Thompson. Although these tracks still incite those feel-good vibes Jack aims for at his shows, the artist has spent this summer preparing to branch out creatively–the only thing that may have thwarted that mission being a stolen laptop.
“I had to redo a lot of stuff and it’s really hard to recreate music, because once that feeling is gone, it’s tough to get back,” he says of this minor speed bump in a process that’s entirely dependent on technology, or more specifically: a computer. “I have new music coming out, but now I’m not sure when it’ll be ready.”
And when I hesitantly suggest the notion that the ability to start over could actually be a good thing, an exciting clean slate, Jack reciprocates this optimism. “Exactly. You get to get rid of all the shit that you weren’t into. Fresh start.”
With a fresh start underway, Jack tells me how he’s been eager to work with elrow, the legendary entertainment brand produced by Spain’s Arnau family. Elrow unites music and colorful atmosphere to create some of the most unforgettable dance music events in Europe and this year, made its debut at New York City’s EZoo. Their special elrow curated stage at the festival’s Hilltop Arena provided limelight for Jack to put on a truly electric set along with elrow residents like De La Swing and The Black Madonna.
As Jack moves forward with creating new music, fans can still count on his energetic performances and positive vibes. Jack will be at Lollapalooza Berlin followed by Hï Ibiza in Ibiza, Spain this fall.
Main image credit: Neil Favila