Jon Pegnato has carried on by his DJ moniker Hot Mouth since he left the electro duo LA Riots almost a year and a half ago. But really, the project started about five years prior, before the LA native joined powerhouse EDM duo LA Riots and became the whirlwind success that he never saw coming.
Eager to continue his career as his own solo act and get back to the dream he originally created, Pegnato has been busy in the studio focusing on his own original productions and finding time to have fun as a touring DJ. Coming straight from his four gigs and 10 days of heavy partying at WMC, Pegnato is showcasing his skills as a taste-maker and all around hilarious dude at the Yost Theater in downtown Santa Ana for White Rabbit's "Havoc Thursdays." We got a chance to speak to Pegnato as he walked around his LA neighborhood and talked our ears off about his wild days as a kid, how he came up with Hot Mouth and where his music is headed.
Pegnato has been making music and deejaying for almost 15 years, getting his start spinning techno and house. It wasn't until he joined LA Riots in late 2009 that he began working with some major names–from Lady Gaga to Tiësto–remixing and producing songs while playing gigs all over the world. This also gave him the opportunity to play some of the biggest festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival and Lollapalooza. So why leave a mega-successful act after only three years? "I never completed my vision with what I wanted to do with Hot Mouth," says Pegnato. "I wanted to fulfill my dream of being a solo act again." Not to mention he loves the opportunity to do everything on his own terms and not take himself too seriously. "Things were way to serious, robotic and overly structured. I was like meh I just want to have fun," he says.
At the time that Pegnato created Hot Mouth, "everyone had serious DJ names and weird, model press shots," he says. Wanting to create something fun which initially started off as a joke, Hot Mouth came about and his DJ friends eventually encouraged him to keep it–even if his grandmother thinks his DJ name is Foul Mouth. Fitting for someone who was burping and talking about farting our entire interview.
He gets nostalgic when mentioning the old days when you literally had to make music on vinyl, spend thousands of dollars to make a record and hope to re-coup your money. "Everyone thinks Beatport is a pain to deal with today, but I think those days were more of a pain." Regardless, he managed to have several Beatport top 10 hits at a time when the music was very different.
"Songs now are created for a broader audience and for something to go to the top 10 or even 100 it has to appeal to a lot more people," he says. "Five years ago it was still a niche market and you could be a lot weirder and crazy with your productions because there was less people buying music. I guess it's bittersweet, but it has shaped what the music sounds like today." The way he sees it, most current EDM sounds like an amalgam of the same song. Yet this also leaves room for creativity like on his current single "Keep On" which he collaborated with Bass Kleph. Trying to find the balance with a broader mainstream audience, this house banger has the funky tech sound which is signature to the Hot Mouth name and though it may have the same sounds and wavelengths as other productions it still has his electro spin on things. "I listen to how one person does a kick or a layout and then put all the furniture in the room and arrange it the way I want to be sitting in it if that makes any sense," he says.
Doing things Jon's way is what you can expect from his show tonight at the Yost Theater. Though OC feels like a second home, he has a plethora of good and bad memories from his days behind the Orange Curtain, including everything from surfing in HB as a kid to a stint in jail after being arrested after being caught with a pill of ecstasy on his way to Disneyland. Yet he is excited for his Yost Theater debut where he will be playing an "ass ton of new music," he says. That includes his new collab with Robbie Rivera titled "Dog vs. Cat" (Rivera has a dog and Pegnato has cats) and a just finished track with Moguai which he titled "Chills" after the German producer kept telling everyone the song gave him "chills" in his unique accent. As long as he plays the funky house tunes he does on his "Totally Worth It Podcast" and at all of the WMC pool parties in Miami then we think it's worth checking out for a refreshing take on the same club sounds you hear week after week.