Articles Interviews

Isolation, Inspiration & Ibiza | An Interview with DJ Cami Jones

Exploring the boundaries of house and techno, Cami Jones is known for her sexy lyrics, pulsing basslines and driving grooves. A residency in Octan Ibiza and Tantra Ibiza has seen her become well known for taking audiences on a late night trip from the invigorating to the sublime, such is her mastery at the deck. 

Back in Adelaide, Australia due to COVID-19 quarantining, I managed to catch up with her for a chat about her music, Ibiza and the next stage for her brand of experience events, A Rhythm Trip.

Brendan: So, first things first, how’s lockdown been going for you?

Cami: Musically it’s been great, I’ve been focusing on a lot of production and putting more effort and time into radio shows like the promotion of them and stuff. Radio Metro’s doing their live stream so that’s been great. 

It’s given me a lot more time to focus on things that I wouldn’t usually have as much time to focus on, so right now I’d be starting the season in Ibiza, I’ve got my residencies over there – I’m playing most nights so I’d have to focus on that and being ready and preparing for that. 

Over here, the only time I’m playing at the moment is the Radio Metro live stream and the radio show – the Radio Metro show comes out every Sunday, and then I have my Ibiza Live Radio one as well which is every first Wednesday of the month. 

There’s organizing those two, but then the live stream too. I’ve been trying to find the best way for that to be as interactive as possible, there’s so many live streams these days! So at the moment it’s just thinking about that each week – making sure my music is good for that, i’m excited about what i’m gonna play, and to get the set up better each week. 

B: When you’re getting your music ready, how do you research your tracks, are you a Youtube digger, Bandcamp streams or Soundcloud?

C: Inspiration probably comes from a lot of different places for me, most of them come out of just sitting down and jamming. Sometimes I use samples from sample packs, some of them I make myself, I guess I just try to sit and get in the zone and once I’m in the zone it just flows out naturally. 

Sometimes I will be inspired – lately it’s been targeting certain sounds of labels, it doesn’t always go in that direction but at least it gives me a sound to strive for that day.

I always do my own lyrics and vocals, it just ends up being based off of that – it’ll just be doing something out of day to day life, hearing something and going ‘That’ll make a great vocal’.

B: Hearing a phrase and just be ‘Ooh i’ll write that one down”?

C: Yeah, like I’ll be watching Netflix or something and hear something and be like oooh that’s cool, that’d be sick on the dancefloor! 

It’s so much easier, so much easier doing it yourself, the amount of friends I’ve had dealing with copyright issues because of samples they’ve used. Not just vocal samples but little riffs and stuff too, I don’t sample other tracks at all, having seen all the headaches it’s given to people around me, and even worse the outcome when they can’t clear the samples and the song gets shelved. 

Don’t get me wrong it’s great to sample other people, but there’s so many other people doing that, I guarantee the top ten house or techno tracks on beatport have people using well known samples of RnB tracks – it’s quite a thing nowadays, I try and keep it different.

There’s definitely times where it could have been cool, I’ve kept away from it since seeing how much the market is saturated with it, and I think it’s my point of difference that everything I’m doing is original. It would have been cool to go down that path, but it’s important to have your own sound, and if your sound doesn’t include it, there’s no point in including it because everyone else is.

B:Does that mean you can surprise people in a set? In your live stream you dropped in (a remix of) Marie Davidson’s Work It, which really kicked it up a notch, so by being original can you change the tone of a room by throwing in something people recognise?

C: Absolutely, I mean you also have that hope that you’ll play a track of your own that people will go “What’s this?” and it’s the best feeling when you do that and it’s one of your own songs and people say “Can i have it, can I listen to it?”

The week before I played a track that I had just finished the day before, my friend was like, “what was that track you played with the french vocal”, and I was like “This one?” and I played it to her, and she was like “OMG I love that track, where can I listen to it?”. 

In Ibiza, there are always people like “Can i have that track, what did you just play?” I think because it’s such a musically focussed place, there’s a lot of party people, but a lot of music aficionados and DJs who ask you what you’re playing as well.

B: As you started to develop your own style, which artists or DJs did you look up to? And who among your peers do you admire right now?

I guess people who probably shaped my sound are Claude VonStroke and many of the other Dirtybird DJs like Kill Frenzy. I took a lot of the cheeky vocal aspects from when I played a lot of his records when I first got started. I love the Dirtybird idea that you can have quirky tracks or sounds and still be successful, having those weapons where things sound a little bit weird but if you play them at the right time everyone just goes nuts and that’s the best feeling. 

Green Velvet, his vocals as well, I saw him in Stereosonic in Melbourne one year, and I saw him do La La Land live into his headphones, that was really cool – that really inspired me to do something similar to that in the future. He was always one of my favourite producers and DJs, so definitely a big inspiration.

DJ Assault, with his very sexual lyrics [laughs]. But nowadays, my friend Maxinne  – she’s doing really really well, and she inspires me a lot because her work ethic is amazing. She’s a super talented DJ and producer and I look up to her a lot.

There’s a lot of my friends doing things their own way and doing them well, and I really respect that – people flourishing in their own individuality.

B: Interesting that you’ve mentioned DJ Assault, your lyrics can verge on the cheeky as well! Did that develop because of the late night vibes when you play, or was it always a part of your style?

C: It’s all me I think [laughs]. Well what’s fun to write about? Sex, drugs and rock n roll right? I suppose I get a lot of inspiration from living in Ibiza, and I guess just life in general and write from there. 

I just always loved that kind of stuff from when I was a teenager, a friend of mine at school and I would always be cheeky with that kind of stuff. At first I was a bit shy about it but then it was like what’s the big deal? If I get inspired about that kind of thing then I’m going to write about it. 

I think it’s good just to be free, why associate shame with stuff that’s natural, – one of my mottos in life is, I think Kate Moss said it,  ‘Why the fuck can’t I have fun all the time?’ If I can have that mentality all the time, then why not let it be? That goes for my music as well, if I can make it fun or cheeky or naughty or that can make someone smile that’s a good thing.

B: So you recently acquired a TR8S that arrived recently, are you now looking into a more hardware based sound?

C: So in Ibiza we have Moog Sub 37, so I was using that a lot for my synths and quirky sounds, for drums I’d just use samples. Sound design is something that’s really interesting to me but I’m not a perfectionist – I get bored really easily, so if i’m spending that long on one kick drum –  I’d rather spend more time on the lyrics or sounds or other things.

Before I was using the Sub 37 I was using Massive and the native synths in Ableton, and now, the last 5 or 6 tracks I’ve used the TB3, which has been fun to play with because you can make some fun synth lines, and now with the TR8S I can make my own drum patterns and samples. 

It’s exciting to have these synthesizers, playing around with the Moog can be overwhelming as there is so much you can do with it! The TB3 is smaller, still powerful but there’s less options and I feel that restriction is the mother of creativity, which can be quite useful, especially if you get distracted by things easily, which I do!

B: So you’ve created this brand, A Rhythm Trip, can you tell me some more about it?

C: So I started it in Ibiza about four years ago doing underground events. We started off in this dark little nightclub bar in Dalt Vila, it was literally underground inside the castle,  which is around 3000 years old. We were playing melodic to hard techno and it was great we had free reign with the music so we could play whatever we wanted.  

I wanted to do something different, something where we could kind of play as DJs what we wanted to play, rather than what we had to play and just create a bit of an experience rather than have it just about the music. 

You do have events like that like Elrow, but they don’t necessarily concentrate on the music as a journey –  for me it was more about a holistic experience, like you’re literally taking A Rhythm Trip, exploring all of your senses. 

Since the beginning we’ve had things like some sort of scent going through the venue, and different ones in each corner so one room smells like cinnamon, another will smell like strawberry- something to trigger your senses. At one of the venues, Tantra, we have special cocktails that change flavour as you drink them. We’ve been into trippy visuals and interactive games or art, performers, and basically the whole concept was taking a trip and exploring your senses rather than being just another event. 

Last year we did a boat party, that was a sunset trip, we did that in conjunction with Eat the Beat out of Melbourne, that was a really cool event, a really big sunset vibe, but then we also did this interactive thing where we had big floaties around the boat you could relax in. The big aim of it is to make you be in the moment and experience that moment and always remember that moment as an experience in itself.

We also have A Rhythm Trip radio, which is monthly on Ibiza Live Radio, so at the moment I’m in the thought process of expanding all of that, obviously with all this time on our hands – I can’t say too much more, but there will hopefully be more stuff soon.

B: Our last question – If you had to listen to one song on repeat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

C: ooh I’ll need a moment to think about this. [Pause] The one that comes to mind the most, the one that’s really touched me, oh this is going to sound super lame [laughs], and at times it even made me cry, because it just hit that point in my soul, is a song call Epika by Guy Mantzur and Roy Rosenfeld.

For me it’s a very beautiful song, a song I never get sick of. I’ve got a lot of beautiful memories associated with that song. No matter how many times I’ve heard it or played it, I’ve never skipped through it – every time I listen to it I find a new nuance in it because there’s so many different layers, it’s a real journey of a song, and the way that it builds is just stunning.

Hear Cami Jones every Saturday night (Australian) time on the Radio Metro Aus live stream, as well as every Sunday night on air. Listen to her mixes for A Rhythm Trip and as herself on Soundcloud, Mixcloud and follow her on Instagram.

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