Hypebeast Visits: Jordss and the Places That Keep Her Grounded With size? and The North Face
The DJ/producer discusses creativity, overcoming the unthinkable, and the importance of taking a break. It only takes one life-changing situation to alter who you are, and Jordss knows this all too well.
For the latest installment of Hypebeast Visits, we’ve teamed up with size? and The North Face to explore not only the space where the DJ/producer creates, but also where she goes to find an escape, and how these both hold equal importance.
“I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb with a love for music,” Jordss says. Her family fostered this inherent passion during her formative years, and she tried her hand at playing various instruments like the guitar, piano, and drums. However, it was seeing her cousin and uncle DJing at a family function that she thought, “Maybe it’s not a musical instrument I wanted. Maybe this is my instrument.”
Boasting a musical acumen more advanced than her age, she was a young selector compiling mixtapes to match the taste of her listeners at just nine years old. “I’d be making lovers’ rock tapes for my aunt Patsy, jazz or funk for my uncle, and grime or garage for my friends,” she remembers, but it was receiving an old pair of CDJs “that literally only took CDs” which really kick-started her new trajectory.
Practicing with loops and making live remixes is where the production element of her journey came to fruition. The 2000s was the era of progressive sampling and Jordss notes pioneers like Timbaland and Just Blaze for shaping it. Inspired by their rich musical knowledge, their ability to cultivate something unique from existing sounds is a skill only a few can master. “It was so clever and well done. That era is something to be admired, and I studied the way they did it.” she expresses.
Asking a self-proclaimed “music nerd” to pinpoint their defining music moment is a difficult task. However, one piece of work that she holds in high regard (at least this time, anyway) is Amy Winehouse’s 2003 debut album Frank. With the majority of hits from that era coming from the States, “Amy was that London girl” who brought a new energy to the charts. And whilst her peers rarely delved outside the likes of Ashanti and JLo, Winehouse’s talent, vocal range, and genre-bending style is what drew her in. “Growing up, that album was everything. My biggest regret is never being able to see her live,” she says.
The best sets I’ve done, and the best music I’ve produced, have happened when I’ve just been completely free, had fun, and let my creativity flow.
For Jordss, preparation isn’t a rigid practice. “I try not to physically prepare for [sets] because I always love the anticipation of who’s going to be there, what the DJs before me have played, and catching the vibe from the crowd,” she explains. She ensures that her set fits cohesively with the night — and her experience, as well as her extensive understanding of music, allows it to be second nature. This freestyle approach is also translated to production. She doesn’t go into the studio thinking about what the final product will be, or what genre she’ll tap into, but trusts her process wholeheartedly. “The best sets I’ve done, and the best music I’ve produced, have happened when I’ve just been completely free, had fun, and let my creativity flow,” she expresses. “That’s the beauty of it.”
It was during her university studies in Brighton where she made the move to take her bedroom set-up to the local event circuit. Being a small coastal city with limited venues to play at, after two years she had completed all the main spots and was ready to embark on her next chapter. “I moved back to London and I was like ‘Okay, where do I start?’” She came across Ridley Road Market Bar in Dalston, East London, and was attracted to its vibrant aura. Determined to get the London leg of her career established, she found the organizer’s details and began reaching out persistently for the chance to showcase her talent. Her debut set was an inevitable success which led to her getting the Thursday night spot before eventually becoming its Saturday night resident DJ — the break she longed for.
Despite being from West London, Jordss would rally her friends and travel across the city every weekend to support her events. And it was at Ridley Road Market where she was able to formulate and perfect her sound. “They gave me the freedom to play what I want,” Jordss remembers of her time there. This free reign, during her then-five-hour sets, gave her the opportunity to exhibit her love for music and “take people on a sonic journey” which could start at RnB and finish at DnB — covering everything else in between. “It allowed me to really express all genres, all my loves,” Jordss says. With years of experience, she learned how to perfect her craft, condensing these all-night showcases into one-hour slots to still “get the essence of that journey in every set.”
It’s important to remember where you started. It’s completely grounding, completely humbling, and makes me appreciate everything I’m doing now.
Our visit to Ridley Road Market, which had played such a pivotal role in her career, is still an important part of her present and future. “That place is really special. It was tight, it was sweaty but everyone was always up for it. I’ll always have love for Ridley Road,” she expresses. When she got the call to be its Saturday night resident, at the time, it was the biggest thing she had accomplished. But as she reaches new heights, Jordss also reminds herself to set bucket-list targets — surpassing them every chance she gets. “I will set goals and by the same time next year, I will have done them and forgot that was even a goal. It just becomes another thing in my diary,” so for her, taking a step back not only provides a much-needed break but also time to reflect on how far she’s come. “It’s important to remember where you started. It’s completely grounding, completely humbling, and makes me appreciate everything I’m doing now,” she says. “Whilst also showing love to the people that helped because I truly believe that it takes a community.”
Being right in the hustle and bustle of East London, she did, and still does, view West as “the place I think of when I need to go and get peace and quiet, fresh air and home-cooked food.” The same city, two different worlds, where “even the gentrification is different,” perfectly describes the wide span of London. So making use of the vast green spaces her hometown has to offer makes the outdoors somewhere where she can disconnect and feel at peace. “Being in nature and realizing that whatever you’ve got going on, it’s minuscule in comparison,” she explains. “When I’m walking my dogs or going for a run, it’s one of the few times where I’m truly on my own. Sometimes it’s nice to just be alone with your thoughts.”
In the mobile tech age where you can connect with others anytime, anywhere, getting true alone time can prove to be difficult – and so is creating boundaries. Add that to the bleak British weather, finding an escape for Jordss comes through getting out of the country. “It sounds so dramatic, but if I need to switch off from the world I go to the Caribbean [laughs],” she says. “I usually stay at my cousin’s house and in rural areas, if you’re not connected to WiFi, your phone ain’t gonna work. I love that. I come back rejuvenated and inspired.”
Although it’s her job, she still enjoys listening to music in her downtime and the habit of scouring SoundCloud for new artists and producers “with 50 listens but have a banging edit” hasn’t worn off. Speaking of taking her passion full-time, she says, “It doesn’t feel like work and I’m so lucky for that. I love it just as much as I did 15 years ago.”
Given Jordss’ charismatic and positive energy, it’s hard to tell that just this year she underwent major heart surgery. This time of deep uncertainty not only changed her outlook on life but “changed me completely.” Rewind two years prior, things took a turn for the worse when she suffered a cardiac arrest following a year of pleading with healthcare professionals to address the severe sickness she was experiencing. The culmination of being a Black woman — who statistically receive a lower rate of access to medical support than anyone else — as well as being part of a profession that’s stereotypically associated with late nights, drugs, and alcohol, meant her pleas weren’t treated as a matter of seriousness or urgency. “I suffered from being gaslit for a long time. It led me to convince myself that it was all made up in my head, but it wasn’t, and that was making me ill,” she sombrely remembers.
Her concerns were continually dismissed as being anxiety induced, and in turn, made Jordss succumb to those exact symptoms. “It became a vicious cycle,” she says. “I knew my heart was failing. I’d get out of breath when walking or even having conversations. I’d stay in bed a lot and that just fed into the depression. It got to a point where on the lead up to my heart attack, I was totally debilitated.”
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. A therapist is a doctor for your mind.
At just 27 years old, Jordss was the youngest patient on the heart ward. She witnessed firsthand the reality of her condition whilst naturally bearing the relentless feeling of “Why me?” However, the physical healing has just been a fraction of her sustained recovery, “It’s the mental healing that’s been the hardest thing and I’m not even halfway through it. I still struggle.”
Years of strain on her heart, and her mental health, have led Jordss to be clinically diagnosed with PTSD. One thing she advocates strongly for is seeking help through therapy. “Thank God,” she exclaims. “Regardless of whether you do have any trauma, I think everyone should be in therapy. If you hurt your leg, you’d go to the doctor. If you feel unwell, you check with a doctor. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. A therapist is a doctor for your mind.”
Despite having always been cautious of putting any increased pressure on her heart, Jordss is growing. Unlocking new challenges to break through the anxiety. Friends and family form a strong support system in her recovery and having the ability to “confide in someone” continues to be a big step in her growth. Regardless of the obstacles she’s had to endure, she still finds the positives in every situation. “I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to grow from this all,” she says with a smile.
As creatives, we need to normalize taking a break.
Understanding your craft to such a level that you can turn your passion into a job is a commendable characteristic. Jordss initially left her nine-to-five after having to turn down numerous gigs due to time constraints — realizing that if she dedicated her time to DJing without limitations, she’d be able to pursue music full-time. However, the life of a DJ might look appealing from the outside, but the reality is that it consists of long and lonely nights. “When you deep it, you’re on your own. You’re alone behind the decks, separated by a booth or a stage. You’re in the party, but you’re not actually part of the party,” Jordss says.
What people in music, as well as the creative industry in general, need to practice is not being afraid to take a break. “In our profession, you think you’ve got to work harder. Even when I was unwell, because I’m a freelancer, I’m thinking about how to pay rent,” she says about how not putting health before work can lead to detrimental consequences. “I know as soon as I’m off the circuit or take some time off, the next one will come in. I felt like I couldn’t stop when actually, all I needed to do was just stop. That’s the culture the industry has created, unfortunately. Being everywhere, otherwise, someone else is going to do it for cheaper. As creatives, we need to normalize taking a break.”
Throughout her career, Jordss has DJed in venues for every scenario and to the ears of a range of audiences “from pubs in Bermondsey to bashment raves in Jamaica.” This year, she made her debut at Glastonbury Festival and shut down a block party in New York. Her innate love for music is what separates her from others and you can credit her success to that deep-rooted passion. But as she advances and remains breaking through her annual goals, one of her key mottos is staying true to herself and her vision.
As she continues to overcome personal battles, she sees life from a different perspective now. Recently launching Journeyss, an event that showcases a variety of DJs that “you would never see on a lineup together” — this eclectic mix of sounds embodies Jordss aesthetic of taking listeners on a sonic journey. As more grassroots nights are beginning to crop up across the city, this is the new wave of underground music movements that she’s yearned to see. “I love it. Yeah, let’s change up this London scene,” she says.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, or like Jordss, have felt that there’s no one to help, What’s On Your Mind? is the partner charity who specialize in the mental wellness and health of musicians and those in the arts. For more information, please visit the charity’s website who will endeavour to assist you.