PJ rejects the Jersey club and trap labels thrown around so casually – he just wants to make smart, slow, sexual beats. Treading a thin line between “club music and headphone music”, PromNite plays the Coconut Club tonight, Saturday, September 13.  ZOE KILBOURN reports.

“I used to play in a punk band when I was young,” says PJ. “It was all pretty shitty so I don’t think it directly affected my career, but it did open me up to a lot of different types of music. I just liked beats, really, and wanted to do it for fun as I still do till this day.”

His punk background may come as a surprise to PromNite appreciators – hip hop, definitely; psych rock, maybe; punk, no way – but there’s definitely more than a hint of an I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude in his work, outlook, and intensity. PJ’s a straight talker, and it’s clear he’s all about the music as he deflects unnecessary email probings (how do you like Australia?) with blithe “N/A”s.

“I think when you peel it back, PromNite aesthetically is very nostalgic, whereas the music I make has no reflection of that nostalgia,” he says. “Maybe the vibes sometimes are a bit slow and sexual, but I think there’s many different levels to the whole PromNite package. The name was sort of a joke between me and my homie Mike (Penthouse Penthouse).”

The Love Song For What EP showcases PJ’s beats at their most seductive and elusive. Unlike a lot of the mainstream trap stompers proliferating today, a PromNite track is more soundscape than banger – generous reverb, gentle timbre, washed-out horn samples.

“Love Song For What was just a compilation of ideas and thoughts I had at the time,” he says. “I wanted to ride that fine line between club and headphone music. I wanted to do something that was a bit personal that still had some edge to it. I really am proud of the reception that it got and the support and love it’s been showed.

“A lot of new music that comes out these days has the same tendencies as psychedelic music – it’s still very freeform and experimental. A lot of producing for me is finding tendencies in old music and fitting it with new vibes. I’ve always been a huge fan of saxophones and sounds that almost make you feel like you’re in a daze. I think I’ve just listened to a lot of different music to where when I sit down to do a track I think about all the other things I’m reminded of and find it and start there.”

PJ clearly eschews the simpler strains of contemporary hip hop. “Trap? I don’t know anymore,” he says. “A lot of trap is recognized as EDM trap with heavy synths and stuff, whereas I recognize trap as an idea, a fundamental that was never glamorized. I’m talking like Texas slab music or Atlanta real trap about people living that life. It’s slower and deeper. I will always love rap, hip-hop and anything that comes from it, but sometimes the festival trap stuff’s a bit overwhelming for me.”

PromNite was recently featured on Triple J’s Mix-Up exclusives. He even got a mid-mix shout-out from Alison Wonderland: “PromNite, fuck that guy,” she says (lovingly).

“Making radio mixes are always tough to some degree but you have to treat it more like a taste of what you’re into so other people can know what to expect,” he says. “Reading a crowd is key to a set, but it’s good to let people into your musical taste, without the bias of how others feel about a track. Alison [Wonderland]’s the homie, great gal.”

“Musically, I’m headed towards more original work with vocalists and rappers. At the moment I’m working on an EP. Stylistically, I’m heading more into more experimental trap vibes.” As for inspiration, “Athletixx and Team Supreme keep me pushing myself to be better and motivated.”