With one foot firmly in the DJ booth after cutting her teeth spinning vinyl in sweaty backrooms, this fast-developing producer and songwriter, Just Her has carved out an impressive back catalogue on world-class labels including Anjunadeep, Crosstown Rebels, Global Underground, and Armada, achieving a wealth of Beatport chart positions, an Essential New Tune on Radio 1
A self-confessed multi-tasker, Just Her has not only found the time and skills to study for a Master’s degree in Music but also to establish her own brand ‘Constant Circles’-a unique concept in which music & contemporary visual art combined, with successful lab label parties across the UK & Europe and art exhibitions in Brighton and London. Alongside the lab label, she also hosts two successful radio shows, self-syndicated to a number of platforms worldwide, including the highly regarded stations Frisky & Proton, as well as heading up a successful music & art blog that is rapidly gaining an underground following
Despite the fallout from the pandemic, the last 18 months could have been Just Her’s strongest to date, with a string of solid solo releases including stellar debuts on Circus, Culprit, and Renaissance, garnering a wealth of support across the industry, from Eli & Fur, to Sasha to Icarus. With this output came hugs in traction on the gig circuit, with stand-out performances at Warm Up Festival and the 10000-capacity Anjunadeep Open Air at Drumshedsin London, plus a bucket list moment of handing over the reins to Sasha and Digweed in her hometown of Brighton. Never one to rest on her laurels, Just Her has continued this momentum in 2022 with a widely acclaimed four four-track on Anjunadeep and a debut release on the fast-rising imprint HE.SHE.THEY, soon to be followed by releases on Selador and Nick Warren’s Soundgarden. 2022
I caught up with Claire to catch up after a few years between chats on the latest release of her EP out now on Selador Records
Hi Claire, thanks for taking the time to speak to us today, it’s been a long time since we chatted, the last time we spoke was in 2015 when we had you as our #13 Future Leader, a lot has happened since then. Your career has exploded over the years, how has the journey been?
Wow yes, that was a while ago! Thanks for having me back again :) Things have changed a lot since then both personally and industry-wide, it’s been a heck of a ride, especially navigating the pandemic, motherhood, renovating a house and completing a Masters Degree along the way, but thankfully I’m still plugging away and managing to sustain a decent career doing what I love. I’ve also ticked off some bucket list labels and venues so far and things still seem to be moving along nicely so hopefully, I will achieve a few more goals yet.
Having recently become a mother, how do you juggle the demands of parenting with the needs of touring, and playing out, even just graduating with a Master of Arts from Waterbear? Any tips for the parents out there?
Sometimes I wonder this myself haha! It’s a tricky balance to get everything working healthily but it’s definitely possible with a bit of thought and efficiency. One thing is for sure, it absolutely makes you assess what is really important and forces you to just cut out anything that doesn’t bring you joy or move you towards your goals. I wish I’d learned to do that before becoming a parent! Then it’s just a case of being fully present and as efficient as possible in everything you do and trying your best to look after yourself physically and mentally in the process.
You’re based in Brighton these days, a place that seems to be constantly evolving, as well as now entering the 10th year of the Brighton Music Conference, can you tell us “what’s in the water” that makes Brighton so alluring to artists to live?
Honestly, it’s like a little creative and friendly bubble down here and I absolutely love it. The city itself is surprisingly small, so it’s easy to make connections and you often randomly bump into people. That’s one thing that makes Brighton Music Conference so special too is the intimacy of it. The visual art scene is also incredible, with some stunning galleries and a thriving street art scene. The whole town is an exhibition really, including the buildings and houses themselves. And of course, we are the only city to have elected a member of Parliament from the Green Party, so you could also say that we are one of the most tolerant, caring and planet-conscious communities in the UK.
Artists constantly shift their sound over the years, how do you think your sound has progressed since we last chatted?
Actually, I don’t think it’s changed that much overall. I’ve always produced and played quite eclectically, which in some ways has hindered me in terms of finding a home within a particular sound or on a certain record label, but at the same time, it has given me the scope to continually experiment with what I make, without having to really change my sound in line with trends or to develop as an artist. I guess I’m on a slightly more breakbeat and garage-inspired vibe at the minute and my tracks are definitely getting a bit faster again, but the overall thread of melody, feeling and emotion runs through everything I do.
I’ve always said that I don’t really care what genre I make or play as long as it moves people and I’m still sticking to that. One thing that has definitely progressed though is my technical skills. I listen back to my old tracks and completely cringe at the mix-downs, but I think this is a right of passage for a producer and I’m not sure I will ever get to a point where I’m completely happy, as music production is a life long learning journey anyway and you are continually improving. At least I can say with honesty that I’ve made everything myself and have worked my ass off for years to get to this point.
With over 20 years now in the industry and an impressive discography, can you talk us through your current studio setup and what’s one bit of kit you’ll never give up?
I finally have a bit of a studio space now, which is hard to come by in Brighton where property is so expensive and buildings are so small. I spent a few years when we moved here just sitting on the end of my bed making tunes like I did when I first started producing! But we finally managed to buy a house with some loft space that I’ve made into my little creative den, with my piano for jamming on, my vocal mic and a rack with my hardware, all connected to the Tascam Model 24 desk, so I have much more of a workflow.
I have a Moog Sub Phatty, Roland TR8 Drum Machine, a vintage tape recorder and a few other bits. But of course my MacBook and Logic Pro are the most important pieces of kit, and when it comes down to it all you really need is a laptop and DAW. It’s the ideas and the creativity that are key!
You’ve been quite active with the Selador label for some years now (practically family), and have a recent EP (Upon the Horizon) out on release, we absolutely love it, can you talk us through the inspiration for the EP?
I sketched the idea for the lead track “Upon The Horizon” at the end of the pandemic when we didn’t really know what the future would be holding for any of us. I had the same thought process when writing the lyrics as I did with my previous track “Will We Ever Learn”, because I feel constantly confused and in shock at the way that we continue to destroy and turn on ourselves as a species, and these feelings tend to come out when I write.
So when Selador asked me for a follow-up with a similar vibe to “Will We Ever Learn”, I knew this would fit and the guys loved it, so I developed it from a simple vocal idea into a full dance floor track. We then added “This Life”, which I had written around a piano chord riff, so it was more instrumental and melodic and seemed to complement the release nicely. And of course, for the addition of the “Will We Ever Learn” remix, we collectively agreed that Jamiie would do a perfect job of this, and wow did she deliver. She added a whole new set of emotions to the track with a euphoric string-based finale, in fact, you could say she stole the show haha.
If you could collaborate with any Selador artist from their label discography, who would it be?
Well, I have actually collaborated with a couple of Selador artists already – in fact, the label released a collaborative EP a few years ago where we chose an artist from the discography to work with. I produced a track with Raw District called ‘Three Hearts’, and this led to us working on a follow-up project, which actually ended up on Crosstown Rebels. I’ve also collaborated with Made By Pete and we have a track together coming out early next year on Nick Warren’s Soundgarden imprint. Then of course I have been remixed by some amazing artists on the label, including Jamiie, Joyce Muniz, Christian Prommer and Pirupa. But if I could choose someone to work with in the future then Smash TV would be great.. maybe the Selador team can make this happen?! :)
Any plans on an album in the future?
Yes for sure. An album has been in the pipeline for a while now and I started working on it during the pandemic but then had to shelve it as things got so busy with raising a newborn and my studies. But actually, the final project of my Masters Degree was developing a bespoke live show including vocals, which I road-tested in Brighton. The idea of this was literally to give me the tools to be able to write an LP and tour it live, which is one of my main goals for 2023. So watch this space I guess!
As mentioned before, you’ve had 20+ years in the industry, no small feat, what’s the best advice you’d give your young self?
To be honest, I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done, as I see everything as a learning curve and a way to grow and develop. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and how I’ve achieved it. If I was to give any advice to people starting out it would be to be humble, be kind, be persistent and make art that you love, rather than what you think is on trend.
You’ve dropped us a new mix, can you tell us the story behind it?
I like to construct my mixes as a bit of a journey, starting slower with a more electronica vibe, before taking the listener through some of the sub-genres of house & techno and then ending with some big dynamics and melodics.
For this mix, I decided to look ahead at the shows I have coming up, so I’ve chosen some of my current favourites, plus a sneak preview of some unreleased tunes from myself and of course my latest release on Selador.
Thanks for speaking with us Claire, hopefully, we can chat again soon, where can people find you over the next few months to catch a gig you are playing at?
Thanks for having me! I’m off to India next with shows in Delhi, Hyderabad and Goa, before heading back to the UK for December shows in Brighton and London. You can catch me at my Constant Circles label showcase alongside Jozef K at the Oculist in Brighton on 2nd Dec, at Printworks London for Anjunadeep on 9th Dec and then seeing in the New Year with the Ritual crew at Haugen in London too. See you on a dance floor somewhere!
01. Josef Mac – Sense Of Self [Self Released]
02. Mattia Pompeo – Branches (Just Her Remix) [Constant Circles]
03. Opus Klien – Aeronautic [Remmah]
04. Maruwa – Tricky Question [X-Kalay]
05. Elderbrook x Tourist – Howl (Logic1000 Remix) [Mine Recordings]
06. Jozef K – Loveparade 2096 [Dreaming Forever]
07. Onur Ozman – Androgyn [Moodmusic]
08. Just Her & Nolan – Shadows In Time [Rennaissance]
09. Peter Hecht – Nights (We’ll Never Forget And Also Never Remember) [Empore Music]
10. Just Her – Upon The Horizon (Extended) [Selador]
11. Hammer, Dart – Tint [Shall Not Fade]
12. Subwave & Bop – Rave I Didn’t Know Was The Last [Hospital Records]