Leeds DJ Laura Jones. Image: Rkelly Photography

After graduating from the University of Leeds with a degree in Management and Spanish, she and a friend headed to the Balearic Island for “a supposedly festive weekend”. The two enjoyed it so much that they decided to stay longer and after a brief return to Leeds they managed to get seasonal PR jobs.

“I came back from there and decided to learn how to DJ, so I packed myself on a crash course at Point Blank Music College in Sheffield,” Jones recalls.

“It’s funny because I had several friends who hung up and whom I met through clubbing. They offered to teach me to show me the tricks and I didn’t want them to do it. I wanted to go out and do it alone. I didn’t want to have someone else’s time or to throw someone else out, so I did it myself. “

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Leeds DJ Laura Jones. Image: Rkelly Photography

Jones was to spend several years juggling a marketing job while “doing the music in the background.”

Her DJ inspirations, she says, are many.

“I’ve had a lot of inspirations over the years, some from my first years in Ibiza and others along the way. One DJ whose vinyl I’ve collected from the start and who has played some of the best DJ sets I’ve ever heard to date is Ricardo Villalobos. He and Fabric-based Craig Richards probably have the first two positions for me. They’re both very eclectic in their play, combining many different types of electronic music into a seamless mix, and they have a sense of showmanship while educating the audience. They entertain and train at the same time, which I find very important as a DJ.

“When you hear them play b2b for extended sets in Room 1 at Fabric, it often doesn’t get any better.”

Leeds DJ Laura Jones. Image: Rkelly Photography

Jones received her first residency – on a night called Louche at the Mint Club in Leeds – but her young career was to take a heavy blow when she was diagnosed with a serious and incurable eye disease, Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, which affects her central eyesight, at the age of 25 .

“I got severe migraines at work. At the time, I thought it was a tell-tale sign that you needed glasses, ”she says. “So I went for an annual check-up, they noticed an irregularity on the back of both eyes, and referred me to St. George’s Eye Hospital. I was seen and they told me to monitor it to see if it was progressive or stable. When I told my parents that this would do the kibosh. They kindly paid me to go privately to get to the bottom of the matter in case it was something serious, which later turned out. “

“Two weeks later I was seen at Nuffield Hospital in Leeds, they did various tests and I was told pretty much the day I went blind. I have a terrible memory, but I remember it like it was yesterday. They say to suppress the bad things, but it really turned my world upside down. I didn’t expect that at all. “

Upon diagnosis, Jones admits that she had “severe depression” and feared that her DJ career was over. “Everything took a back seat for a while,” she says. Fortunately, support came from her sister, who she lived with in Meanwood, and her friend Gavin Herlihy, a fellow DJ who had moved to Leeds from Berlin and told Jones not to give up on her dreams.

A turning point came in Glastonbury in 2010. “I remember meeting Stevie Wonder at the [festival’s] 40th birthday and it sounds cheesy, but I remember crying really positive tears. I was standing on the top of the hill with some of my friends and looking at him on the big screen and it was a really powerful moment where I consciously had the thought, “If he can, I can do it”. Then I turned a corner. Gavin has withdrawn from Berlin, we have bundled all our resources in the studio. It was really helpful because I had previously taught myself how to produce on a small MacBook with Logic Pro that I bought on eBay, considerably from where I was before. “

In the six years since then, there has been no stopping Jones. She has been playing all over the world – the day after our conversation, the 33-year-old was supposed to be flying to gigs in France and Italy – and she has also founded her own record label Sensoramic.

The orange NHS glasses she wears to protect her eyes from light have become her trademark. She also has wraparound sunglasses with dark space lenses developed by NASA.

“I can not help it [Stargardt’s] besides eating well, sleeping well, exercising, so I have to at least try to do the other things that I’m supposed to do – stay away from UV, ”she says. “The orange glasses come from the hospital, they keep out blue light, which is the harmful light spectrum of the rainbow.”

Jones admits that on a practical level she had to “continuously” adjust to her visual impairment, but technologies like backlit screens have helped. “It wasn’t without its challenges, but there are ways and means,” she says. “One thing I’ve found most useful is keeping your mind positive. It was a roller coaster ride, but it also resulted in a lot of positive things. It’s definitely character building and made me a better person in so many ways I think. “

Herlihy now runs Jones and delivered the first release for her new vinyl-only label under the pseudonym Karousel.

“He did this track and I fell in love with him straight away,” says Jones. “I said, ‘I have to have this track.’ He said, ‘What for? You don’t publish other people’s music. ‘ I said, ‘I am now.’ I pretty much told him to give me the track, he has no choice. That was when the label was reborn for other people’s music as well. “

Jones says she doesn’t limit herself to a “strict music policy” for Sensoramic. “I would be wrong to do this because I like so many different styles. I like a diverse genre of music, so I’ll make the label out of everything I really like, things that stand out. “

The second release was her own EP Cohesion. “The next release is going to be from a New York minimalist producer named Kamren Sadeghi who is actually part of an art installation soundwalk and just created these beautiful tracks that I heard and got. I have a really cool remix for that too. “

The artwork for Sensoramic was created by Sarah Sense. “She’s a Native American, but she lives in Bristol,” explains Jones. “I’ve always had an affinity for Native American arts and crafts and jewelry, and when I met her it couldn’t have been more perfect. She’s a pretty open-minded artist who likes to have her teeth on a lot of different things. She had already licensed her work for book covers, so she liked the idea of ​​being on the front of a series of vinyls. “

As for the future of club culture with so many other distractions, Jones says, “Virtual reality looks like it’s revolutionizing live entertainment. Just as it will change the way we experience live sporting events, it will also change the way we experience dance music.

“The live mix audience is already great, so imagine what it will be like when organizers will broadcast their events using VR technology in the near future. Even if you are unable to attend one of your favorite DJs who play a club in places as far away as Brazil or Australia, for example, you can still experience it from the comfort of your own home.

“At first I wasn’t sure what to think of it as it encourages laziness and nothing can replace the live experience of being in the club itself, meeting people, etc. But it globalizes the world of dance music even further and that can only be “a good thing.”

Laura Jones is on New Year’s Eve for Back to Basics in the church. Also on the bill are Miguel Campbell, Ralph Lawson and Dave Beer from Basics. The party goes from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The Chapel will feature a special showcase from Constant Sound, the label run by two of Basics’ most exciting and youngest residents, Burnski and Jon Woodall. It includes Jones’ set and Mosaic founder Steve O’Sullivan.

Visit www.facebook.com/churchleeds/ for details or http://bit.ly/2gWRX4r for tickets

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