Just recently we had Lola Jones on our weekly podcast series. Came across her music profile, as usual, online. Once been locked in with her recorded performance, I thought I must show her to the rest of our listeners and electronic music enthusiats.
Her journey to electronic music began at the age of 16, when she discovered Belgium’s techno temple, worldwide known nightclub called ‘Fuse’. Lola’s first date with this music has left her in love in techno music, which over years has only just grown. In result, she discovered and followed, shaped her music style from, and because of DJs like Richie Hawtin, Len Faki, Pan-Pot and much more. Eventually, in 2017 Lola Jones has launched her event series in Brussels called ‘The Underground’ at Zodiak Club. At this stage she travels around the Europe, especially Belgium to showcase her notorious techno music. A bit more about everything from music to life in the interview below. Make sure you listen her latest podcast and read at the same time for more intimate touch.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
As a child a wanted to become a dancer.
What was the worst job you have ever had?
When I was 16 I cleaned public buses. Luckily I only had to do this for 1 week only.
Can you name a movement or people who pushed you to where you are now?
My parents always told me that I had many talents and could do whatever is in my mind.
Try to imagine, what you would be doing if the music was never been introduced to you?
This is a tough one because music has always been part of my life. Even before I was a DJ I was a dancer and that is also music-related. But maybe something with astrology. I’m obsessed with the energy of the planets.
Aside from music, what do you like to do in your free time?
It maybe sounds cliché but spending time with my family and friends. In the last months, I worked a lot and missed out on some occasions. So if I have some time off I like to catch up.
Tell us about your city, what kind of music scene does it have?
I live in Brussels for 5 years now. We have a lot of talent here in different genres. The techno and hip-hop scene is big here. I discovered techno in Brussels 14 years ago in a famous club called Fuse. The club has been around for 26 years if I don’t mistake. It’s not just a club it really is an institution. Since last year there are other clubs that are doing really well and bring something new and fresh to the table like C12 and Zodiak.
What is your favorite time of the year, and how does it influence your creativity?
My favorite time of the year is the clubbing season that goes from September to June. In Belgium, a lot of clubs are closed in the summer because they can’t compete with festivals. I have the feeling when I play in a club the energy, music, and crowd just really comes together. I don’t have to overthink which track I have to play after another and it’s just more go with the flow.
What do you do before and after your set?
Before my sets, I go to the bathroom 10 times. I’m always super nervous. (haha) After my sets, I like to enjoy the party, go on the dancefloor and dance the night away.
What does your typical week usually look like?
During the week I work as a payroll administrator for Robert Half, so from 9 AM to 5 PM I’m at the office. I go home and do the regular stuff like walking my dogs, doing groceries, cook and spend time with my husband. Every day I try to work 1 or 2 hours for my music. Responding mail, posting on social media and searching music on Beatport. In the weekends I play gigs, visit my family and friends and try to rest.
Where did you spend this New Year’s Eve?
I was sick so at midnight I was sleeping. Afterward, I played a b2b set with Leck Barker at Zodiak. It was a lot of fun but after the adrenaline rush from the set, I started to feel sick again so I went home at 6 AM.
What does music mean to you?
Everything! It has always been a part of my life. My mom is Congolese so music is really important culturally. In big life events like birth, marriage, death my family will come together and sing and make music. When I was around 9 years I started to dance and then music guided my body to move and express myself through my body. Later when I started to go clubbing it was a way to escape from real life and just be one with the music. I had a really bad time going to puberty because I was bullied a lot for the color of my skin. Growing up in an all-white community people always let me know that I was different and it was hard, but music and dance was always there to pick me up. Music is universal and that’s the beauty of it.
Can you tell us about your debut as a DJ, how did it go?
I had to stop dancing due to a knee injury about 10 years ago. For a couple of years, I still was giving dance lessons to people of all ages. It was a lot of fun but every time I was confronted that my body wasn’t able to do the things that I was used to. 6 years ago I was at a friend’s house who learned me the basics. From time to time we came together had some drinks and played a little. I really sucked back then and was super happy when I could beat match 2 tracks. 4 years ago I went through a bad period of my life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and was feeling really depressed. I had some money on my bank account and thought I have to find a new passion. So I went to a music shop and bought my first DJ equipment. 2 months later friends of mine organized a festival called ‘Les Touristes’ and did a little DJ contest. My friend Karim (K-rim) convinced me to participate and so I did. At the contest, the other contestants didn’t show up so I won by default and that is how I started.
Are there any particular memories (good or bad) as a DJ, or an attendee?
The first time I played at Zodiak. I played a closing set and it was just perfect. It was the first time I played in a club in front of that many people. When I finished my set and the people were clapping and screaming that they wanted more, I was so emotional that I cried. That was the moment that I knew that this is what I want.
What is the biggest challenge or sacrifice you have made or have to make in doing what you do?
The biggest challenge is to find a balance between work, djing and personal life. It’s really hard physically but also mentally. During the weekends I miss out on a lot of sleep and on Monday I have to be sharp at the office. I’ve been with my husband for 10 years, and 2 months ago we got married. We would love to start a family so that will be another challenge. I have to sacrifice time with my friends and family. A couple of months ago, I started to play in Germany. It’s hard to see pictures of your family and friends spending time together when I have to travel by myself to go and play my gigs.
Which artists would you say have influenced your sound directly?
So many because I like to mix different sounds and subgenres of techno in my sets. I would say Pan-Pot, Sam Paganini, Len Faki and many more.
Things could go rough, how do you keep yourself motivated creatively?
There are always some moments where I have the feeling that I don’t find the right tracks, vibe or energy but what I’ve noticed is when I passed that phase I grew a lot and got better. So after rain comes sunshine.
How do you usually prepare before a gig, how much space do you leave for improvisation in your sets?
I always check out the artist that play before and after me because I want to take the vibe from the previous artist and build up from there. I also prepare a folder with new tracks that I really like to play and a folder with tracks that I’ve played before and worked well and ping pong between them. Of course, I also have enough music with me that if I feel that I need to head to another direction I can.
What is your standard or most preferred technical setup for the performance?
I love to play with 1x Pioneer CDJ900 NXS2 and 3x CDJ 2000 NXS.
Can you name your favorite venue that you have performed in?
Zodiak in Brussels. It just feels like home.
Where do you think the scene is heading? One year from now, five years from now?
Techno is really popular at the moment. I think that it will continue a couple of years and that the scene will be more divided into mainstream techno and underground techno. When I started to go out the techno was underground and minimal and the house was super hot. I also think that genres come and goes a bit like fashion at one point things from the past are hot again. I have the feeling that it’s the same with music in general. In techno, the combination of new sounds mixed with 90’s sounds works really well. I think it is exciting to see where it will take artists in the future.
Is there anything that bugs you about today’s DJ scene?
Social media bugs me sometimes because I have the feeling that showing yourself is more important than the music and that is wrong. I’m guilty as well because I know how important it is that people can follow you but it just feels so fake. We only show the good side and young people look up to artists and think I want that too but they have no idea that isn’t real life.
For the last one, name three artists that currently inspire you!
So many but these are the first 3 that popped into my head. Nur Jaber, Derrick May and Richie Hawtin
The current climate emergency is now very real. What steps do you think the music industry can take to reduce their impact on this problem in the coming years?
I think this is really difficult because in my opinion, this is something that the government should work on more than they do. For myself, I travel with public transport, recycle waste and cut out as much as possible animal products. Last year I ate 3 times meat for example. (my birthday, Christmas and New Year.) Maybe artists can go for plastic-free riders, clubs and festivals can use reusable cups. But I think this problem is bigger than that.
What is one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?
Guy Gerber – Stoppage Time (Original Mix). I heard this track when I went the first time to a club in 2015.
Do you still find the time to party and enjoy the scene when usually being on the other side of the decks?
Yes, I was a raver long before I started to play music myself. For me, it’s my time to go out, have fun, spend time with my friends and discover new artists. During summer I have more free time, so in general, I pick out 1 or 2 festivals that I attend with a large group of friends. It’s easier because festivals last 2 to 4 days and then I can pick out 1 or 2 days with the line-up that I prefer. This year I was lucky and even did 3 – Tomorrowland, Extrema Outdoor and Awakenings.
What moments would you consider as your breakthrough in your career so far?
Playing at The Dansant. In Belgium, this is really big event. It always has a theme and people go crazy with their costumes. I played 3 times for this organization and every time there were between 2000 and 3000 people attending. After my sets there my social media always explodes.
Looking back at 2019, do you have any special moments, personally or professionally, that made an impact on you?
Professionally I would say starting to play in Germany. I played there the first time in May and now I’m going back for the 6th time. It’s a lot of fun but also lonely when I have to travel by myself.
What do you think makes a great DJ?
Passion for music and energy.
What advice could you give for aspiring DJs?
Take your time to discover your sound and protect your ears!
You are based in Brussels; could you tell us best and worst things about techno scene in this city?
The best thing is that we have so many talents and we can learn a lot from each other. I think the worst thing is that we all want to make it on our own and don’t worked enough with each other. If we could work more together we could maybe have a bigger impact on the scene.
Do you have any plans for 2020 in terms of club events, summer festivals?
This year I will start a podcast that is linked to my event The Underground. Their so many great artists that I would like to invite but I only have 3 or 4 dates a year for my event.
Correct me if I am wrong, you do not produce music. Why not, have you tried?
I tried and noticed that it’s a big challenge. First of all how to master Ableton and second creatively. The last 2 years have been really busy with gigs, so after March I will do fewer gigs and focus on producing music.
You established techno event series called ‘The Underground’, how did this start and what goals you have for it in 2020?
I started to organize The Underground so I could play myself and to meet other artists and people in the scene. That’s how I met Chantal who invites me to Zodiak.
Stay up to date with Lola Jones‘s gigs and latest music news on her Soundcloud and Facebook profiles.