UK DJ-producer Laura Jones will be making her Miami debut this Saturday. But in a way, it's actually a homecoming.
That's because DJs like Matt Tolfrey (who would later sign her to his hotly tipped Leftroom imprint) introduced Jones to the world by dropping her tracks all over town during this year's Winter Music Conference.
Fast forward just a few months, and Laura Jones is a veritable star on the transtlantic tech-house scene. But don't believe for a second that it's all just a matter of serendipity. The recipe for Miss Jones' success is equal parts talent and perspiration. In fact, she might be one of the hardest-working people in the industry.
She spoke with Crossfade about ditching the 9-to-5 for a shot at the big time, and why female DJs are taking over.
Crossfade: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music?
Laura Jones: I have always been superpassionate about music, for as long as I can remember. And from my teenage years right through to my university years, I was drawn to pretty much every genre going until I discovered the whole underground electronic scene going on in Ibiza in the summer of 2004.
My first few trips to DC10 blew my mind and it was seeing the likes of Tania Vulcano, Loco Dice, and Clive Henry work their magic that inspired me to want to do the same. So a year later, once I graduated, I decided to try and do so. I had to work a 9-to-5 to fund the music and it was very much a case of having to make sacrifices, one thing being my social life, to try and make it work. I bought decks, took a DJing crash course at a music college in the north of England. And after a few years of DJing very occasionally at various parties in the UK, I decided the only way I was going to ever really succeed at being a full-time DJ was to produce my own music. So in 2008, I bought Logic and have been teaching myself to produce since.
2011 was your big breakthrough year and it was quite the meteoric rise from relative unknown to chart-topping international star. What was the turning point?
Yeah, it's all kicked off in the last couple of months. It's still not quite sunk in. I think the combination of "Love in Me" and "Live a Little" coming out at the same time was the turning point. There was a video of Matt Tolfrey playing "Love In Me" at the Get Lost party at WMC last year that caught the attention of a lot of people in quite a short space of time. And due to distribution issues at Leftroom, the release date kept continually being moved back. There was a long period for the hype to build. So when it eventually came out along with a track on Visionquest, it was pretty powerful, I guess. Far more so than I ever anticipated. They obviously both ended up doing really well on Beatport and caught the attention of an even larger audience as a result.
How has your life changed now that you're a globetrotting DJ?
It couldn't have changed more radically. This time four months ago, I was stuck in a 9-to-5, hating every minute, longing to be able to make and play music full-time, and now I am. And it's unreal. I feel so fortunate to be in this position right now. But I'm also really conscious of not taking it for granted as you just never know what's around the corner. I just hope I can continue to make music. If it does the job of putting smiles on peoples' faces after a hard day's work, then my job accomplished.
We spoke to the Visionquest crew back in March and they told us about their hyper-specific artistic vision and the exclusivity of their A&R approach. How did you hook up with the label and what do you think bonds you creatively with them?
I met Seth [Troxler] in 2007 at WMC, and actually warmed up for he and Ryan at a party I was a resident for in Leeds at the time. So I've known them both for several years. When I finished my first four tracks (one of which was "Live A Little"), I sent them to Matt Tolfrey for a listen and whilst in Detroit at DEMF, he played it to the boys and they really liked it. The track obviously then came out as part of a VA a year or so later, and I've been working on other material for them since.
I think with regards to what makes us bond -- I make musical music. I'm a classically trained pianist, so actually a lot of what I write is quite song-like and has lots of melody to it. They're looking to release dance music that's a little bit removed from the norm on Visionquest, stuff that's a little bit different, but also timeless and not so obvious.
Did you find it challenging as a woman get where you've gotten in the male-dominated EDM game? And do you think women are on their way to making a bigger impact on the scene?
I do definitely feel that it's still very much a male-dominated industry. However, I don't think it's really affected my success in any way. I really think that if you make good music, that gets noticed by people, then it really doesn't matter whether you're male or female. Of course, it depends on the situation to an extent. But I think actually it can work in your favor as a female, as there are fewer of us out there making and playing underground electronic music. There are obviously more and more women doing it these days, so maybe this won't be the case in a few years. I've recently been booked to play for a few parties in which all the DJs booked to play were female. Plus, there's the likes of new, really solid and talented producers like Maya Jane Coles and Deniz Kurtel coming to the fore. So I think the impact is already on the up and I can see that becoming more so over the next few years.
What have been your personal highlights of this successful year? And what's in store for you next?
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It's been one big highlight, in all honesty. Being able to travel around the world, playing such amazing parties, and meeting such great people along the way has been amazing and long may it continue. It was pretty surreal flying out to play in Ibiza in the summer, as that's where my love for it all began six or seven years ago. So it's strange to be the one standing on the other side of the DJ booth these days.
Coming up, I have a remix package of "Love In Me" with remixes from Maceo Plex, Kate Simko, and Eats Everything, a mix compilation coming out on a new Leftroom series due to be launched around WMC in March, an EP on Visionquest, a track on Crosstown Rebels, and I'm very fortunate to be remixing one of my favourite records of all time -- "I'm Lonely" by Hollis P. Monroe for a re-release on Noir music. So it's safe to say I'm keeping busy.
Laura Jones and Andrew Grant with Un_Mute residents. Saturday, November 19. Eve, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Ages 21 and up. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-995-5050 or visit miamieve.com.