Joni Void is the musical persona of Montreal-based French/British producer Jean Cousin – previously known in the Soundcloud, Bandcamp and other online communities as johnny_ripper.
A self-taught musician making tracks since he was 14 years old and living in Lille, France, Cousin moved to Montréal in 2012 to pursue Film Studies. He plunged into the city’s fertile DIY/loft scene and in a spirited transformation, evolved from cloistered bedroom/virtual persona to highly engaged organizer and performer. As the shift towards the live environment led to a multitude of collaborations and improvised performances, Cousin found himself abandoning instrumental composition entirely and making a conscious move towards montage-based sound, and the Joni Void persona coalesced around a singular and compelling style incorporating elements of ambient/drone, minimalism, rap and hip-hop beats, psychedelia, glitch, and musique concrête with influences from the experimental film world.
Cousin has self-released a cavalcade of original albums and remixes since 2011. Selfless was his debut release on a record label, and garnered praise (including a spot on Pitchfork's list of Best Experimental Albums of 2017), for its textured layering of found sounds and its genre-spanning, exploratory spirit. His second, Mise En Abyme, releases in March 2019, and displays Cousin's finely-honed ability to fuse disparate elements and moods: the digital and organic, archaic devices and forward-thinking technologies, claustrophobic isolation and human warmth.
Cousin’s earliest records, made when he was a teenager, combine piano and field recordings while drawing inspiration from piano-based film soundtracks such as Jon Brion’s work for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Michael Andrews's score for Donnie Darko, and Philip Glass's film compositions as well as the sample worlds of artists like Boards Of Canada, The Books, Four Tet and Burial. His efforts situated him within a compelling network to bedroom artists and DIY producers with analogous lo-fi production and song-making intuition who espoused the ethos of self-release, sharing/interacting directly and personally through the internet. An increasing obsession with micro-sampling, aleatory composition, history of cinema and the techniques of foley and film sound editing – along with an expansively active practice of remixing and beat-making – has seen Cousin’s music flourish in fascinating ways. Perhaps most importantly, Cousin now constructs his tracks entirely from found sources and aims not to ‘play’ anything at all. His personal hero Delia Derbyshire (White Noise; the early years of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) along with fellow sonic pioneers Erik Satie, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Susumu Yokota cemented his commitment to making musique concrète avant-pop, albeit now utilizing today’s more accessible digital tools.
Outside of his own recorded work, Cousin keeps busy with the digital creative platform Everyday Ago. The site, freshly re-launched in 2019, serves as a collaborative extension of Cousin’s work as Joni Void and highlights events, content, and other musical efforts of friends and collaborators from Montréal and beyond.