DJ-producer Lee Jones is a trendsetter in many ways. He was one of the first Brits of his generation to migrate to Berlin and join that city's burgeoning EDM community in early 2000s. He was also playing deep melodic cuts long before deep house became the international standard. In fact, he was producing straight up trip-hop and acid jazz as Hefner.
But as MyMy, a threesome with producers Nicolas Höppner and Carsten Klemann, Jones set the precedent for a soul revival in the underground house and techno scene. Their infamous parties at Berlin's club Watergate a self-described "sanctuary for those escaping the relentless loop of dark, unsoulful minimal techno."
Jones will be hitting the Electric Pickle this Friday for a Cityfox label showcase with Mark Henning, Gregorythme and PL0T, and Crossfade caught up with him to talk shop.
Crossfade: How did you first get drawn to electronic music and when did you start producing?
Lee Jones: I've been producing and releasing electronic music of some sort since I was at University around 1995, first using an Atari running Cubase and an Akai sampler -- although we can forget about the first few efforts! The first Hefner vinyl was in 1997. But I didn't produce anything like house or techno until after I moved to Berlin in 2002.
What prompted your move to Berlin and how has living there shaped you artistically?
I was in love with the city, and a girl. Living there allowed me to relax and take my time learning, absorbing, thinking, enjoying life. Also, it's allowed me to really learn to DJ from playing over and over in every conceivable situation.
How did the MyMy collaboration first come about and what differentiates the project from your solo work?
MyMy came about by friends hanging out, listening to music and DJing together. Nick and Carsten really gave me an education in club music when I arrived in Berlin. I produced much of the output alone but it was inspired by a collective feeling, and still is in a way. There's no real difference from my solo work. "Yoyo" could be a MyMy track. "Fast Freeze" could be a Lee Jones track.
And what's the status of MyMy these days? Any forthcoming new work?
We've put MyMy on the shelf at the moment because we never had time to hang out and share ideas and influences. It made more sense to do solo projects. Nick works full time running Ostgut Ton now, and Carsten lives in London.
What is your typical creative process in the studio and how has your M.O. changed over the years and across different projects?
I still don't really have a process to making music, and when it works, I can't usually explain how and why. I just try everything until two or more elements start working together and suggest something special. Sampling usually plays a big part, as it has since I started making music. I'm still making some kind of hip hop in a way. It's still all based on samples, breaks from jazz and funk records, forward and reversed scratching type noises.
If your diverse body of work is anything to go by, your musical tastes must be all over the place. Which artists or sounds do you consider your main influences or inspirations?
I've been influenced by all the good music I've heard in my life -- could be Mozart, Miles, Mitchell or Morrissey.
What can you tell us about your new live music project Abraham with vocalist Rachel Cuming?
I'm very happy to say that after 9 years I've finally been able to return to a songwriting project and Rachel and I have written a new album's worth of songs. We're currently recording and it's sounding fantastic. Some of the most beautiful music I've been involved in making.
And what's the status of your Hefner project? Will there be more output?
I hope so. It's hard to say what exactly Hefner means now. If I made some music which sounded like a continuation of those ideas then I'd release it under that name again. In a way, the Abraham project has become the continuation of Hefner. MyMy, Lee Jones, Hefner, Abraham... it all has my stamp on it I hope.
What does the future have in store for Lee Jones? Do you see yourself staying in the EDM game much longer or do you see other musical or creative avenues ahead of you?
I think i'll always be seduced by clubs and the feeling of performing in that environment, with the energy of the crowd and the extremity of the sound. I also like to work on music with different contexts in mind, like film music, or songs that works on a tiny radio in the kitchen, or conceptual music that belongs in an art gallery. But at heart, as one of the villains in the Miami Vice movie says, "I'm a disco guy."
What can Miami expect during your upcoming performance with Cityfox at the Electric Pickle?
It's about finding a way to trigger an intellectual and emotional response in the audience whilst at the same time rockin' the place. Hopefully I'll manage to move the hearts and minds and feet of the crowd.
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Lee Jones with Mark Henning, Gregorythme and PL0T residents. Friday, April 1f. Electric
Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 11 p.m. Ages 21 and up.
Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.