The duo of Joe & Jonty, collectively known as One Bit, talk to TheBerlinClub about the importance of collaboration in their creative process. The pair give advice to up & coming creatives keen on emulating their success.
7 minute read
Interview: Sam // Words: Ollie
“Collaboration is key, work with as many people as possible…”
We sat down with One Bit, consisting of production duo Joe Murphy & Jonty Howard to discuss how they started out in music, the challenges faced, successes & what we should expect from them in the future.
“There is something to be learned from everyone” Jonty continues.
Where It All Began. //
Joe & Jonty started out in music from an early age. Born to a Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton loving father, Jonty played cello from the age of 4, while Joe, with a Beatles loving father, played clarinet from the age of 5 before moving on to play drums in secondary school. Describing the origins of his current passion, Joe says: “I recorded a song one day & didn’t like the production. I knew I could do better if I had more time & it was then that I realised I wanted to be a producer”.
This clarity of thought was not always apparent. Jonty reveals how he always believed he would be a cello teacher, while Joe jokes how close he was to studying clarinet at university, however the duo’s career path was to change when the pair met at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA). “We lived together in final year. A lot of the big recording studios were closing, so there weren’t a lot of jobs or if there were, they weren’t paid. We therefore did a few things ourselves with bands in our early days by hiring recording studios. We quickly found the time pressure hard because you have to get everything done in a stressful 12-hour day as that is all you rented the studio for” Jonty explains.
This early learning curve was the catalyst for the pair to take their hobby to another level. Jonty says, “We found this big country house in the middle of nowhere in Hertfordshire & put a studio in that. The idea was bands could live & record in the place for a month for the price they could get 2 days in a London studio”.
After working successfully with several artists, Joe reveals how the two learned to commercialise their effort: “We were making tracks for bands & singers to sing on. At a gig, one of the bands who had heard some of our work on the radio asked us to send over the music we had been making. They asked us what our song writing splits were. We were like no, we didn’t write the songs, we just make the music. They were like yes, you should be having half the song writing credits!”.
Jonty adds, “We got our first publishing deal off the back of that conversation & learned about the music business quickly”.
The Creative Process. //
Having helped produce and / or write big hits for the likes of Noah Cyrus, Louisa, JP Cooper & Stormzy, the pair are keen to touch on the science of creating music.
Despite achieving critical acclaim & to date, having over 40 million global streams on Spotify alone, Joe admits song writing was not an immediate focus: “We kind of fell into song writing by accident, we started out just learning to record & produce…it evolved from there. We like the influence you can have if you are involved in writing; there is a glass ceiling if you are just producing something where the lyrics & composition have already been created”.
Jonty explains the common approach they have to producing: “The hit songs have an average of 5 songwriters working on them. It normally starts out with a synth or guitar & very quickly can go from that to something. You always have to try & get the chorus right first, everything is built around that”.
One Bit’s identity is built around collaboration & that is something the pair emphasise in our chat. Joe notes, “We like being a duo because we hear music differently, so if we collectively like something, chances are it will be liked by others. However, it would be easy to get bored quickly if it was just us. I like the variety of working with different artists, creativity originates from diversity of thought”.
This assortment of input means One Bit’s work is difficult to categorise into a genre. Jonty says their ideology is to create “something that makes you move without getting too deep or heavy”. The range of contributions also leads to fascinating developments in the studio. Jonty adds, “Sometimes you have written something with & for a male vocalist, but then get a female vocalist to sing it & the whole song complexion changes. It’s the most interesting bit for me”.
As a platinum selling group, the pair have had many successes. Alongside the first release under their original record label, Joe explains one of his highs on the journey so far is simply hearing their music being played: “Walking into a shopping centre or driving in a car & hearing our song is amazing. It’s surreal!”.
Jonty adds, “Sometimes I actually hear our music & think, because we’re improving all the time, we could have done something better. It’s an odd but a positive feeling hearing your own music. What I love the most though is knowing loads of people have heard our music…that is after all why we make it”.
Asked for other successes, the pair are confluent in their response, agreeing the simple fact of being autonomous is something to cherish. “It is really satisfying being the producers. It means you have complete control over whether to release something or not” states Jonty.
Continuing, he adds, “We never had an agenda starting out to make loads of money, it was just to give us an outlet, so whatever we end up creating, it has to be what we want. I think striving for a hit is the wrong approach, you should just make something you like. That way, even if it doesn’t work out, you can still feel proud & have no regrets”.
No journey is complete without difficulties & Joe & Jonty note their challenges during the interview. Jonty states, “I get imposter syndrome often. It is easy to wake up & think I am not cut out for this. You hear songs people make & think no way I can make a song as good as that”.
“So much of what we do involves constant setbacks. It can be hard keeping level-headed because you get told all these amazing things are going to happen & then they don’t. Now, I am very much of the mind that I believe it when I see it” says Joe.
Jonty agrees, “The little knockbacks hurt the most. When you believe something is going to boom & then it doesn’t…that is hard”.
The collective have learned to deal with these tests. “The key is to keep a balance, not to get too excited or worry too much as things change all the time. Having that mindset helps you learn what’s important to care about. I used to think way too much about every little thing…as soon as you take a step back & see the big picture, you realise things are pretty good” comments Jonty.
Expressing thoughts on what is to come, Joe’s vision is clear: “I want to put a body of work together, maybe an album. That would be satisfying”.
Jonty details the immediate future: “We are working on lots of visual output, a few singles & remixes. While we have huge aspirations & would love a number 1, I don’t think it’s healthy to pin our lives on it. There is no end goal, we just want to have fun”.
Joe approves of this mentality: “The main thing is enjoying the process. It would be easy to get bogged down in the stats, but we have never really been in it for a pat on the back or fame".
Jonty adds, "Happiness is key. If I wanted a nice & easy life, I could have just pursued a normal career. Doing something for enjoyment, something you believe in & love is why I am self-employed & the aim is just to keep that going for as long as possible”.
We conclude the interview with Joe & Jonty providing their advice to up & coming creative talents. Joe advises, “Put the work in & produce lots of content. The more you produce, the more likely you are to create something which sticks. It’s important to not dwell on failures, things will work out”.
Jonty’s advice aligns with the collaborative nature of One Bit: “Learning to take different opinions as constructive is important. If someone says they don’t like something, you can bet there are millions with a similar view. Listening, even if you don’t want to, is the only way to learn your audience”.
While being team-players at heart, the pair are keen to emphasise the imperativeness of being decisive. Jonty expresses this view articulately: “People are much more engaged & able to guide you more effectively when you have a clear idea of what you want to do”.
An ability to both lead & facilitate other creatives, One Bit are an example of the skillset needed in any successful venture & further success is sure to follow for the duo.
One Bit’s new single ‘Back To Your ft. Laura White’ is out now
Follow One Bit @onebitmusic