Terminal V Podcast 043 || Lee Ann Roberts
Originally from South Africa techno starlet Lee Ann Roberts has made her way around the world stopping off in the States and is now nestled in the Amsterdam scene. Having been a part of the touring for some time now she is just at home in a sweaty club as she is on the stages of the finest festivals. Either way she has the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand in no time at all. Forward thinking yet uncompromising in her tough style Lee Ann takes it all in her stride.
With more strings to her bow than an orchestra she also helms the NowNow record label and has already welcomed a slew of top artists to the fold. Her next banging release ‘March of the White Fireflies’ is dropping shortly and will feature a remix from none other than our man Fraz.ier and is already doing the rounds with the top names. It is however the DJ booth that Lee Ann thrives and we now present a snapshot of her in full club flow by way of our latest podcast edition…
Thanks for joining us Lee Ann has the start to your year been so far?
Hey guys, thanks so much for having me. The start to the year has been great so far…it started with some much-needed down time snowboarding. Then I signed with my new agency Apelago which I’m super excited about. It was one of my main goals for 2021 so I am really chuffed. Also, had some great festival announcements and a release. All my gigs for Jan were cancelled and rescheduled so I have just been in the studio working on new music which makes me happy.
Do you have any resolutions or big goals to achieve in 2022?
Yes, I always set these at the beginning of the year. I am always striving to be better, learning, growing and evolving in my personal life and in my career. My biggest resolution is to be more kind to myself and healthy as last year I got into a bit of a rut where I would wake up and be in the studio all day forgetting to eat and exercise…it became like a weird addiction which wasn’t healthy but yet to say i got loads done haha. Moderation is key and I have already started the year in a better routine, I actually just came back from a run 🙂
I have an amazing team now and I’m so ready for this year and whatever it may bring. But right now, I’m living in the moment and appreciating all that is happening now. I have many dreams and goals which I am working towards and the ways to achieve these for me is persistence, passion and determination.
Going back to your South Africa roots, SA isn’t immediately known for its techno scene, how did you find your way into the genre? What sort of gigs / sound were you playing in the beginning?
I was actually a big rock n roll/punk fan at first, that’s how it started for me then went through a psy trance and house phase then techno, I think I just evolved…I do however still love these genres outside of techno. In the beginning, I actually started DJing in LA before SA so I was playing warehouse parties downtown, Venice and also a residency at Avalon Hollywood. My sound was more minimal techno back then then evolved into the harder techno when I started playing warehouse parties.
What took you to LA when you moved there?
I had signed a 3-year contract with Wilhelmina Models but after a year in I found myself putting all my energy into my first love…music. So, I ended up following through with studying Ableton twice haha which I had been wanting to do for ages but my travels didn’t allow it and then venturing into the LA techno music scene.
You studied production under jungle queen DJ Rap, have you been able to adapt any part of her sound to your own?
I did indeed, not really, I have found my own unique sound but her ways of working I did apply in a few areas.
Having now relocated to Amsterdam you have already played at some amazing parties, this is a hard question but do you have a favourite place to play?
Every place is unique in their own way, the crowds are different and I love them all for different reasons.
We have read in a previous interview that you live by the mantra “never a failure, always a lesson”, what is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
Yeah…I actually have this tattooed on me. It would be to never stop learning and maintain a healthy work life balance.
Your label NowNow is already five releases deep, what was the inspiration for setting up the label in the first place? What labels and artists have you taken influences from?
I wanted to create something of my own, to have complete artistic control. Having my own vinyl imprint is special for me. I am trying to create something unique, not only with my own music but am also signing some diverse and exciting new artists to the label. The name is actually a South Africa phrase we use as an indication of time to say I’m coming now now means I’m coming soon, a movement that allows you to travel without actually going anywhere, to be in that moment where the music takes you. I am influenced personally by many labels and artists, the artists I choose for the label are artists that inspire me but for NowNow this was something purely unique and something I created from within.
You have already had some huge artists appear on your label, what do you have coming up next?
Yes, it really was a great 2021 for us having so many amazing artists on board. Up next, we have ‘March Of The White Fireflies’ In March which will; be vinyl and digital. A single release with 3 remixes which include Frazi.er, Charlie Sparks and Jacidorex. Then a couple of Artists EP’s, a vinyl VA, a vinyl remix package and a few single releases with remixers. The schedule for this year looks wonderful. Super happy to be able to give artists a platform to showcase their music and for me to collaborate with artists who inspire me. Down the line, we will start to create NowNow events, merch and work on some other exciting projects we have in the pipeline.
How did you manage your creative process during 2021 with the obvious restrictions?
I spent most of the time in the studio working on music and on the label which kept me busy so it kind of worked out for me.
Aside from music you are also an active conservationist tell us more about your work with Music Against Animal Cruelty?
I have been working with different organisations for a long time now. With MAAC I had some charity shows cancelled due to the pandemic but am now working very closely with the team in regards to their post COVID initiatives.
Can you sum up your mix in a few sentences please? Perhaps thought process when planning and recording the mix, emotions that you try to convey, music included.
I wanted to bring a high energy mixed with old and new flavours to keep it interesting and fresh. I also included some unreleased tracks which will be releasing on NowNow this year. I’m all about energy especially after this pandemic, so there is a lot of bounce and heavy grooves but still quite playful which I think sums me up 🙂 I had so much fun putting this mix together, I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.
Interview by Stu Todd