Lauren Lane Talks Her "Breakthrough Year" & NYC Versus LA
Carving out her space as part of an elite tier of DJ-producers currently shifting dance music in the right direction is Lauren Lane. Since the arrival of her 2014 debut EP, Cool Kids, the rising LA-based artist is proof that creating a signature, one-of-a-kind sound is possible amidst the sea of producers in the industry. Last year’s release of her Diary Of A Madwoman EP was only further proof of Lauren’s prowess as one of the finest gems in the electronic music circuit. In addition to throwing down behind the decks and producing some of the dopest house tunes we’ve ever heard, she can now add eyewear designer to her rolodex of achievements.
Lauren is presently doubling as a DJ and fashionista in the stunning isle of Ibiza for the summer. You can catch her at a string of North American dates, including Burning Man, later this month and into the fall. She’s also planning to drop new music by the end of the summer. MILK.XYZ sat down with Lauren to get the lowdown on her thrilling experience in Ibiza, career beginnings, and super savvy fashion sense (she’s not your average DJ clad in black); peep the full interview (and the “Diary of a Madwoman” track) below, and stay tuned later this month for her curated Friday playlist.
I was struck by a quote that you said in a past interview. You mentioned that you’re very inspired by your environment and actual places that you DJ. So, how have places like Ibiza and New York shaped who you are as an artist?
Well, New York was where I started DJing and I lived. There was always so much going on. There’s around-the-clock entertainment. There was definitely a sound of New York. I think that there’s a lot of resident DJs and it was a really tight-knit community. There were DJs at that time that definitely inspired me like with house music and more like drum-y tribal stuff. It has four seasons too. You get the winter when it’s cold and everyone just stays inside and doesn’t really want to leave the party. Then, you have the summer vibe and everyone wants to be outside.
Then, in Ibiza there’s people from all over the world. So, you get a lot of different opinions, different cultural backgrounds [and] you’re in this beautiful place. It’s beautiful every single day, so it kind of inspires you too. I think that the first time I came here I realized I wanted to do this (DJ) for the rest of my life. Here, it’s not just about nightlife and clubs—which is a big part for DJs—but it’s just inspiring to work with naturally beautiful places in the world. Even the radio here, FM radio—you can listen to the radio all day long and hear amazing music; which most places in the world—especially the US—that’s not the case anymore especially if you want more underground dance music or techno or electro as well. It’s like completely normal here though. It’s always on and always inspiring. It’s awesome. They represent the sound of the island which you’ll hear at the actual nightclub. It’s not commercial music at all. So, as a DJ it’s really inspiring because you’re completely inundated 24/7—driving in your car, chilling at home or going out at night. You’re always listening to amazing music.
That’s one thing I did not know about that location is that they have a radio station that plays underground music like that. So, that’s really cool.
There’s four or five different ones.
Wow! Yeah, that’s awesome. I know that you moved to New York City when you were 18 and in a sense you grew up musically as an artist there. How has your move from New York to LA helped you to evolve personally?
Well, in New York I was learning to DJ and I became kind of a local DJ. I feel like when I first played, I was actually working at deejaying. I took any opportunity I could. Luckily, the main promoter at the time there in New York, Rob Fernandez—who unfortunately passed away—helped me get started. He was a New York legend.
Then, moving to LA I felt like I had learned a lot and was ready to help other people. When I first moved there, EDM and commercial music were very, very popular. I think over the last four or five years, the taste of people there has evolved a lot. I was happy to be able to bring my musical knowledge there and kind of let people hear more house, deep house [and] tech house. Whereas, people had only been exposed to more commercially dance music.
It’s such a different scene—LA versus New York. How have you been able to adjust to that new scene there?
I kind of have grown as an artist because the scene has grown there. So, its’ been a nice balance. I had a residency at Sound when I first moved there. I was still an opening DJ. I feel like I’ve grown up with the scene there. There’s been a lot of cool things going on there for many years. In no way do I think that when I moved there it was like the dawn of something new, but from what I’ve observed it’s been through many shifts. You can go to big festivals on the West Coast now and you can see it where five years ago if I played a stage, it would be a small stage. There wouldn’t be as many people there. Now the amount of people that are actually coming here to hear my music. They like the way I play and the way my peers play.
Yeah, it definitely has grown. In terms of timing, I feel like timing has played a major part in your career as well. Do you feel the same way? How do you feel about that?
I feel like everything happens for a reason. I think that it comes in a way that it’s supposed to and when you’re ready for it—when it’s your time. Some people just dive in when they’re not ready. So, I think that I’m happy with the times in my career because I feel like I got to kind of feel out some of the music I love, feel out my studio style, play music and see how people react to it, toured around the US and then now touring Europe; and I think that every part of the way has built the experience. If it had gone any faster, I don’t know…maybe it would have been a disaster! [Laughs] I like to have fun and I think that’s a big part of the job. You have to learn how to balance that and I think that’s part of growing up.
You kind of touched on something I planned to ask you in regards to your creative process. Has it remained the same, or do you feel like you’ve progressed musically in your process? If so, in what ways?
I’ve stayed pretty much the same when it comes to looking at music. I kind of go with my gut when I hear something I like. I’m never just going through one genre. I’m always looking for different styles. I don’t plan my sets completely. If I’m playing a day party or a sunset party, I’m gonna play a little different than if I’m playing nighttime or 2 AM. I’ve always kind of done that which I’ve collected the music I love, then when it’s time for that gig, go into the music I’ve found. I try to take as much away as I can from when I hear other people play, like, “Oh that sounds really cool.” Even music that I grew up listening to I stay inspired by that. I always like to listen to ‘90s hip hop or ‘80s classic rock when I’m not DJing just to give my ears a break. Yeah, a lot of that music has inspired me. In the studio, I work better when I have a few days at a time to devote to that. When you’re on the road it’s a little bit harder to balance it. I find that works pretty well for me. I will be releasing more music than I ever had, so I may have to alter a little bit. I’ll be at a studio in Ibiza this summer which is going to be very helpful because through the summers I haven’t really had a proper studio to work in. So, hopefully there will be more music done by the end of the summer.
Yay! I was curious about that. I’m in love with Diary Of A Madwoman. You killed it.
[Laughs] Thank you!
I’m eager to hear what you have next. Changing the convo a bit, a little birdy told me that you’re working on an eyewear line. Is that true?
Yes, it is. I’m going to sell it in a few places here in Ibiza. I kind of did it as an experiment. I’ve always loved sunglasses and I had an idea to make eyewear that was two or three styles in one because there’s an extra clip and possibly another clip that changes the whole look of it. So, there’s a lens with a frame and one clip comes with it and another clip—basically you have three pairs on sunglasses in one. I’m going to keep working on that idea more. I want to see how people react to this. It’s launching in a couple of weeks and I’m really excited about it.
Very cool. So, I checked out your Instagram. You have great style! How have your travels inspired some of your looks?
I love to be influenced by the places that I go. My style will change a little bit from the places that I’m in. So, when I’m in New York obviously I’m going to look a little edgy and you have winter clothes and cool stuff like that. If I’m in Ibiza, I will look a little more Bohemian and colorful. Same with Mexico. In LA, it’s super casual, comfy, laidback and cool. I went to a hippie market here in Ibiza today and looked around for some stuff for Burning Man and I bought a few handmade things that people make here. I love to collect things from my travels. I always keep a core personal style, but I do like to buy from the actual places I go [and] support local designers.
Well, props to you for not being the standard DJ that wears black all of the time.
[Laughs] I’ve been through that phase. I think it’s partially the guys that are DJs. They don’t get to wash that much and they don’t feel like matching outfits together. [Laughs]
Congratulations on landing “Best Breakthrough DJ” through DJ Mag. That is huge!
Thank you. I was surprised.
Did you know you were nominated?
Well, I knew I was nominated because they told me. There’s a lot of other amazing artists that were nominated. Then, when they (DJ Mag) called me and told me I was in the top two…I was so shocked, surprised and honored. Then, they let me know a couple of days later that I did win. It felt really good because I knew it was real and the people that voted for me I’m really thankful to them. To know that it happened naturally, it feels really special. I worked pretty hard for a while to get to the point where I am. Some people were like, “How are you breakthrough? You’ve been DJing for a while.” “Breakthrough” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a newcomer. It means that you had a breakthrough year which I’ve been working to this point for a while, so it feels really good.
Images courtesy of Lauren Lane
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