As Hed Kandi’s resident saxophonist, Lovely Laura, aka Laura Fowles is well-known around the world for her weekly onstage jams at Es Paradis and in clubs across the globe, however the professionally trained musician and year-round Ibiza dweller actually has many more strings to her bow than just her clubbing accolades. We caught up with Laura to get the lowdown on her history with the island, her many other musical projects and also the gossip on working with her fiancé, Hed Kandi’s resident DJ Ben Santiago (read Ben’s interview here). Laura and Ben perform together at White Ibiza’s Summer Launch Party this Thursday – listen to a podcast of the duo performing together below!
How did you become involved in the dance music scene?
It all happened with a chance conversation I had in a college bar with this saxophonist who needed another sax player to cover a regular gig he had set up in Leeds – with a DJ. I had never heard of anything like this so went along one night to check it out. I was blown away. He was simply improvising to the tracks that the DJ was playing; he had no idea what track was coming on next and between him and the DJ they were making some great sounds. The DJ was playing all from vinyl an eclectic mix of quality soulful grooves through to proper old school house with some cool jazz thrown in – I was in heaven and needless to say took over the gig without much persuasion!
Now you’re one of the most well-known saxophonists in the business! How did you get involved with Hed Kandi?
Within a few weeks I got asked to play in other bars and clubs around the north of England, leading me eventually to become Hed Kandi’s original resident saxophonist. This introduced me to a whole new world of music that I had never experienced before and I loved it! The satisfying thrill of taking house tracks to another level with playing the sax live to an eager, house loving crowd is incredible. When the DJ is working with you and the music sits right it’s the best feeling ever, totally euphoric.
When did you first come to Ibiza?
I first came to Ibiza in the year 2000 with a friend called Pav. He was Manumission’s resident percussionist and persuaded me to come and play at one of their gigs. He was always talking about this island and the parties he played, and in the end I suppose my curiosity got the better of me. I’ve never forgotten climbing up onto the podium with Pav in Privilege and looking down to this sea of heads – to say I s**t myself would be an understatement. This place was huge and this party was undoubtedly the party of all parties – again I had been introduced to another world.
Now you live here all year round, what drew you back?
Hed Kandi flew me in for their closing party in 2005 and since them I have been coming every year – not only just for the parties. In 2008 I met my amazing fiance Ben Santiago! He was DJing in Base Bar and I happened to stumble past for a drink with some friends. For me it was def love at first sight and since then we have bought a house here on the island and are currently planning our wedding.
What is it about the island that is so special to you today?
I believe it helps make your dreams come true, I came here searching for something more fulfilling in my life and the island certainly showed me the way. I also know I am not alone in feeling this. There is undoubtedly an amazing presence here that is impossible not to feel. Every time I fly back over the island from a trip away, I feel this huge wave of relief and completeness come over me, an amazing feeling that I’ve returned home.
Where can are people find you this summer?
I actually have only one residency this summer for Hed Kandi at Es Paradis on Saturday nights. I also have some other private and corporate gigs but altogether this is a perfect balance for me. I would like to enjoy the island this summer and just work as much as I need to. I’ve had a crazy busy winter, so Ben and I could do with some ‘our’ time.
How does it work, playing with your fiance? Is it impromptu or something you plan ahead?
I love it! Everything is pretty much impromptu but then that is the nature of the job. We can’t really plan a set until we’re there on the dance floor and letting the crowd take us where they want to go. It’s so much fun as it’s never predictable. What a club in Poland would like could be nothing like what they might want in China, it certainly keeps me on my toes… And regarding working with my fiance, it’s great. There have been many times when I’ve been touring somewhere and wished Ben was there to experience it with me and now he can.
Best thing about playing to audiences in Ibiza?
I think because there is such a wonderful hotpot of different cultures in one magical place, all here for one thing, to enjoy the music and have the best party of their lives. Not forgetting also it’s a holiday island with a massive hedonistic history – who wouldn’t come here and let their hair down, it’s magnetically addictive!
Do you get to get out and see a lot of the other clubs in Ibiza?
To be honest, I don’t unless there is someone really special who I know I would love to see. I probably shouldn’t admit this but when I get a night off the last place I want to visit is a club. Maybe I’ll go out a bit more this summer as I have a nice easy summer ahead… no excuse now is there?
Do you have any island secrets, favourite places to share?
Our roof terrace for a sunset cuppa – though not sure I want to share that place with many people! Ben and I also have a lovely picnic spot near the top of Sa Talaia – it’s actually where he gave me my engagement ring. You can see all the way from Es Vedra to the airport and it’s so peaceful. You just have to watch for the lizards that like to nibble your toes!
Tell us about the other musical projects you’re involved with…
I also write, sing and play with a great jazz band back in England, with an album due out soon. On top of this I’m currently working on Hed Kandi‘s first unplugged album due out later this year. I’m quite excited about this as I’ve been working with a great producer called Tyrrell and we have basically taken well-known tracks from the likes of Deadmau5, MGMT through to Ron Carroll and re-recorded them in a live lounge, acoustic style. I’ve also been collaborating with the legendary producer Robin Millar (Sade, Everything But the Girl) writing some really inspiring music together. I’m looking forward to returning back to his studio to continue where we left off…
Why do you think Ibiza is such a haven for creative people?
I think Ibiza encourages and allows creative people to bring out their innermost talents and abilities. Certainly for the music industry and especially electronic music, it is a haven for producers. Every summer there are always so many new sounds, tracks, vibes spinning around the island – as a musician you can’t help but be inspired and musically driven. I have a dream life with a dream job and a dream man… I am one very happy, lucky and exceedingly grateful lady.