With devilish good looks akin to, say, Justin Bieber and Drake, you’d think Aussie DJ duo Bonka would be more at home lip-synching in front of the camera rather than spinning tunes behind the decks.
Suffice to say, Connor O’Neill and Lachlan Norton – aka Bonka – are killing it locally and internationally, gaining kudos from the likes of David Guetta and Laidback Luke, and currently preparing for their first official world tour.
Karen Bilsby chats to one half, Lachlan Norton. He’s the one that looks less Bieber, more Drake, on the right.
Congratulations on your new release ‘Focus’ featuring Bianca. How long was it in the making and what was your inspiration?
Focus was about eight months in the making. The instrumental was written in October 2018 following our last record Be Alive with Luciana. We knew we wanted to head in a similar direction in terms of a top-line, so we searched for a vocalist and found Bianca.
Do you think featuring female vocalists in your productions may become part of your signature style?
It’s certainly starting to look that way, however we don’t set out with the sole intention of having a female vocalist. We’ve put out records with male vocalists as well. We have no locked in plans or ideas really. We decide when the time is right, based on the records we write.
To anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few years, how would you describe your style?
Our style is based around fun and energy. The way we play and perform as entertainers is solely for the audience. This naturally has crept into the way we produce our music, whether it be our choice of top-lines, the structure of instrumentals, or sounds and samples we incorporate. It’s all to ensure the listener has a great experience.
Celebrities can decide to become DJs and automatically get booked at the biggest festivals without really ‘earning’ those opportunities.
As artists, are you and Connor very self-critical of what you create?
We’re definitely self-critical. Not to a level that is detrimental, but we pride ourselves in producing quality, and progressing each time we ‘make a move’ in the industry, so to speak.
Since Bonka was officially formed in 2014, have you noticed changes in the EDM and dance music scene over the years?
The scene has changed tremendously in the short time we’ve been in it. Take social media, for example – a person can become famous overnight from a single viral video. Celebrities can decide to become DJs and automatically get booked at the biggest festivals without really ‘earning’ those opportunities.
You’re certainly becoming well-known and respected globally with your music gaining support from major players around the world like David Guetta, Timmy Trumpet, Morgan Page, Bingo Players and Laidback Luke himself. That must be a great feeling!
It is such a great feeling and incredibly humbling! Just to think they would listen to our songs and play them is amazing. It’s surreal, and it motivates us to keep improving.
So, what has been your favourite/craziest gig to date?
Our favourite gig to date would have to be the Eatons Hill NYD Festival 2019. It was the biggest crowd we’ve played to and the energy was amazing.
What would be your ultimate gig or who would be an artist you’d like to perform at/collaborate with?
That’s a tough one. We would love to play in Europe at a festival like Tomorrowland and to work with some of the industry heavyweights such as Afrojack or Hardwell.
We joke about remaking ‘Bonkers’ with Dizzee Rascal and, who knows, one day we might just get that opportunity.
You’re about to announce a world tour – is it your first and where are you going?
We’ve announced the Australian leg with around 22 shows over the next three months. After that we’re planning on announcing our overseas shows, but for the moment we’re keeping them secret.
Finally, how does Dizzee Rascal feel about the connection between his epic track ‘Bonkers’ and your choice of stage name?
Well, that’s a conversation we have always wanted to have. We joke about remaking that song with him and, who knows, one day we might just get that opportunity. However, for the moment it’s just a play on words… and a dream!
Bonka: 2019 Tour Dates
MAY 24 CANDYS TAKEOVER, CLARENDON TAVERN, CLARENDON
MAY 31 EATONS HILL HOTEL, BRISBANE
JUNE 1 MINISTRY OF SOUND CLUB, SYDNEY
JUNE 8 XS, CAIRNS
JUNE 14 SANDSTONE POINT HOTEL, SANDSTONE POINT
JUNE 15 IPSWICH CUP INFIELD FESTIVAL, IPSWICH
JUNE 15 CRITERION HOTEL, MARYBOROUGH
JUNE 22 FLNDRS, TOWNSVILLE
JUNE 29 CARTEL, MACKAY
JULY 6 HQ COMPLEX, ADELAIDE
JULY 27 KING ST, NEWCASTLE
AUGUST 14 MEKKA RACES, BRISBANE
AUGUST 16 EATONS HILL HOTEL, BRISBANE
AUGUST 17 RIVAZ, RENMARK