Jonny Lennon doesn’t fuck around — between being a partner at Goldbar and an owner of both Liberty Records and 4AM, Jonny is also managing NYC’s best talent and throwing parties like the venerable FUNDAY which has been going strong since 2008. Born and raised in Ozone Park, Queens, Lennon’s no-bullshit attitude has made him notorious — whether you’ve encountered him at the door at Goldbar or elsewhere. Knowing Jonny personally, I’ve gotten a glimpse past the hard exterior and I can proudly say that he’s as real as they come. If Jonny doesn’t like you, forget it… BUT if he does, he would give you the shirt of his back, no questions asked. There are a lot of sketchy people in the world of nightlife, and Jonny Lennon is not one of them.
Anyway, tonight marks the third installment of ROCK FREAK, Jonny’s monthly party with Questlove of the Roots and DJ Cassidy. I had a chance to sit down and finally do a formal interview where we chatted about [....]
As a partner at Goldbar, the owner of Liberty Records, and an owner at 4AM, you’ve been extremely instrumental in “making” people’s careers. What do you look for in an aspiring DJ, musician, or party thrower?
I look for work ethic, natural talent and desire, and an ability to learn and grow. You have to be really dedicated and want to be in this business. There are so many elements and details to each of those jobs.
Goldbar FUNDAY is one of the most successful weekly parties the game. How do you new keep it new and fresh week after week?
There are many elements to FUNDAY that keep it new and fresh. We have guest DJ’s every week from all over the world. We do parties internationally and are constantly reaching new people. It was started with the intention of being fun. We let people be themselves. We provide a diversity of music, a diverse environment, and over the years we have become a family.
Tons of festivals these days have music and nightlife elements, from Coachella to Art Basel, How do you chose which ones to be a part of?
I love having a presence at all of these different events. I work in some capacity at most whether it is one of my DJ’s or one of my parties. I just celebrated 4am’s 1year anniversary in Miami at Soho House for Winter Music Conference, brought FUNDAY to Tao for The Sundance Film Festival, and started a huge monthly party with DJ Cassidy and Quest Love at Good Units.
Sundance was amazing, can we expect to see you guys back in Cannes this year?
Absolutely. I am just waiting on some of my friend’s films to get accepted and scheduled so we can start planning. Last year I did a few parties. I hosted FUNDAY with Jalouse and I Blame Coco (Sting’s daughters band). I also hosted a party on a friends yacht with the FUNDAY crew Jesse Marco, DJ Sinatra and Kirill.
So Rock Freak is coming up, how did you get involved with Cassidy and Questlove Tell us a little about the project…
Cassidy and I have been involved in each other’s careers for a long time. Cassidy approached me with the opportunity to work with him and Quest and there was no way to pass that up. We have all been on a mission to find the right room, music, and team for an amazing party and we believed that we were that team and Good Units was that room.
You’re normally a downtown guy, what made you chose to Good Units as the venue?
Downtown guy is more a way of life. It doesn’t mean I’m opposed to being uptown. Robert McKinley who designed Goldbar was was also responsible for designing Good Units. Alex Ancheta and Sal Imposimato from Morgans Hotel group are long time associates and friends and the synergy of the space with this team made sense. It’s just a great room for a party.
You’re in a band too, right? I have yet to see Lufthansa Heist play. Do you have any upcoming gigs? What kind of music do you guys play?
I am a musician and I have played with many bands. I have been working hard expanding my musical knowledge and style. Lately I have been writing more than playing out – experimenting with different Musicians, DJ’s, and Producers.
So between Goldbar, your band, and Rock Freak, you seem to be in to, and curate, all different kinds of music. Whats currently playing on your iPod?
I just went running listening to Operation Ivy.
Besides Goldbar, what are some of your favorite spots to hang out?
I don’t go out much when I’m not working but the last couple of times I went out I hit Boom Boom, XIX, Mr. H, Mulberry Project, and Kenmare. Maybe I do go out?
There are a lot of new spots coming in to Little Italy/ NoLita…do you welcome the new additions?
I absolutely do. Goldbar was one of the first of the new wave of nightlife downtown. It has been amazing watching places open and grow. It’s a very competitive yet cooperative neighborhood.
You live in Greenpoint, do you ever go out in Brooklyn? Any recs on where to go in GP?
I go out for coffee, bloody marys, and dinner in Greenpoint. I don’t go out too much here for nightlife but if I did I would go check out LuLu’s by my house for live music. I eat at Five Leaves all the time.
Summer is coming up… you dont really strike me as a Hamptons guy… what are your plans for the summer? what are you most looking forward to?
I book DJ’s in the Hamptons all summer long but I don’t make it out there too much. If I do I go out to chill..
Good Units: 356 W58th St