Colombia remastered: the music of Jhon Montoya

“Iwa” live in Florence

Michelle Davis
March 15, 2017 - 15:31

Jhon Montoya was born at the foothills of the Andes. His passion for music goes way back: driven by an undying love for great composers such as Bach and Vivaldi, he got his start studying the violin, playing in symphonic orchestras and also mastering both guitar and piano. 


He's been living in Italy since 2001, slowly gathering his bearings as a musician and performer. To stay afloat, in the past he has also worked as a house painter and Blockbuster clerk - experiences that have been nonetheless fundamental in his creative growth. It was here in Italy that he first started experimenting with electronic music, also collaborating with Gruppo Benetton's communication research centre Fabrica, who also produced his first two solo albums.


Jhon Montoya's sound is the result of a life dedicated to deep listening, a melting pot of styles and traditions from all over the world has seeped into all of his tunes. Don't miss him live on Saturday 18th at BUH, Florence's new hip urban cultural hub located Florence's peripheral Rifredi neighbourhood, where he will be presenting his latest 12-track album "Iwa" (released in 2016 on Italian record label White Forest).


Jhon Montoya, in flesh and color Jhon Montoya, in flesh and color


Michelle Davis: From Colombia to Italy… tell us a bit about this adventure and how Italy has impacted you (and your music).

Jhon Montoya: I arrived in Italy when I was 20. After a break, I began considering the idea of taking up my violin studies again and I was very lucky to find the right people along my path, so I must say that everything went (and is still going) quite smoothly. Italian music is quite contagious, it eventually catches on to you: how can you not want to discover the great contemporary composers like Morricone, Bacalov, Rota all the way up to Moroder, de Andrè and Battisti?



MD: From Bach to Blockbuster, give us the lowdown on everything that has inspired “IWA", your latest album.

JM: When I started working for Blockbuster, I met all the people who would later become an important part of my life. Even though it was just a simple rental shop, it was the right place at the right time and it gave me the possibility to nurture my creativity through personal experiences , love, friendship, failures and disappointment. Both my albums, "Mohs" and "Iwa" were born out of these feelings and life events.



MD: Tell us a bit about your collaboration with White Forest Records and Gruppo Benetton’s Fabrica - what do you think of the Italian creative scene & system? Are there any musicians/producers or artists that you particularly enjoy and would like to collaborate with?

JM: With White forest it was quite simple: it all started with an e-mail I sent them to which they replied with great enthusiasm and, what amazed me the most, respect from the very get-go. I still think that I'm very lucky to work with a label like White Forest, that has done many things but still has a lot of space and time to grow.

Fabrica offered me the amazing opportunity to create and have time to venture into the world of musical experimentation. It is truly a one-of-a-kind place Italy.



The cover of Jhon Montoya's "Iwa" (deluxe edition) The cover of "Iwa" (deluxe edition)



MD: On Facebook you define your genre as “Tierra Folk”, which I think sounds kind of nostalgic… would you care to explain it?

JM: Whenever I go back to Colombia, I focus on the little things, the smell of the earth when it rains, being surrounded by nature. I want to re-create all of this with my music - a feeling, a memory. I think that if I had to go back to the start, to choose a country to live in here in Europe, I would undoubtedly end up choosing Italy. I know its faults but I also love the lifestyle, the climate, the diversity of landscapes and especially the people. Sure, I do miss Colombia's eternal summer and my family but I'm lucky to have two lands and love them equally



MD: Bandeja Paisa or Lasagne? Are Italy and Colombia that different?

JM: Difficult choice indeed! I like lasagna, pasta, tomato and olive oil but bandeja paisa is truly a sigh to behold! I find several things in common between our countries, for better or for worse: the people, the food (Italy wins in this department, I must say!)... however, the complex bureaucracy, a certain political corruption and sometimes the mentality are what I would like to see a bit less of.



MD: Tell us a bit about the special event that will take place at BUH on March 18th.

JM: Florence is a magical city, a bit like Venice. Every location demands for its own, unique approach so my live set will be unpredictable: I want to enjoy myself and make sure that everyone has fun!


For more information visit BUH!'s website

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