'I always think about what it is I’d wanna hear if I was in the rave' - Exclusive interview with Harriet Jaxxon

Drum and Bass | Wednesday 28th August 2019 | Arren

We spoke with the rising star of drum & bass, Harriet Jaxxon.

If you’ve been to any drum & bass party in the last 12 months, Harriet Jaxxon was probably on the line up. She’s enjoyed a rapid rise in the drum & bass scene and once you watch one of her sets you’ll know exactly why. She’s taken all her experience as a raver and thrown in behind her technical skills on the decks, forging sets of pure dnb madness.

She’s in the midst of one of her biggest summers yet with huge appearances on the European festival circuit, clubs everywhere and even featuring on the mighty Together at Amnesia line ups in Ibiza. We were lucky enough to catch her just after her killer set at MADE Festival in Birmingham for a quick catch up on DJing, her crazy summer and her move into the studio!

You’ve just played at MADE Festival, how was your set?
Set was amazing, it was really hot in there really sweaty but I do find that it means it’s been a good one! The crowd were amazing, really high energy - there were a lot of people packed in there so I really enjoyed it.

MADE Festival is really helping to build the Birmingham scene so it’s great to see the tents packed.
Yeah you can see that. I was here last year as well, I really like playing in Birmingham, there’s a lot of drum & bass heads here.

MADE Festival is just one of many, many, many festival appearances you have this summer, how are coping with travelling around so much?
I think I’m very organised, probably one of my strengths. I’m good at making sure I’ve got enough time. I don’t like to rush around, the worst thing is turning up late to a set, it’s just about the forward planning. It is tiring but when you get such a buzz from it, you sort of ride off the vibes from it and it keeps you going. I’m so far really enjoying it.

Have you had any other highlights this summer?
I did Hideout Festival in Croatia. That was my first time there and it was great. The site is basically on the beach, the weather is amazing and all the stages are outdoors. It was a different experience, it’s like being on a holiday for everyone there as well as a festival so that was really good.

We’ve just come back from your set, it was incredible. We liked the way you mix up the new tunes and the old tunes. It’s nice to hear you still pushing the old skool sound, is that something that’s important to you?
Yeah, with every era of a music genre there’s always those stand out tunes that go on to become anthems and I don’t necessarily think that because they’re older that they should be forgotten about. I like to keep it fresh as well but there are just those tunes that are timeless and for me as a raver, which is what I was before, I would always remember the sets where people would draw for stuff that felt nostalgic. I like to bring that sense of nostalgia and that vibe and you can always do that with an old anthem.

Nice to hear that you’d say you’re a raver than a DJ.
Yeah I started off as a fan, I’ve got a RAM tattoo on my neck from when I was younger, I do think that it helps starting off or at least emesering yourself on that side of the decks. I always think about what it is I’d wanna hear if I was in the rave, so it’s definitely helped.

So you’re a RAM girl, when did you first come across them?
I first heard RAM before I was old enough to go out, probably like 14/15 and what first brought me was the More Than Alot album by Chase & Status which I’m still playing tracks off of! I heard that album and I wasn’t really aware of the label, but saw it was out on RAM and starting going RAM at Matter, RAM at Fabric and then I was just sold really, was a proper fan girl.

That is such a classic album so many tunes!
Yeah, 'Hurt You'! So many bangers! When I put a set together I’m just like is there too many Chase & Status tunes in this? Probably but I don’t care!

What do you think of their newer stuff, they’ve just dropped their RTRN II JUNGLE album…
I don’t know if you’ve seen, they did a documentary about it. They didn’t use any samples, they did it all. It’s all original stuff and I really respect that process. Their integrity as artists really comes through in their music and keeps it all very original, very musical. It can cross boundaries between being played on Radio 1 and being played in a rave. I play a lot of their new tracks from RTRN II JUNGLE, everything they do I’m a fan of really.

So they were on RAM, you were a RAM girl. You’re now one of RAM’s leading DJs… How did this happen?
I first got involved with RAM though being a fan. I was at a lot of the events, I went to ADE one year and they had a RAM event and I just got chatting to someone who worked at the label, sort of made friends with him. I was quite young and I just got to know quite a few of the guys working at the label and it turned into meeting them at the events, backstage chatting to them and then alongside this I was forging my own DJ career myself. So they kinda knew me as a DJ and the label manager called me up about 18 months ago. I was playing a lot of different genres and he asked if I was interested in just playing drum & bass for them and I’d been thinking about just switching to play drum & bass anyway so it came at the perfect time. I just threw myself into and now I wonder why I didn’t just play drum & bass anyway.

Yeah cos you were on tour with Ministry of Sound and that was more on a house and garage?
Yeah I do still play for MoS but I do mostly play drum & bass events now. I took about two and three years out playing house and garage, which I do really enjoy but I have found that you don’t get that same energy and crowd reaction like you do from drum & bass so as a DJ I find it more rewarding to play drum & bass but I do play the odd house set as well.

Was there a pinnacle moment where you said that you need to switch from house and garage and just go for the drum & bass?
Yeah, I got booked to play before Shy FX by a local promoter who I’ve played for quite a few times and I thought it was a great opportunity to play just drum & bass. Where I’d been making myself a house, garage and other genres like hip hop I’d not really had the opportunity to just play drum & bass at an event and I thought you know I’m just gonna do it. I put together a set, downloaded loads, went back to my collection and I just loved it. Then I was like okay, this is for me.

You were speaking earlier this year about moving into the studio, how’s that going?
Yeah, I’ve been in the studio all year working really hard. I’m such a perfectionist as a person so it really takes me a long time to feel like something’s finished which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. But I am pleased to say I’ve just got two tracks back from mastering and I have been playing them in my sets. I haven’t put anything out about them but the reactions I’ve been getting to the tracks when I drop them have been very good, it’s exceeded my expectations so watch this space!

You’ve also just started your Rinse FM radio show, how are you finding that?
Yeah, so I do a show with them every month, it’s all drum & bass. I really enjoy being able to dig a bit deeper and draw on stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily play in a live set. I really like every single sub genre of drum & bass, every style and there are occasions where because I play hyper stuff I’d normally draw for dancefloor stuff in a live setting. But being able to roll out with more soulful, liquid vibes that I don’t normally play out - I’m such a fan of that stuff so it’s so nice to be able to play it.

Do you prefer to play at a festival environment or a club?
I was actually having a conversation with someone about this recently and I love both for different reasons. My most favourite club gig was XOYO for Andy C’s residency and that was truly amazing and a true representation of an underground drum & bass club event. What I was able to play at that show was very different to what I would play at a festival, but at the same time the production levels at a lot of festivals and the stages and the size of the crowds is a totally different buzz. I like being outside in the day and everyone being round. I love being able to do both.

If you could do anything to change the world, what would that be?
Gheez, how deep do i get? I do think for me working in music it’s such a great form of escapism and as I said earlier I did start off as a raver and I know how much it meant to me to be able to go out and listen to music, it was a very euphoric experience and I do still feel that behind the decks and sometimes I wish that everyone could experience it. Sometimes I feel sad that people might never experience that. So just making festivals and events more accessible.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would that be?
There’s a music event called Holy Ship in America, it’s basically a cruise ship and they go from Miami and then the islands. That for me I think would be amazing experience so I’m holding out for that booking! I’ll be straight on that ship!

If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would that be?
I’d have to say prosecco and actually prosecco over champagne. It just tastes nicer, let’s just forget ego’s for a minute and agree that prosecco is nicer.

What are you most in love with right now?
Probably my bed, having lie ins. In fact I’m gonna make this more specific and say the beds at Premier Inn, I’m a big fan of them of all their hotels. They have the best beds, I always sleep really well. It’s cheap aswell!

Is this it for the weekend for you?
Yeah so I’m done for the weekend, start again next Saturday.

So you’re getting a ly in tomorrow!
Yeeees, got a four hour drive home after this. It’s Sunday tomorrow, day of rest.

Anymore events this summer you’re looking forward to?
I’ve got Ibiza twice this summer which is quite a monumental moment for me because I remember going to that. I’ve been going to Together at Amnesia since 2011 and it’s always been a dream to play so I’m quite focused on that. One of the times I was in Ibiza around 12/13 August, and I was playing one of the nights at Ibiza Rocks bar which was great but it’s quite a small bar and the next night I went to Together and I did have a bit of a moment where I thought things are processing now, this time next year I wanna be playing at Amnesia and I got the booking through on the 13th August!

Harriet Jaxxon plays at Wheels & Fins Festival on the 7/8th September - Tickets

Harriet Jaxxon
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