Interview with Saxophonist Lovely Laura and DJ Ben Santiago

Lovely Laura and Ben Santiago are a married couple in addition to a vibrant saxophonist and a dynamic DJ. The electric pair continue to set the music alight with their incredible live performances. Aside from lighting up music lovers in the club, the pair has also worked with a number of brands including Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, MTV and more. Today, Lovely Laura and Ben Santiago give Filthy Lucre a peek into their lives. 

When did you get into DJing?  What or who were your early passions and influences?

BEN: I got into electronic music in the late 80s when acid house and hip-hop burst onto the scene. My friends and I used to buy all the records and DJ as a hobby in our bedrooms. It was only many years later after a trip to Ibiza did I decide to try and turn professional.

LAURA: I was fortunate enough to be born into a musical family and apparently was scatting to Ella Fitzgerald before I could talk!  It was only later when I was about 19 that I took up the saxophone and realised that I had to make music my life. My initial passion has always been jazz/ soul and I had no idea I would end up in the electronic music world, that was completely by accident!

How do you find your inspiration?

LAURA: It more finds me! I could go all day without hearing anything inspirational and then from nowhere I might here a chord progression on the radio or even just a sound that really gets my juices flowing!

Where are people most likely to see you perform?

BEN: Ibiza! This summer we’ve played at Privilege, Pacha, Ibiza Rocks, Cafe Mambo & Eden.

LAURA: As Ben rightly said – Ibiza! Though we are also now travelling a lot more now so hopefully we will be coming to aplace near you 😉

Do you have original music that is available online?

BEN: We released ‘Just Want Your Body’ at the start of the summer which is available on all streaming and music download websites. More music to follow soon!

LAURA: I also have some original jazz tracks online too but that’s a completely different field!!

What is one mistake you see a lot of up and coming DJs making?

BEN: Red lights all over the mixer which makes their music sound awful – those lights are red for a reason! I would also encourage all up & coming DJs to learn & understand the art of warming up. I have so much respect for any DJ that knows how to warm up properly and executes the perfect warm up set.

If you could be eternally stuck in one year’s music scene, which year would it be?

LAURA: Really can’t answer that! I love too many years!! A whole decade would be hard enough.

BEN: I’d hate to be eternally stuck in any one year’s music scene, no matter how good it was! I suppose that doesn’t really answer your question though, so I’d be happy with any year that was pre-smartphones and social media.

What is one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?

LAURA:I was recently on a dancefloor when someone dropped Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close. I was truly the happiest face on the dancefloor! How can you not groove to that track?! Nineties classic in my eyes.

BEN: Lovebirds – Want You In My Soul (Original Mix). Arguably the best record ever made.

What is something that bugs you about the DJ scene?

BEN: People that take themselves way too seriously and think they are the bollocks just because they’re a DJ. You play other people’s records mate, get over yourself.

LAURA: Couldn’t agree more with Ben here. I have zero tolerance for egos and DJ snobbery.

What do you try to communicate to the audience through your vibe?

LAURA: Happiness and positive energy. I vibe off the crowd when I see pure joy on their faces. If we can get goosebumps and tears as well then even better!! Haha

BEN: Let your hair down and dance to the music.

Where would you most like to perform?

BEN:  I’d love to play in the Albert Hall. I love that place.

LAURA: Main stage at Tomorrowland! I can’t even begin to imagine how it would feel to play to so many people!

How do you prepare your sets?

BEN: We’ve been playing together for long enough now that I can get a good feel for tracks that work well with the saxophone. There has to be space in the track for Laura to play, but more importantly it has to be something that Laura can vibe off. Therefore what tends to happen is I send any potential tracks to Laura, and if she gives me the thumbs up, I add them to the playlist for our live sets. Then when we play out, I choose tracks from the playlist according to what the crowd are reacting to. This formula works well because Laura can be confident that I am not going to play anything that doesn’t work or she doesn’t know, but at the same time we keep our sets fresh and different with each performance.

What have you learned since you started out as a DJ?

BEN:  That everything is half chance and it’s only luck that separates us all. Also that nothing lasts forever.

LAURA: Success is not just about having talent, you need a whole lot of luck too!! Have faith in whatever life throws at you. I’ve discovered that everything normally happens for a reason yet very often you don’t see the benefit of that situation until many years later. Be grateful, remain focused and stay grounded. For every immense high I’ve discovered you will most probably crash to earth 100 times! Avoid the slippery slope to alcohol and drugs and try to avoid surrounding yourself with people who love that life – that negative influence will ultimately destroy you. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the journey as it will be over before you know it.

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