When going out and networking is part of your job, your bound to meet tons of interesting people. One place that really took me by surprise was Goldbar. I noticed that Sunday nights, after all the football and dinner, I would find myself going there. The more time I spent there the more my interested grew in the people that ran the show behind the scenes. At that time, the only person I was introduced to was DJ Sinatra, who’s currently a resident there every week.
After spending a few weekends (and paychecks) at Goldbar, there was always one name that I kept hearing, Jon Lennon. I asked around and was told that he’s the guy’s that started Sundays. I reached out to him, and asked if he would be interested in a interview. To my surprise he was down for it. Goldbar’s Sunday FUNDAY might have reached great success, became the biggest Sunday party in NYC and has helped launch the careers of some of the best DJ’s in the club game now. But for Jon it is only one of a million things he is working on. Luckily I was able to get in touch with him and get a nice Q and A for you guys and here it is so read and enjoy.
(From the left) Jon Lennon and Dj Sinatra
Q) Born in Queens’s music in your blood, just like any other the pursuit for the dream starts at an early age, how do you remember the beginning?
A) I remember my dad’s record collection, hip-hop starting to be played on the radio, break-dancing, and graffiti. The cars used to play music so loud in the inner city driving by. I was fascinated with nightlife, Dj’s, and rock n roll music. I used to practice singing over Dion and The Beatles, rhyming over run DMC and beastie boy tracks. I wanted to be a rapper, a rock star, or a Dj.
Q) Did you have a mentor or a person you looked up to while growing up?
A) I looked up to the street guys and Dj’s in my neighborhood. They had the cars, girls, money, and power. I was lucky enough to have several mentors. I had the privilege of recording and touring with Joan Jett and her manager Kenny Laguna who I consider family. I also worked for super agent Johnny Podel at ICM music. Also was mentored in nightlife by Mark Baker who gave me my first nightlife job. I consider them all mentors and without them I would be nothing. All of these people took the time to teach and share with me their experience.
Q) What did music do for you in your life?
A) – Music has always been a part of my life. My whole business and creative life revolve around it. It has given me a channel for my energies and creativity. It gave me a way out of my neighborhood, a reason to keep working hard, and an escape from a traditional lifestyle.
Q) In your early years, do you have a memory of that one big break through that got you up and rolling?
A) I remember around age 12 I booked a Dj gig out in Green point, Brooklyn. That was 1988. My father drove me and a few friends out there and I remember how impressed the crowd was when I started spinning. I remember thinking I will do this for the rest of my life. Leaving Queens and going to Brooklyn was as far a gig as going to Vegas for me back then. It opened a whole other world.
Q) Tell me a little about that project. How was it for you finally seeing your plans come to life?
A)- Each project makes progress each day. I try to enjoy and appreciate every step of the journey. It feels amazing to know that so much has come from simple little ideas and moments. I saw these moments as a child dreaming and have gotten to live many of my dreams.
Q) Aside from management and other projects, what goals did you set for your self as a musician and Dj?
A)- I have many long and short-term goals. My priories are piece of mind, integrity in work, creativity, and a strong foundation. I have many plans for 4AM short term and long term. I will continue performing, producing and DJ’ing. I will also stay producing events and parties. I currently own Liberty Records and am working with all sorts of musicians, beat makers and other artists.
Q) Tell us a little about your band Lufthansa heist, and what success you guys have come to achieve?
A – Lufthansa Heist has had much success. I have opened for Joan Jett, The New York Dolls and Wu-Tang Clan. My idea of success as a kid was to play CBGB or Continental. All things I’ve done, never dreaming I would be opening for such greats. We have played John Varvatos on Bowery and many other NYC events, venues and parties. The plan is to take it as far as it can go.
Q) At what point in your career did you begin your chapter as a NYC promoter?
A) – I was always in and out or promoting since I was 15 handing out flyers for teen nights at The Ritz. It got more serious when I started working full time for nightlife legend Mark Baker about 13 yrs ago in 1997. That’s when I was introduced to all the players.
Q) This brings us to arguably your greatest creation, Goldbar’s Sunday FUNDAY, how was the idea for this place born, what was your involvement in it?
A) – Goldbar is the dream child of Jamie Mulholland, Jayma Cardosa, and Robert McKinley. I was hired after the first couple of months to start the Sunday FUNDAY party. I pitched Jamie on the idea and he liked it. I needed a night to help build the career of an unknown DJ at the time, DJ Jesse Marco. I saw a void in New York nightlife on Sunday nights for a music focused/DJ driven night.
Jon Lennon at Goldbar
Q) Who were some of the people that worked with you on this project and what did they bring to the table? What were some of the biggest challenges you guys came across?
A) In the beginning it was only Jesse and I working on FUNDAY. After a couple of months I wanted to bring in DJ Sinatra to help balance the music out.
Q) Music is probably the most important ingredient to any club and you have Dj Sinatra and Jesse Marco as the residents, what made you believe they were the guys for the job?
A) – Sinatra and Jesse turned out to be a powerful team. We also started doing guest DJ sets. At this point we have had everyone guest spin at FUNDAY– Dj Cassidy, Tiesto, Funk Master Flex, Stretch Armstrong, Steve Aoki, afro-jack and MGMT and list goes on. I have been able to take this party International to Cannes, Sundance, etc. We have also had a lot of Deckstar DJ’s get names in New York off of the FUNDAY party.
The biggest challenge we have all faced is the enormity of personalities and egos that we deal with all day organizing FUNDAY parties and events. Sinatra and Jesse have been perfect because no matter what happens at the end of the day we all stay loyal to FUNDAY. It has been essential in influencing all of our careers, the formation of 4AM, and the way parties are now modeled in general.
Q) Sinatra and Jesse are also a part of 4AM Dj’s which you are a part owner of along with Adam Alpert. What was the inspiration behind building this powerhouse DJ label?
A) – Jus Ske and Adam were trying to start an agency for some time. I was the NY guy for Deckstar LA at the time. We were spending so much energy booking DJ’s at all our parties and clubs that we decided to filter everything through our own agency. We were making big names for DJ’s anyway so we figured we might as well organize and make it official.
Q) How did you guys end up with the roster you have now, what was the process of choosing the DJ’s?
A) – Our roster is a conglomeration of New York City’s best. We each picked our couple favorites and signed them up. We have developed and developing talent. We wanted guys who could do events, parties, clubs, etc. We wanted to cover the full spectrum of the business. We also wanted to help our friends who were DJ’s without agencies.
Q) What does 4AM offer to their DJ’s aside from gigs in the present time?
A) – 4AM offers access and exposure. 4AM is affiliated with the best clubs in New York, LA, Miami, and Vegas such as Goldbar, 10ak, Lavo, etc. We have access to the international market, press, and have been successful in increasing the income of all of our artists.
Q) To a DJ reading this who is in dreams of one day being on that level, what does it take for you to even conceder adding a DJ to your roster?
A) – The one thing I recognize most when looking at a DJ is work ethic, dedication, and talent. I would expect a DJ to practice 4-5 hrs a day before work, always be on time and professional, and have a vast knowledge of music in general.
Q) 4Am has been a dominant force in NYC nightlife and has formed somewhat of a monopoly in the NYC/MIA area, but what are the plans you have for the future? Do you guys plan on going global?
A) – We are global already. We book in France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and many other places. I have booked gigs in Turkey, UAE and Morocco, as well as most of the 50 states. The plans for expansion have more to do with expanding into live music and live club acts. Turning into a full service music and art agency.
Through all the years in business name one thing that has changed dramatically followed by something that had managed to stay the same?
One thing that has changed is I used to be able to collect in cash. Something that hasn’t changed is it’s still no fun collecting.
If you had a time machine and a chance to travel anywhere in time where would you go?
If I had a time machine I would go back to the 50’s and head to Arthur Ave in The Bronx and join a Doo-Wop group with Dion.
Three favorite places to eat in NYC?
My favorite places to eat in NYC are Supper, Don Pepe, Ed’s Lobster, and Blue Ribbon Brooklyn for Sushi.
If you had to choose a theme song for your self what would it be?
If I had to choose a theme song for my self it would be The Wanderer by Dion and The Belmonts
Two random things that most people would have never guessed about you?
I live in a firehouse and I once owned a duck as a pet.
When you are not working you are?
I’m always working. I manage to workout and play with my dog a lot too.