Some things are match made in heaven: vinegar and chips, strobe lights and smoke machines, Hall & Oates and house music and sax. To celebrate the pairing of two of our favourite things in music, Hed Kandi have produced a new compilation - Summer of Sax, which collects all the best pairings of 4/4 beats and sax solos.
One person who knows a thing or two about house and sax is the Lovely Laura. Laura is Hed Kandi's resident Saxophonist at Es Paradis and has been bringing her party tunes to The White Isle for years. Hed Kandi's Helena Murphy sat down with the White Isle's most glamorous saxophonist to talk about her career, the White Isle and touring with Dolche & Gabbana.
Tell us a little about your musical history and background.
Laura: I feel I’ve been listening to jazz from birth! It was the music my parents loved, so it was constantly playing in our house. My Grandad also had a big band during the war so when I started showing signs of interest in jazz music he encouraged me, along with my parents. I started playing the piano from an early age, then progressed to clarinet but my real focus was the sax. I remember loving the feel and the sound that the instrument could make; it really touched me. Needless to say that when I started playing the sax I couldn’t put it down!
What and who are your influences?
My early jazz influences would be Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, Duke Ellington - my list could go on! I then discovered soul and funk music through people like Earth, Wind & Fire, Weather Report, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway etc.
How do you think the sax house sound has developed since the start of your career?
On a personal level I never thought I would end up jamming to house music with a DJ! When I started back in the 90’s there really wasn’t that much of it going on and it seemed more of a novelty. Now I’m seeing sax players in clubs everywhere - it’s great! There have also been many inspiring sax house tracks over the years which have helped to keep the sax firmly in its ‘house’ position.
With the Hed Kandi residency at Es Paradis, Ibiza has become your summer home - what do you love most about the island?
Everything! I love how the island can give you exactly what you wish for. I find Ibiza extremely inspiring: it’s a magnet for creative people. I love that Ibiza is a musical institution; what happens in Ibiza echoes around the world. It also has some of the most beautiful beaches and coves in the Mediterranean for when you wish to wind down, and at the opposite end of the scale some of the most legendary, awesome clubs in the world for when you want to party hard. I love how the island’s nightlife is a global, cultural hotpot of clubbers at their very best!
Tell us what it's like to be a Hed Kandi resident and your favourite memory!
It is an honour to have been involved with Hed Kandi for so long. I remember the first Hed Kandi CD I owned, I could not stop playing it! If you had told me then that I would eventually be their resident sax player - and in Ibiza?! No way would I have believed you. I reminisce fondly of our El Divino days back in Ibiza town, yet I would also have to say that playing the Space terrace every Saturday night back in the summer of 2009 would have to be one of my very favourite Hed Kandi memories.
You were invited to tour under Domenico Dolce (Dolce & Gabbana) – tell us about that experience!
I met Domenico Dolce at a private event in Ibiza that I played alongside my husband Ben Santiago, who is also a Hed Kandi Ibiza resident DJ. I did not recognise him at first and it was only after he came and asked me for my business card that I realised who he was! We initially played for his nephew’s wedding in Milan, but it went so well that he asked us if we would like to work more closely with Dolce & Gabbana. Needless to say we said yes and ended up touring Europe and Asia in their boutique stores! The other plus meant that we were dressed from head to toe in Dolce & Gabbana at every event - definitely living the dream!
You’ve also played for a lot of big names including Moet & Chandon, Slash & Nick Mason – what has been your favourite experience?
Moet & Chandon would have to be up there as I was being constantly offered glasses while I was playing - no complaints there! Though out of all the people I’ve played for, Nick Mason would have to be one of the nicest, genuine guys I’ve met. He has a lovely, fun family and we always try to keep in touch when they return to Ibiza.
Your debut album Off the Ground was signed by Robin Millar – tell us about that experience
My husband met Robin at the IMS [Ibiza Music Summit] a few years back and got talking to him about me. From this brief meeting I ended up hooking up with Robin whilst back in London and he heard my single of "Baker Street" that I had only just recorded. He loved it! Then he heard the rest of the album and offered to put it out on his label NuJazz. To have someone like Robin - the producer of Sade, Randy Crawford, Fine Young Cannibals etc - endorse your music was quite a meaningful milestone for me.
Do you have a second album in the pipeline?
Absolutely! I am currently writing an album for a Japanese label but once this is completed I am back in the studio to start my next album. The last few years have been very busy for me with gigs and not enough studio time, so I’m excited to get back into writing mode. Let’s get this summer out the way though first!
What’s been your favourite event to play and why?
It would have to be the year Hed Kandi suspended me from the Es Paradis roof on a glittery moon! I remember nearly being in tears at the closing party as I did not want it to end!! That was definitely a little girl’s dream...
And finally, if you had to pick just one, what would be your all time favourite sax house tune?
"The Man With The Red Face" - Laurent Garnier. It is quite simply an eternal classic.