Widely regarded as the leader of the new sound of house, Jamie Jones is renowned for his pioneering music; his cross genre band, Hot Natured; his groundbreaking label, Hot Creations; and his world-renowned event series, Paradise. In less than a decade, he has catapulted himself to stardom by shattering genres and breaking out of the confines of minimal techno. Jamie’s revolutionary sound is an instrumental part of his success, being both artistically innovative and yet easily accessible. He and his label, Hot Creations, have been credited with creating an iconic sound that has paved the way for a warmer, more melodic, deeper side of techno to emerge.
Jamie, what’s your earliest memory of being a music fan?
Sitting in the back of my mother’s car on the way into town on a Saturday afternoon, singing the words to Whitney Houston songs at the top of our voices. I’m scared to think how it sounded considering my singing voice now could be used as a very effective torture method…
When did your love turn to dance/house music specifically?
My cousin who was a little older than I and definitely the wild child of the family used to bring back rave tapes, I remember having a recording of a radio show by Stu Allen on Key 103 in Manchester. I loved it and listened on repeat. I then began an almost two year experiment in trying to make my own radio aerial that would receive the show from Manchester to North Wales. It consisted of me taping several old aerials and wires together and climbing onto my roof. Of course it never worked.
How did growing up in Wales inspire you musically?
It didn’t. Everyone liked Oasis and Welsh bands, singing in Welsh. I was into house and drum and bass, and the Chemical Brothers. The only god thing was there were two good record stores in Bangor, and I went there whenever I could, usually buying what I had heard on Giles Peterson or Pete tong’s radio shows.
You’ve played countless festivals including Glastonbury, Burning Man and Tomorrowland?
I think it’s all about energy at festivals. Really I love things to be organised and have top notch production, but if the vibe is there all you need is a sound system. The sound does need to be loud though. People don’t dance if the volume’s not high enough. They enjoy the music but they don’t rave, and in the UK there’s always one neighbour who wants to be problematic for the sake of it, and complains all day, so we have to have limiters. I’ve heard of festivals offering the one complainer a holiday to anywhere they want in the world all paid for for the weekend or the week of the rave. But they would rather stay and complain. Ridiculous!
What’s your fondest festival memory? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done?
I’ve done some pretty crazy things at Burning Man, there’s all sorts of weird and wonderful things to do there, but I’d rather keep them between me and my friends! On the last leg of the Furniture music tour in Australia myself and my tour manager got very drunk and stole a golf buggy. We drove it out of the festival and around the perimeter and almost ran two people over. We drove it back to where all the top level staff were hanging out they didn’t look too happy, but we of course found it hilarious in our drunken state!
Since you started in the industry what differences have you noticed in the dance and house music scene?
I mean, where do I begin? When I first started there was no digital music to speak of, everyone just went to the record store every week, which has actually come full circle and now vinyl is back in a big way. When I first started touring the UK I was the first established artist to play some of the smaller cities, now the scene is huge clubs in every small city, and house music is the music that university kids listen to predominantly. In the US I’m not sure kids had even heard a 4/4 beat in most places but now it’s huge. House has grown from a niche music genre to a global phenomenon, there’s still niche styles and artists but they are supported by a larger world that filters a greater audience down so the most underground DJ plays to 800 people rather than to 80 all over the world.
Why do you think people are embracing house music now?
Technology has allowed people to make music much easier. People are making it on their phones! I’m not sure how good it is but it’s happening. I guess kids have stopped picking up guitars as much and now they just download some app or software. They relate more to electronic music.
Talk us through your creative process, how do you go about creating a track and how do you know when you have a hit on your hands?
Drums are the most important part. The mid bass levels, so the baseline and the kick, that’s the frequency that makes people dance the most so I tend to spend a lot of time on that. I have a lot of analogue vintage equipment in my studios so I just tend to play about a lot, record and then chop everything up. The jamming bit is probably my favourite part of my whole job.
You are part of hot natured with us DJ Lee Foss, how does the UK/US fusion enhance the duo?
He brings a US hip hop background and culture to the table for sure, whereas I come from an electronic music background – I’m a house head, always have been. So my focus is always on the groove, the bass, the drums, the energy, whereas lyrics are a new thing to me. Lee isn’t all about the lyrics, he usually sits there and writes words with Ali Love while Luck Cazal and I are making the beats. We all work on everything but that’s the general way it goes.
You also both run hot creations, a label for house music. What do you look out for in prospective artists?
If it works in my sets regularly and feels like a stand out tune I’ll try and sign the person behind it. But I also try and keep the artists I sign to people who are cool. It’s very important to me to be surrounded by people on the same level, doing it for the right reasons – just the love and passion of music and raving, not because they want to be a ‘superstar DJ’. The second you’re doing it for something other than because it’s so much fun the magic is lost for me. I would say I’m a really good judge of character so I try and communicate as much as possible with all the artists and make sure we are on the same wave length. That’s when it works.