Laura Jones: Proof that hard work and determination can make dreams come true
Laura Jones has had a rather sharp rise up the DJ ranks. Since falling in love with house and techno during a trip to Ibiza in 2005, she’s worked hard to make a name for herself and finally got her big break last year with one of my favourite tracks of 2011 – ‘Love In Me’. Some bad news about her sight in 2008 pushed Laura to work even harder to achieve her dreams and, with the support of her partner Gavin Herlihy, and her own undeniable talents, she’s doing really well for herself. This week she had her debut at DC10, the club where she first made the life-changing decision to get involved in music, and next month she releases her debut mix CD for her friend Matt Tolfrey’s Leftroom label. Ahead of her debut at DC10, we caught up for a chat about her past, present and future…
How are you feeling about your debut at DC10 in Ibiza because I know that’s where it all started for you?
I’m a bit nervous, but really excited as well because it’s almost seven years to the day when I was stood on the terrace at DC10 and I went “Do you know what, I actually quite fancy this!”. I’ve always been a lover of music and the penny did literally drop that season – I’d left university and went out there for the season and I was so inspired by everything that I heard. I’d been into so many genres as a teenager and, there, I finally found what I was looking for.
It hasn’t really been that long between then and where you are now, has it?
No, well considering I had a full-time job up until August last year. My friend and I just went to Ibiza for a holiday after we’d graduated, when we got home we were so depressed we were like “Why don’t we just go back out?!”. So we did it.
How did you get the news about your DC10 debut?
It came via a friend who was I speaking to about Burning Man tickets. I couldn’t really believe it until I saw it myself, so I was super nervous about whether it was actually happening. I was in Italy the other week and I started getting texts from all my friends saying ‘congratulations’, people I’d not told because I was keeping it under wraps. So I thought, either they’re at an after-party somewhere gossiping or it’s been announced. I checked on RA when I got to the hotel and it had been announced, my name was on the flyer and everything. It felt amazing.
I can imagine it must have been pretty overwhelming…
I’ve always set myself goals. I mean not, “Oh my god, I have to play at these places and play at them by a certain time”, but in my head I thought, “I would love to play at fabric in Room 1 and I’d love to play at DC10 one day”. I always thought, if I could achieve those goals then that would be when everything was really coming together for me. Fabric happened in March and now I’m doing DC10 as well.
What were you doing as a full-time job?
I was working in marketing part-time when I was at uni, then I went full-time when I graduated. I decided to get involved in the music thing when I came back from Ibiza and they were really understanding, I went to music college on a Monday and worked a Tuesday to Saturday week. It all worked out perfectly, it was only a crash course that I went on… it sounds a bit silly but it was just to learn how to DJ.
I did the same thing actually!
Do you know what it was, loads of friends said “I’ll show you”, and it’s like yeah you say that but what if I want to have a go on a Tuesday afternoon and you’re busy? I’d rather take myself off, learn how to do it and at least be able to do everything by myself. As soon as I came back from Ibiza I spent thousands of pounds (on finance) on DJ equipment; a mixer, CD decks, vinyl turntables… the works. So I was pretty serious about it and I just wanted to learn how to do it properly.
So when did you get to the point when you thought you could ditch marketing and do music full-time?
About three years in, I was getting despondent – this is only after DJing sporadically and doing a little bit of producing – after a while you start getting a bit negative and wondering ‘Is this really ever going to happen?’. I had some bad news about my health and found out about an eye condition that I have, so it all took a backseat for a while and wasn’t really a priority. Eventually I got back into the swing of things, just on weekends when I didn’t have anything else to do, I’d made about 13 or 14 tracks and I asked Gav which he thought had the most potential he told me to finish a particular group of tracks, sent them out to Matt Tolfrey and they got snapped up. They did a lot better than anticipated and I started thinking that I might be able to leave, around that time I got made redundant anyway! So everything worked out perfectly, I’m a big believer in fate now.
And how’s your health now?
My health is cool, it’s a degenerative thing so it’s slowly getting worse and I’m gradually losing my sight. But it’s cool, I’ve still got my ears. It holds me back a little bit at times, I think over the coming years there’s going to be a lot of adapting to do if I’m going to continue doing this, but it’s do-able I reckon. Even if it comes to a point where I have to play off a controller that I know like the back of my hand so there aren’t any overwhelming situations in darkened places and I can’t see my way around. There are ways and means around it, it’s not the end of the world. I’m trying to stay positive so…
I guess you’ve had a lot of support from your loved ones as well.
Yeah I think everyone’s super proud because I think I’ve inspired a lot of my friends along the way. It puts things into perspective doesn’t it, if you’re having a shit day and you see your friend who’s up against some really adverse challenges and, in the face of that, still ends up getting to the point where she’s pretty successful I guess that’s inspiring. It’s definitely made me stronger and made me want to achieve my goals, I’ve known about this for four years now and I can safely say that I wouldn’t have been as driven these last few years if it hadn’t been for this.
It can take something like that to make you push yourself more than if you think you’ve got all the time in the world.
Yeah exactly, I do feel a bit like that, I feel like I’m up against more time-wise than your average person. But, while I feel I’m up against it, I take each day as it comes – obviously I want to keep growing and get to a position where I have assistants to help me so I don’t need to find my way around on my own. It sounds strange but the most challenging thing right now is actually finding my way to my hotel room [laughs]. Not finding my way around the DJ booth, just getting my arse to my hotel room. The lighting is quite bad in the lifts and corridors of these nice, swanky hotels. They’re going for the mood lighting when it’s like, “Actually, I can’t see right now”! [Laughs]
Moving on from that, how did ‘Love In Me’ come about?
It was one of the first few tracks I started, purely just a case of trial and error if I’m honest. It’s still like that now, I’m not that far along the curve yet where I’ve found the formula. A lot of DJs/producers get to a stage where they can knock out a tune in a couple of hours because they’ve found that formula… that’s quite cool if you want to have a similar theme among your tracks, but I’m always keen to produce a diverse array of tracks because I’m excited by a diverse array of tracks. ‘Love In Me’ started when I was playing around on the keyboard and the hook of the bassline came along, originally it sat a lot deeper in the mix but it made it all a bit muddy, then I put it a bit higher in the mix and it changed everything and gave everything a bit more space and brought it to life. I’m really pleased with it, I think a lot of people think it’s a load of samples but the beats are my own hits that I’ve looped.
And, you used to be into garage didn’t you?
Yeah, I was into it in my late teens before I discovered what I really liked. I still love my garage, Ayia Napa was my holiday destination for a few years before I discovered Ibiza.
Who were you into garage-wise?
That’s a good question… it’s the older stuff that I’m still into. The Nice N’ Ripe back catalogue just got re-released, it was fun going back through that old stuff [for her Beatport top 10] because it’s been a while since I had a chance to listen to it, I’ve been so immersed in doing my own thing, I barely get the chance to other peoples’ music in this scene never mind other scenes. Even when I’m sleuthing for tunes now they’re sometimes garage-tinged, they have that ’skippiness’ to them.
Can you tell me a bit about your mix for Leftroom? I thought it was really coherent from beginning to end.
That’s exactly what I wanted. It was really stressful, obviously being my first one and, I don’t want to bore with the technicalities but it was the licensing. You have a long list of tracks you want to use, then you end up with a list of the ones you can use… plus with the remixes I commissioned, I didn’t know what I was going to get – I had confidence that they’d come up with great stuff, which they did, but it was a challenge in my mind to think, “How the fuck is this going to flow right?”. So I’m pleased that’s your perception, because that’s the goal but it’s not something I necessarily always aim to achieve, it’s just happened, so that’s cool.
Production-wise, I guess it helps having Gav as a partner?
Very much so yeah, we bounce ideas off each other and, also, it’s good to get someone else’s perspective because you can sit in the studio for hours on end banging your head against a brick wall over something thinking it’s a load of shite and then he’ll come in and go, “Nah, that’s actually really good” because he hasn’t heard it before. Similarly he’ll be working on something and I’ll be like, “I’m not so into that, but I like that”. It’s really really helpful, Gavin’s the reason I finished the first few tracks I did because he looked objectively at the ones I had half-done and chose the ones that had the most potential and I probably wouldn’t have been able to figure that out myself.
How did you you two get together?
We actually met in Ibiza as well.
That really is where the magic happens isn’t it!
Yeah it really is! We got introduced by Clive Henry, who’s a mutual friend of ours. It’s a funny story actually, Gavin was DJing at Es Vive and he was coming off the back of a long few days, I was just at the stage where I was getting into the whole thing. I was just out of a long-term relationship and I wasn’t looking for that at all. I was just into the music, being a total keen-o and going up to all the DJs going “What’s this tune? What’s this tune?”, absolutely annoying the hell out of everyone and I went up to him and asked him the name of a track he was playing (it was a Marc Houle track called ‘Has To Do’), later on that night we got chatting together with Clive and started seeing each other around. We became friends and, over time, it just happened naturally.
I have to ask about the Prince Harry stuff that came up in the papers, have you had any press trying to get in touch with you about it?
No, no… not yet, no. It’s funny because Matt Tolfrey went to a party the other month and the DJ turned around and went, “Oh yeah check this out, Prince Harry came up to me the other week and asked me what the track was I was playing” (and it was my Playdo remix). I was like “Whatever, course he didn’t!” so when I saw the papers the other day, I thought “Maybe he did then!”, it’s so funny.
Leftroom Presents… Laura Jones is out on June 18. For more information on Laura herself, visit here Facebook page HERE.Tagged in: Crosstown Rebels, DC10, Gavin Herlihy, House, Ibiza, Laura Jones, Leftroom, Matt Tolfrey, techno
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