Jamie Jones has been busy. He’s been guiding Paradise through its seventh season in Ibiza, has been working on a new orchestral project with Kate Simko (debuting at London’s Barbican in November) and is preparing for an end-of-summer appearance at Creamfields, his only UK gig for the next few months.
We caught him to talk about the next evolution of his label Hot Creations, where Ibiza is at right now and the need for authenticity in the ever-evolving underground scene. “What I don’t agree with is people doing things just for success,” he says. “You’ve just got to be you.”
Read the full interview below.
How are you feeling about your upcoming set at Creamfields?
I started playing Creamfields about three years ago, and I was actually really pleasantly surprised with it. People were really up for it and the stage is packed every year. It’s actually been really good every year I’ve done it.
How different is the energy somewhere like Creamfields – or any festival in the UK – to a club in Ibiza?
You know, it’s really different. I really cater my sets for different countries in different ways. I’ve been doing this for 15 years now, and you really notice that people just groove differently in different countries. Things that work for me in the UK don’t work for me in Italy, for example. It’s been really cool because I don’t really play as many clubs in the UK, so I’ve got some things I like to do at festivals; it’s a mixed bag.
[Is it] different from Ibiza? Ibiza is across Europe, so you have a lot of Italians, a lot of Spanish… A lot of people from everywhere in one club. It’s a bit more intimate. You’ve only got like 1500 people in the whole club over 2 rooms, and Creamfields is 8000 plus people, so it definitely changes.
What do you think of Ibiza? Are you still into it? What do you think it’s future is?
You know, I’m lucky because I do my party at DC-10, which despite all the changes that have come with clubbing in Ibiza – a lot more VIPs, table service – DC-10 has maintained it to be about the dancefloor mainly. So there’s no tables on the terrace at all, nothing like that. But although Ibiza always has its ups and downs, it’s always got something. I remember people saying “Oh, this place is the new Ibiza” or “Ayia Napa is the new Ibiza”, but there’s nowhere like it still. And these days you do have a lot of options, there’s a lot more festivals all over Europe with great DJs playing, so there’s a lot more choice for young people. And Ibiza definitely needs to find a way to cater to young people a bit more. Especially with the prices – [the island has] outpriced almost a generation of people. The club ticket prices and the drinks have always been expensive, even when I was going in ‘98, but you could still get a cheap flight, a cheap room - it was expensive, but it was manageable. So the island really does need to find a way to appeal. And as the competition from all over Europe is becoming stronger for music events, I think [clubs and promoters] are going to start to realise that they do need to accommodate those people. But Ibiza is still a beautiful, great place with a brilliant vibe, it’s almost impossible not to have a good time here.
You’ve just said there’s nowhere like Ibiza, but do you think there’s anywhere up-and-coming that looks cool?
There’s a few places that are up-and-coming. Obviously Croatia’s been getting stronger and stronger every year, the difference being that it’s a whole country. There are cool spots where people do festivals, but they’re a long way apart. You can’t go for a week and get to all of them, so it’s a different experience. But it is an amazing place – it’s cheap, it’s got a lot of the freedoms that you don’t have in Ibiza anymore like outdoor soundsystems at night and stuff like that. I think that somewhere like Croatia is great to hear good music. It’s a proper raver’s place. Ibiza has the raver element, but it is obviously expensive. Mykonos is becoming really popular, but that’s more of the VIP crowd and it’s really expensive there too. And a lot of places don’t have three different club nights or even more every single night of the week. Whatever night you want to go out on there’s something to do. Croatia doesn’t really have that.
On to your label Hot Creations. Where do you think the sound is going next?
That’s a good question… When I get sent demos, a lot of them are what people think I’m playing or we’re releasing. But the reality is, that the stuff I’m signing now won’t be out for 7 months at least. As far as direction wise, right now I’m signing almost like our version of techno. So it’s quite stripped, but not as industrial as a lot of other stuff. Our stuff has still got a funk to it, the rhythms are a lot more stripped, and it’s a bit more analogue-y sounding. There’s a couple of records like that, and there’s other stuff that move towards more classic house music sounds. It’s across the board. What I’ve noticed in music at the moment is that people like extremes. They want something to be really deep or really hard. I don’t really ever think about what I’m doing in the future, I just try and do what’s interesting to me. I’m never looking for a particular type of sound. Right now, it’s things that are different that are standing out.
How do you feel seeing people like Richy Ahmed and Patrick Topping playing all over the world? It must make you really proud!
Ah it’s amazing. It’s probably one of the best things for me about doing what I’m doing. I obviously love playing for 20,000 people, but it’s amazing seeing those guys really get big. At this stage, they’re well set on their way. And as much as I’m proud of them for getting bigger and bigger, for me, it’s those moments where somebody who’s maybe doing a day job and making tunes in the evening realises they can make a career out of this, that are much more important to me. They can pay the bills and not be worried, or start actually playing out every week. And to be honest with you, I see a lot of young lads get caught up in how big you can be in this industry. I’m lucky because I’ve done pretty well, and it’s cool to have all of the things you get at this level - whether it’s private jets or five-star hotels - but it’s not as cool as just being able to make music and pay your rent. People have said to me that they “feel like they’re stuck” or they “can’t seem to get past this level”, and I always say to them “listen, are you able to pay your rent? Are you making music?”. That’s all you need. So when people achieve that, and I’m able to help them get to that point, that’s the best bit. But obviously to see them absolutely smashing it, playing to thousands of people and really establishing themselves as heroes of the scene is fantastic as well!
How has dance music changed since you’ve been on the scene?
I think that one of the main things is that globally the scene has become so big. And the amount of money that’s involved now! For me, one of my goals has always been to get music that I love to as many people as possible, and it’s good to see underground stages pop-up everywhere for the first time. Before, unless somebody showed you this cool music, then you wouldn’t find it. I grew up in rural Wales, so unless someone showed me drum ‘n’ bass or hardcore, I might not have found something that I loved. But now it’s easier because of the internet. For me to see this music get exposed to more and more people, and for more and more people to fall in love with it, is a really positive thing. Obviously what comes with the bigger the crowds is that money gets involved and then it becomes more business-like. It becomes a little bit… not less about music, but it just has more elements to it. It’s one of those things that you just have live with. Also, one thing that people sometimes forget is that there’s now festivals that only book what you might call purely underground music – a festival like Dekmantel. There are thousands of people at them now, whereas when I first started out, if someone booked Theo Parrish, there would be like 150 people there. And now, there’s going to be 2000 people there. And I don’t necessarily think bigger has to be a bad thing. For me it just symbolizes more people listening to better music! And however big underground music becomes, it’s still underground music. It’s not music that gets played on daytime radio. I think I got my point across there…
Yeah, you did, and I hadn’t actually thought about that. I suppose underground music is less confined to ‘scenes’ now, and people from the UK might go to a festival like Dekmantel in Amsterdam and listen to underground music from all over Europe.
Well there’s just so much choice, you know? I’m still surprised at how many people are into it now. All over the world. The idea for me to play to like 15-20,000 people would have been so crazy when I started out. And not just because it’s me doing it, but anyone. Anyone playing underground music – a DJ even! But now, you can listen to Peggy Gou or someone, people who are playing and producing really cool music, and there’s thousands and thousands of people listening to them. It’s an amazing thing. To have any negative thought about that, to me, is insane.
Did you see the Salvatore Ganacci video? With that in mind, what should DJs be doing to stand out?
The reality of it is, it’s a show. For people to stand out from the crowd – it’s the same with social media and all that kind of thing – you’ve just got to be you. Some people are showmen. As long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing as an artist, or a showman, or whatever you want to call yourself - and you’re making other people happy – there’s a place for everyone. What I don’t agree with is people doing things just for success. If your goal is to make money, or to be more successful or famous, then that’s cool. But if you’re doing something because it feels natural to you, and you want to do handstands on stage or stage-dive, then more power to you.
And my last question, what music are you working on the moment?
Well I’m actually embarking on a huge project this winter that’s involving quite a few things. The first part of it, is that myself and Kate Simko - who I’ve been working with for a few years but very sporadically – are launching our project this November. It’s kind of what she’s been doing with the London Electronic Orchestra, but just on a bigger scale, and with me. We did a show in Colombia 18 months ago because they invited us to do it with the 44-piece National Orchestra of Colombia. And so we’re basically taking that show, and doing it quite a few more times over the next few months. The first one is coming up in November. So we’re working hard on that at the moment.
Jamie Jones plays at Creamfields this weekend