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Dj Toner interview by DJ Ness Afro

Ness Radio took some time for this interview to see the light, veteran Spanish DJ and producer, Dj Toner (aka Antonio Herrera) surprised us and raise some questions.  How did he really discover and ended up recording with legendary singer Matha High  ? What is the relationships between Swinging Paris in the early 1900s, Turntabllism , Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and his music ?



Alongside his co-writer/arranger Daniel Molina and with guests that include the legendary Blue Note Records innovator Erik Truffaz and Grammy winning flautist and saxophonist Jorge Pardo, he has just released « OutSide » his his fifth album. DJ Toner has created a 10 track collection of slow-burning instrumentals that straddle the worlds of hip hop, jazz and electronica.  It also happens that was born and raised in Granada,  one the most beautifull city in the world. In Andalusia region of southern Spain, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is famous for its medieval architecture dating back to the Moorish occupation, in particular the Alhambra. Perched on a hill, its vast fortified complex includes royal palaces, tranquil patios and reflecting pools from the Nasrid dynasty, as well as the fountains and orchards of the Generalife gardens. Welcome to the world of DJ Toner…

Ness Radio :  When & How did you decide to become a Dj ?

Toner :  Being a DJ was a natural process for me, it started when  I was a child. My first contact with music was when I recieved audio cassettes from bands like « Earth, Wind and Fire ». I was probably 10 years old when music already had all my attention, I am from a very modest family, when I was 14 I started playing music and recording my mixes on audio tapes. At the age of 16 I got my first job as a DJ in a nightclub and for me it was a great succes.  This new financial situation took me on a new direction and that’s where it all started for me. To this day,  I have been learning and getting to know music &  myself through constant inquisit, I think i can say that i feel that have been doing this my entire life.

Ness Radio : Do you consider Turntablism a unique style of music and why ?

Toner: When you have learned to manage the dance floor and psychologically master the situation to keep the dancefloor hot , this leverage helped  to increase my innate curiosity to feel  what should  happen next on my playlists. . It was at the beginning of the 90s when I discovered that some artists used as an instrument the Technics MK2 at DMC contests. Of course straight away I signed up for this, I then participated in some events at conventions, but it was later that I really assimilated the turntable as an instrument, manipulating time and rhythm, playing with beats, loops and creating new songs through the turntables. Since then it has It has been a constant evolution, then the greatest thing that happened for me , being another musician with the turnatables within a band and contributing new nuances that no other instrument can achieve, turntabllism is my passion !

Ness Radio : How do you start to compose new songs, do you start with beats first ?

Toner: I started studying at the music conservatory but it was boring for me, so I left it after a while. After many years warming up the floors at festivals and clubs, I felt the need to create my own music, the one I felt inside.  The best thing for me was to start as a beat maker, when connecting with musicians we created the group Domestic.  This band, also known as Domestic Jazz Collective was formed during the late 90s by me & jazz musicians. We took on an unusual and experimental fusion of live club sounds, jazz, hip hop and flamenco. This collaborative effort, led by myself , included renowned Spanish artists such as Enrique Morente and Jorge Pardo, and some international artists such as Erik Truffaz (trumpeter from Blue Note).With the philosophy of playing with a band what others did only with samples and records.. This was at the end of the 90s, a great flamenco master in Spain and a great artist called me to join his work and this definitely encouraged me to follow my own style, Enrique Morente had a major influence on me. Enrique Morente Cotelo, born in my home town Granada, 1942  was a legendary flamenco singer that won so many awards, controversial figure in contemporary flamenco. Working mixing flamenco with African music,  rock,  he got to collaborate with bands such as Sonic Youth.

Befored he passed away,  Enrique Moerente commissioned me to create a musical play inspired by the book Metamorphosis by the famous writer  Franz Kafka.  So very much like the book i decided  to first work alone with my inspiration, then we arrange the composition harmonically with Daniel Molina, Erik  Truffaz  then comes  to the studio and together we transform parts of the songs he feels needs to be adapted to his inspiration. It’s a long process that is it’s in own way a metamorphosis.   

Ness Radio : From your first beautifull track called ´Free’ on your debut album ‘Grandmaster jazz’ back in 2016 , it seems you are constantly searching. experimenting with your production ?

Exactly I go back and forth, sometimes I think that it would be easier to do what everyone is expecting , big hip hop beats and more danceable music, but I can’t resist moving forward on my path, every time I listen to my new album I feel that I have learned a new lesson that I am looking forward to putting that into practice.

Dj Toner ‘Free’ feat Nardy Castellini · Erik Truffaz · Francis Posé · Emilio Ricart

Ness Radio : In 2017 you released a 7 inch with Legendary singer MARTHA HIGH , How did you meet her ?

Toner: I have always been trying to follow artists like her, social networks connected us.  Martha High came to live in France, she is an inquisitive woman about everything,   I kept the conexion through social networks, at first I didn’t really know and realised who she was !  I didn’t really pay attention, she sent me her reviews but I was busy with other things, until one day I googled  her profile and I couldn’t believe who she was and the story behind her. 

I quickly wrote to her and proposed to work together on some productions , so she moved to the Costa del Sol in Spain to live a season and we were lucky enough to make some songs together. I feel blessed by this, everything came very naturally, one of the songs  ‘We are One’ was recorded in Madrid because she was playing with James Brown’s band at the time…

Editor’s note :

Born in Victoria, Virginia, Martha Harvin was a long time vocalist with James Brown who has toured with Lyn Collins, Vicki Anderson, and Marva Whitney as a member of the Original Funky Divas. She began her career in Washington, D.C. and attended the same High School as several other of the Soul fraternity including the Four Jewels and Margie Clarke. She was discovered by The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, at the age of 18 in the mid-1960s while singing with The Four Jewels at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York. They later become The Jewels after Mr. Brown invited them to join him on the road with the James Brown Revue. After the Four Jewels disbanded in the sixties, Martha Harvin was later renamed Martha High by Mr. Brown who also crowned her The Goddess of Soul. She performed with Mr. Brown for 32 years and has the distinction of having worked with him longer than any other singer.

Martha High – Think (About It) Live Jazz A Vienne with The JB’s

Ness Radio : How did you start collaboration with Daniel Molina ?

Toner: Working with a Jazz musician requires extensive knowledge of  harmony, I have some limitations in this field , which always makes more of an arranger, Daniel is an outstanding person,  he is a harmony teacher, musical anthropologist and piano tuner.  He lives in Granada and through a friend he told me that I should learn from  him, there was quick a magical connection betwen us  and he gave  me the confidence to launch myself. into this very particular fusion knowing that my work was in harmony and musically right.

Daniel Molina  is a person whose contribution is essential for the project, he undoubtedly adds a very important role , we  now have been researching for a year  in a documentation center  to collect  information about the Swinging Paris artists like Django Reinhardt from this era of the 1900.

Ness Radio : Can you tell us about Mimesis, an EP dedicated to various styles of Ganja ?

Toner: Hehehe, this is a small game, I have had some free time in the studio and I have dedicated to this, using really slow beats, outside of any commercial style, it is a reflection of how this natural substance can alter a state of consciousness and create . a perspective totally inspired by nature. the alteration of the normal state to which we are subjected in a society with a fast and consumerist life to reach a much more relaxed way of thinking and seeing the world. Mental plasticity can make us reach ways of thinking outside the stereotypes marked since childhood. for the educational system designed to create workers and not people with their own identity, it is my tribute to this even though now I do not encourage or use these substances anymore.

Ness Radio : Frameworks & BluRum ‘Bare’ (DJ Toner remix) sounds very different from what you usually do, Can you tell us about other remixes you have done ?

Toner: The rapper BluRUm 13 from Washington DC came to live in Spain looking to escape the senselessness that his country became. We met through my friend DJVadim. So we created Grupo Indigenous Invaders, we have some songs on the French label, Jarring effects, we did  some great gigs together. BluRum worked on that song and he asked me for a  remix with my own  personal style, I have never copied other artists, I always do what I feel that it is for the good of the creation , although this is not very popular in the music market.   BluRUm 13  moved to the coast of Granada to have two children and raise them here in a very relaxed environment, now he lives in Africa with his family,

Ness Radio :On your upcoming album there is that amazing track called ´Camina’ with Killer arrangements and magical Scratches, How was this song created ?

Toner: Well, all the songs are cooked over low heat (laughs) , this song came out with the bass as the main idea, when something emerges like that it is very natural, first it was created as a beat, and with several different harmonic chords,  I feel comfortable when it comes to beatmaking.  Daniel Molina put his special touch , and when Erik Truffaz  got home to record his trumpet part in the studio he suggested some arrangements, as usual that led to this magical moment, i am blessed to be working with such talented musicians , wonderfull things always come out with them.

Ness Radio : I can feel the love of John Coltrane in your music ?

Toner: John is very unique , you can feel in his music the freedom of being oneself without imitation, without fear. with the daring respond of wanting to be pure and sincere in his musical messages. He was such a legendarry musician and a genious,  I can only ask to have 1% of his talent and integrity, whoever judges my music as a listener already understands that there is a message in Jazz code.  it is already a great dose of energy for my daily life, the suffering and work to create my own style is what makes wakes up every morning, having the help of my partner and people like Lee Bright of Tangential Music  who understand me and helps me spread my message is a gift of life.  After a very difficult childhood with not much future,  I now feel lucky.

Ness Radio : What new projects are you working on ?

Toner:  I am now doing research on music before jazz, on modern music that came out of the Swinging Paris in the early 1900s . It was a times Spanish and French musicians that I admire worked together, we are studying their work, their scores and also the social moment that was very similar to the current one.  During the Universal Exhibition held in Paris from 5 May to 31 October 1889, Parisians discovered the cake walk and ragtime. These predecessors of jazz took over the café-concerts and fascinated learned composers. Young artists were inspired by swing: Mireille, Charles Trenet, Ray Ventura. Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and others created a typically Parisian form of jazz, mixing swing, musette and gypsy folklore.  We are going to record a new project , it will take time before we are ready to produce it , for each project I do require a minimum of two years of study and reflection.

Ness Radio : How did you meet Erik Truffaz and Jorge Pardo  ?

Toner: Erik and I met in a dressing room at a festival where we were both performing, the connection was quick, I admired his work, he didn’t know me, but he did live for a while in Granada, in 1970 here is a hippie camp in the mountains and He experimented here in his youth, his love for Granada is latent, just like mine, it is a magical city.

So everything was simple, I invited him to record and he accepted, now we are friends, companions in life, he is a guide and not only for music.


Jorge Pardo is an incredible musician and person, we have agreed to innovated and always serach for something new, he released an album called Dijinn and he called me after hearing me at DJ performance , since then we have been working together for the last 10 years.

La Fiesta (Chick Corea) feat. Jorge Pardo & Israel Suárez ‘Piraña’ Live

Ness Radio :  is there or was there a movement in SPAIN like the Beat Junkies ?

Toner: Yes, we have had Skratch Comando created by Dj Tillo , currently there is a great movement of younger artists like that, but in Spain these movements have always belonged to the very underground scene, although festivals like Sonar etc. have helped, the problem in Spain that we as Deejays suffer a lot from is that when a journalist reads or hears the word DJ, he doesn’t often respect our work , he doesn’t know the difference between a person who plays music as a selector and an artist.

Skratch Comando Crew live 2010

Editor’s note :

The first turntablism band to release a record in Spain, they are pioneers and a reference in this speciality with a spectacular live set of 5 turntables and 4 mixers. The group was founded in 1998, is formed by Dj Tillo (has worked with Arianna Puello, Tremendo, Macaco, 2inpar and currently Dj of Orishas), dj Marc now known as dj swing (has worked with 7 notas 7 colores), dj Dabeat and Merock, originally from Lloret de mar. With their first album, « Turntablist Invasión », released by Avoid Records in September 1999, the band was a great success and was very well received by both the public and the specialised national press, who considered them to be the best dj band of the moment, putting them on a par with even the best bands.

Dj Toner Q4rtet – OutSide



Released Tangential Music 3 May 2024 , Vinyl early June 2024 

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