Crossover rebel: Surging house producer Jamie Jones has become the draw

Jones jam: House producer Jamie Jones learned his dance music from Pete Tong on BBC Radio 1.
Photo: Jessica Milan

While some competitors remain enslaved to commercial EDM, Marquee continues its house-afterhours experiment with in-demand underground hero­ and Crosstown Rebels breakout Jamie Jones, who signed up for not one, but two 2014 gigs at the Cosmo danceteria.

Did you learn to play to tourists and similarly fickle crowds in Ibiza, and do you expect to employ that intuition in Vegas? I had been DJing before I was producing, [playing] clubs in London. Back in those days, I wasn’t booked because I was a certain DJ, but to just play the music for the clubs. It doesn’t help you become a better DJ—it’s all about making those people in the club have the best night possible. The first few times I played in Space [in Ibiza], no one knew who I was, but it’s finding a good balance of reading the crowd and making the people dancing have a good time, [and] also never musically compromising or playing what isn’t in your record collection.

What was your earliest experience with house music? Did it blow you away at first or did you warm up to it and then make it part of your life? When I was 11 years old, which was like ’91, house music was on the pop charts—that’s when electronic music had its first explosion. I instantly took a liking to [it], and then I got into hardcore drum ’n’ bass. One of the things that got me into that was a commercial for a compilation called Jungle Mania 2, and I remember buying the double-tape pack. … When I got my first turntables when I was 15, the first record I bought was “Get Up (Everybody)” by Byron Stingily; it was a big New York house record back then.

Sounds like, despite growing up in an isolated part of North Wales, you had exposure to American house and techno. How did you usually discover music? The main thing was [DJ] Pete Tong. Back where I lived, you could only get [a local] radio station and Radio 1, and I listened to Pete’s show every Friday night, and that was the first time I heard [“Get Up”]. … Pete Tong taught me, from hardcore drum ’n’ bass to house music.

When you produce tracks, do you typically start with anything specific, like a beat or bassline? Or does it differ every time? Most tracks vary. I usually start with a drum beat, maybe something very simple on a Roland TR-909 drum machine if I’m in the studio. Then I start playing with the keyboards; they usually end up [producing] weird textures. From those, I’ll be looking for bass, build the drums … then I’ll make the track up until I have as many things as possible, usually too many, and then I stitch it all up, if that makes sense!

Interesting. You’ve said you’re most known for your basslines, and so I was expecting you to say you normally start there. It depends. In the last year, I’ve been working more on drums than bass because I became [known] for my basslines. I’m the kind of person always looking to push things forward—my sound, the sound around me. I don’t know want to be known for being a one-trick pony, so now I’m trying to make tracks that sound great with the drums.

You play lots of festivals. Have you noticed a crossover of the indie and rock kids in your fanbase? People have been into me for not just house and techno, but disco, and so [they] tend to vary. ... And I think, like you said, some are indie kids. I do lots of remixes and re-edits of indie music, like The xx and Disclosure … I think I sort of cross the range of what people like.

Jamie Jones With Brett Rubin. February 15, doors at 2 a.m. for late-night entry, $20. Marquee, 333-9000.

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