Jamie Jones: Life in “Paradise”
Rising, yet prominent Welsh DJ-producer, Jamie Jones, has achieved in a few years what many producers strive to accomplish in an entire lifespan. After his successful residency at Ibiza DC10, Jamie began touring the world with his Paradise parties bringing them to various clubs and festivals. When he’s not bringing a touch of deep house and techno live to his loyal global following, he’s hustling behind-the-scenes as the label head of his Hot Creations imprint. Though Jamie has created a revered musical identity, much like many successful artists, the steps leading to his charmed DJ life wasn’t exactly ‘paradise.’ Jamie landed (and bombed) his first club gig at the age of 17. Describing that inaugural set, Jamie says, “’Trainwreck’ would be a compliment for the first 15 minutes. Luckily my friend was with me and he took over. I was as red as I could get with my skin tone.” He continues to reflect on that humbling experience before adding that producing and deejaying are skills that “you get better at” by comparing it to the learning of an instrument. And he’s right. Jamie’s “practice makes perfect” mentality along with the appreciation of dance music’s forefathers have led to his solo accomplishments.
One of the most exciting aspects of Jamie’s production is his adaptability. He shifts gears musically in such a way that his sound fits into deep house, techno, and the in-betweens – only to be valued by those who just simply enjoy music. Turning his hand to a variety of styles while remaining distinct, Jamie is busy in the studio working on multiple projects such as his own and a side effort with Guy Gerber. Hot Natured, the electronic group in which Jamie is a part of, will perform at the CRSSD Festival and Coachella Music and Art Festival – in addition to working on their sophomore album. “We all came together on a certain vibe. Lee Foss is on a deep house tip – the more vocals and stuff. I’ve become a bit more techno I guess and a bit weirder. Ali’s the songwriter so he’s always come from that background. Luca comes from more of an indie background. So when the combination of them all come together – it’s brilliant,” Jamie says. “It’s great because you get to infuse all of those elements and all those vibes that people are on into one and ends up being something quite unique.”
Jamie will host his renowned Paradise party during the fast-approaching Miami Music Week. Naturally, that felt like a good segue into the conversation.
Life + Times: I haven’t had the privilege of attending one of your Paradise parties. So, how do you keep things interesting from month-to-month without becoming bored?
Jamie Jones: In Ibiza, when the opportunity first came up to do my own party, I was like ‘It’s the right time.’ This was almost four years ago, I thought it was the right time and I’ve always envisioned sort of the sun coming up in Ibiza in a club with our vibe and our energy. I had no idea exactly what I was in store for because I thought, ‘Oh yeah, let’s just book some DJs, do some art, get a little production, easy breezy.’ (Laughs) I don’t even know if there’s a word that’s more than “full-time jobbing,” which is a life-encompassing role especially for the first summer it was messy. Now it’s much better everyone, all the team, know what they’re doing and we make sure that we’re really far ahead with the booking and planning. You have a good sense of the crowd. People come every week – from people working the clubs or bars [and] friends that live on the island during the summer. Trying to keep it every week is a lot of time spent buying music and looking for music. It’s quite time consuming, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Ibiza DC10 is one of my favorite clubs in the world to go. To be able to sort of curate and create something there is pretty special for me.
L+T: That’s great! But you bring this party to other clubs other than DC10, right?
JJ: The night is basically built around there. We do 13 weeks there and then what I do is a series of festival stages like TomorrowWorld, Creamfields, and we’re doing one in Brazil. We’re doing one that’s starting on the West Coast here (CRSSD Festival). BPM [Festival] we have an event there, [and] WMC (Winter Music Conference). Then, we’re starting to do kind of a world tour taking over a field or warehouse, kind of mini festivals or one-day events.
L+T: That’s cool. I like how you brought out that it’s really fun to curate each week what you’ll play. I noticed with your live sets not only do you have an appreciation for deep house, but you also have an appreciation for Detroit techno. So, I’m going to pick your brain a bit.
JJ: Yeah? Go for it!
L+T: If I were new to the scene in general and you wanted to give me a history lesson, what are a couple of records you’d recommend for me to listen to in Detroit techno?
JJ: Oh! Detroit techno records? Hmm. (Pause) Good question. The first one would definitely be something from Underground Resistance because I personally really appreciate the melody…god, it’s hard to choose one.
L+T: It can even be something that you’re listening to this week. Let’s narrow it down that way. What are you into this week for Detroit techno?
JJ: Okay, I’m a huge fan of this act called Suburban Knight who is on Underground Resistance. There’s one called “The Art Of Stalking” by Suburban Knight which I love. And another Detroit techno song I’d have to say probably a Jeff Mills record, like “Bells.”
L+T: That’s a classic. For artists like you that have to curate on a weekly basis, I’m sure you’re always on the hunt for something current or from the past that can help drive the show along.
JJ: Absolutely. One of the big moments for me as a DJ was I heard a set by Ricardo Villalobos at Amnesia in Ibiza I think in 2005. Before that, I’d come from a culture of just going to the record store buying the new releases every week. I’d go to Black Market Records in London and a couple of others. I’d just buy what was coming out that week. It was the first time that I had heard anyone play it. It sounded old, but current. That’s when I really discovered the art of [or] passion for going back and looking for old records. It’s just become an obsession since then – spending hours trying to find records that were basically lost classics or lost gems that I hadn’t heard anyone play before. On that day I went on this big online record store in the UK. They’ve got a huge, huge, huge warehouse. By catalog, I went through all of deep house, minimal tech section, all the nu disco. I spent weeks listening to every single sound and picking out about 400 records and then slowly saving up and buying them all. I think it’s even more fun when you find an old record that you’ve never heard of and haven’t heard before.
L+T: Well, I’m definitely checking out that Suburban Knight track. That’s not a familiar one for me.
JJ: Yeah, it’s cool. It’s got really reverbed bass, interesting melodies. I’ve played that one quite a few times over the years.
L+T: Do you think a DJ is a musician?
JJ: A producer, yes, definitely. A DJ? No, because you’re not creating or playing an instrument. I mean, it’s a tough question actually. (Pause) No, I don’t think a DJ is a musician.
L+T: I never get the same answer, but I’m curious as to why your response is ‘no.’ Why not?
JJ: There’s a difference between editing a magazine and writing for a magazine, you know. There are people that are greater at putting other creations together and making them as a whole thing. I think you have to create something original in order to be a musician. I don’t know it’s really tough. Musicians don’t really write music a lot when they can just play an instrument. I guess turntables and a mixer could be an instrument.
Photo Credit: Andrew Rauner