What first attracted you to music? Which artists / songs are your earliest influences?
I started playing many musical instruments from an early age as well as vocal training in my teens so I was surrounded by a lot of music when I was growing up. The majority of this was classical but there was the odd bit of jazz and contemporary too.
I took a liking to pretty much every genre of my music going in my early to late teens, indie, trance, hip-hop and garage and it wasn’t until going to Ibiza in my early twenties that the penny dropped with electronic music.
I decided I wanted to become a DJ in the summer of 2005 while spending a season out there for the first time. I went to DC10 almost every week and became inspired by watching DJs like Tania Vulcano, Clive Henry and Dan Ghenacia. I was 22 and had just graduated from University and had never tried it before but my gut instinct told me it was the right thing to do
How did your relationships with Leftroom and Visionquest come about?
I actually met Tolfrey the same summer in 2005. We met one Monday at DC10 through a mutual friend. We became good friends over time and when finishing my first few tracks in 2010, he was one of the first people I sent them to. I met Seth at WMC in Miami in 2007 and later that year warmed up for him and Ryan at Mint club in Leeds. I’ve since met Lee and Shaun and we’ve all become good friends. During DEMF in 2010, Matt played the boys the first few tracks I’d sent him, they really liked ‘Live A Little’, decided in the October that they were going to sign it and it got released the following summer.
Tell us about the process for selecting the tracks for your new mix compilation: Leftroom Presents… Laura Jones?
I knew I didn’t want to do a straight-up club mix so opted for something a little deeper. With liking so many different types of tracks, pin-pointing the angle to take with it was a little tricky but just picked tracks I liked and hoped that a good selection would come back to me having been agreed by the labels involved. I commissioned three exclusive remixers which was the fun part – Matt Tolfrey & Russo, Gavin Herlihy and Ryan Crosson. They were able to choose their own track to remix from Leftroom’s back-catalogue and then I very much left them to their own devices. I picked the three I did as I knew I could trust them all to deliver which they did so it all worked out perfectly in the end.
How did you go about producing music – any favourite piece of software / hardware that you like to use?
I currently share a studio with my boyfriend Gavin Herlihy. We have a desktop iMac with Mackie HR 824 monitors, a 72-key keyboard, Maschine, a Roland Gaia synth and a Korg Electribe. My main DAW is Logic and the main plug-ins I use are Native Instrument’s Kontakt and Spectrasonic’s Trillian and Omnisphere for its collection of hardware synth samples
I’ve used primarily soft-synths to create my tracks thus far as we didn’t have any hardware at the time. We’ve only just started to invest in hardware this year so the aim is to build up the hardware collection and continue learning the ropes.
How you describe your sound in terms of DJ’ing? What do you prefer to dj with?
I love and play a real variety of music in my sets. I tend to keep things pretty moody but melodic at the same time. I play anything from stripped back Deep House and right through to techno. I even play the dubbier, more breaks-style music if the mood suits. Ultimately it doesn’t really bother me what genre something belongs to, if it’s good and it’s right in the moment I’ll play it. I also think it can really work in your favour if what you play is relatively diverse as one thing I’ve noticed when touring round Europe and the rest of the world is that every country seems to be at a very different stage in the evolution of underground dance music so it helps to be able to tailor the sound on the night.
Right now, I am playing with Traktor Scratch as I don’t have the best vision and it’s easier for me to see the computer screen than it is text on a CD or vinyl sleeve. I only started using it a couple of months ago and am using CD at the moment but will be moving to vinyl pretty soon and actually I think longer term, once I have a tour manager in tow (and someone to carry the bags), I’ll most probably go back to vinyl. Ha!
What are the positives and negatives affecting dance music in 2012?
The main negative affecting dance music in 2012 is the fact that the underground scene is losing its identity a little. I remember when I started collecting vinyl, I couldn’t get enough of searching for tracks I’d heard out in the clubs and it wouldn’t be that difficult to find and the quality would be next-level. Now, you try and look for something and you have to wade through reams of noise to find it. I think now that it’s easier for people to start labels and put out music digitally, it’s diluting the quality of the music.
More and more DJs are becoming involved in the commercial side of things at the expense of what they believe in order to make more money. Some club-owners seem to be doing the same. I recently played at a new club in Europe, amazing sound, great vibe but tarnished slightly by the fact the owner can’t decide whether to keep it underground or go commercial. I really think people should stick to their guns regardless of the money that’s involved but guess I’m not a club owner in the current economic climate.
I think the main positive would have to be the continued comeback of vinyl. I’ve been living in Leeds since coming to uni here in 2001 and I’ve been witness to the best underground record stores in the city gradually closing down one by one with exception of one or two who sell a wider range of genres as well as tickets for events. In the last month, one has opened again in Leeds selling only underground dance music and it seems to be a roaring success thus far. It’s called Waxwerks and is adjoined by a new club space called The Garage, which is also the best underground clubbing experience Leeds has seen in a good while.
Who do you like to listen to outside of house music?
I’m finding very little time for alternative listening at the moment but when I have the time, I love a lot of different music, old and new. I’m really in to electronica and downbeat stuff. I still love hip-hop, garage and the more stripped back musical dubstep like Burial and Consequence. Early influences who I still like to listen to are bands like Radiohead and the Rolling Stones. I love Arthur Russell, Prince and Stevie Wonder too, they’re all big big inspirations of mine. And I guess more recently, artists such as Blood Orange, Jamie Woon and Junip.
‘Leftroom Presents… Laura Jones’ is released mid-June on Leftroom with an accompanying vinyl sampler appearing at the same time…