MOOMBAH-WEEK: Introducing DJ/producer Jon Kwest

by Marcus K. Dowling

This is a tale of reckless American punk club music with international influences. Less than 1000 days old, moombahton’s rise is a stunning tale of Dave Nada’s invention blending with technology, a perfect example of evolution and diversity, a now global sound that’s everything and nothing at the same time. “Past present future music,” it invokes cumbia, dancehall, house, disco, hip hop, dubstep, soul, rock, punk, and so much more. With the nascent genre’s only hard and fast rule being that the pace cannot leave over 108-112 BPM, it’s the height of controlled anarchy, an underground movement turning hip partiers into a sensual minded two-stepping army. It’s peace, love, unity and respect remixed, a brand new thing for a brand new dance music generation.

Jon Kwest

No Love Ft. on Heartbreak’s “Moombahsoul Vol 3″ by Jon Kwest

Moombahton needed an honest man, and suddenly appeared Jon Kwest. Dance music is so emotional that it’s often gets distracted from hitting the mainstream at the core. Passion needs truth, and the Baltimore native who has called Philly and now DC home is a heavy hitter not just in the club, but in real talk as well. Regarding his interest in the sound, Kwest was candid as usual: “The tempo is what primarily drove me to moombahton. It was new, not just a half time snare over an existing genre. It doesn’t mix tempo-wise with any other type of music so you have to really want to play it to play it. I like the fact that there was pretty much every style of music represented. It wasn’t all just noisy and hard, like it seems every new genre goes all too quickly. I had been messing with mid-tempo type tunes for the last few years, but basically never had the balls or standing to really pursue it like Nada did. Dude definitely went about it the right way.”

Skin Up – A Juicy Red Apple by Jon Kwest

Kwest is arguably every moombahton producer’s favorite moombahton producer. A quiet lurker in the scenes of various styles through the years, moombahton “motivated (Kwest) to push (himself).” His style is direct, not an ambitious inventor like Munchi, not a heavily Latin inspired soul groover like Sabo, or brashly spiritual like David Heartbreak. His sound merely meets the expectation of what other genres should sound like when meeting the concept of what moombahton’s roots inspire. Kwest’s work in Heartbreak’s moombahsoul variant challenge the top tier work of the offshoot’s inventor, but when questioned regarding the dominance of his work, Kwest made his intensely complex and exciting work seem like just another day in the studio. “All moombahsoul is is really couples skating music from the 70s or some of the really emotional R & B slowed down and chopped up. I’m glad people appreciate what I’m doing, but it’s simple to get the inspiration but really involved to execute properly.”

Jungle Brothers Tribute – Sabo & Jon Kwest by Jon Kwest

The Baltimore native’s contributions to the genre have continued with two masterfully curated compilations, his Dust Mask Compilation which examined the UK hardcore scene of the early 90s through moombahton, and the Moombah Marauders comp, where alongside a plethora of top producers, he explored legendary tracks by hip hop’s Native Tongue family as re-imagined through a bass heavy interpretation.

Again, when it comes to Kwest, he represents the goals of all who currently dominate the groundbreaking genre. If needing a mainstreamed variation of the following, think of Aubrey Graham telling you to “do right and kill everything.” If wanting more real talk from Quest, here’s the following: “Do you 100%. If you half ass your ideas to make dim wits happy, you should just throw in the towel and quit muddying up the craft. Just as important, though – be humble, be polite and give credit where credit is due, but nothing of value ever comes from ass-kissing or dick-riding.”


Moombahton Pt 1

Moombahton Pt 2

Moombahton Pt 3

A special thanks to Casey Embert’s for use of Kwest interview quotes.