After transitioning from punk bands to synth pop, Jonathan Horstmann formed Urban Heat.

It’s not your typical 80’s synth pop, it’s music for now. And soon to be music for the future. The trio performed at our ART: Live! Issue 23 Celebration in February, and we can’t get enough.

For Issue 23, we interviewed lead singer Jonathan Horstmann to talk about how the music relates to the theme of ULTRA SUPER PLUS.

Photo credit: @iq3photography

Have you always been playing music?

My Dad had a rule about taking some instrument lesson. I picked up the guitar at 15 never looked back. I was singing and writing songs as soon as able to. I taught myself guitar by listening to alternative radio after my parent’s went to sleep. We were raised Christian Fundamentalist, so we could only listen to hymns and watch movies in black and white. I remembering hearing Sister Hazel on the radio and thinking it was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard. Then Nirvana came on. This was the beginning of the end of my trying to walk a straight and narrow path that was laid out for me.

How did Urban Heat start?

I wanted to do something solo after doing the band thing for a while. It’s great to collaborate but it’s also great to have a personal journey and let the song come into fruition. In 2019 I had been playing in punk band for 6 years, Blacksploitation, but after my daughter was born, I needed to find a way to make music in my headphones. I fell in love with synthesizers, and it all evolved from there.

I brought my music to friends and immediately they were like, “you’re not doing this on your own.” So I write and record, co-produce and have a band for live instrumentation.

How is your music unique?

I grew up with rock n’ roll, then got into punk. My formative years didn’t have a lot of synth pop, so I’m discovering it all now as an adult and trying to figure out how they made a lot of these awesome sounds.

By not having a concrete form of reference it allows us to interpret it through my unique lens. I don’t think like we sound that we’re from the ’80s, I still think we sound like we’re from now. I want to sound like we’re from the future.

It’s bold putting your art out there, where does your motivation come from? Is it the cathartic nature of creating?

Sensation is in the same family as nervousness but it’s something different. It’s like you’re walking around in black and white and you’re about to go full color. You’re excited but it’s transformative. I have this thing about having to do things that scare me. I hate it so much but I have to do it. I have to because I don’t want to. I’m trying to lead by example for my daughter.

What are you hoping people take away from your visual art? Does it relate to your music?

I’m a gemini. If I get burnt out on something I’m able to transition to clear my head. It’s the opposite side of the same coin. Intentionally I paint as abstract as possible, to let the feeling go. But really as a creator, everything you make is a part of the same story.

Free at Last

When it comes to my paintings I prefer to go abstract, creating form out of nothing. We live in a cultural feedback loop, everything is a sequel of a sequel, and sometimes it feels cathartic to try and create something new.

The stark contrast present between black and white in my current series is meant to represent the historical physical and resulting cultural segregation in my city. Each piece is named for a Negro spiritual. All pieces are acrylic with gold leaf, holographic contact paper, and resin.

What music can we look forward to in 2022?

Our first single, “City Lights” came out earlier this year. In Fall, I plan to drop a six track EP.

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