Photo: Press (Gina Jeanz)
Gina Jeanz has been on a roll lately, but that doesn’t mean that she’s only going into only one direction. Having released her debut album Lucid Theory to great fanfare, the Namibian-born left South Africa for Switzerland in 2023 and documented the process of finding herself far away from those familiar places on the aptly titled Dichotomy EP on Temper Tone that was decidedly more dancefloor-oriented than the preceding LP. Her contribution to our Groove podcast blends classic tracks with fresh material from rising talents—it’s a journey that is as unpredictable as Gina Jeanz’ own path, multi-faceted and emotionally rich.
You released your debut album Lucid Theory in 2021. Stylistically, it covers a very broad range. How did you approach writing it?
One of my main goals in producing my album was to highlight the diverse influences I’ve been exposed to throughout my journey as a music producer. I’ve continuously experimented with my sound over the years drawing inspiration from various genres. As much as I consider this an “electronic” album, it goes beyond the boundaries of a single style.
The album features a slew of tracks that were created in collaboration with other artists. What generally draws you to working with other people?
Ultimately, what matters most to me is the chemistry we cultivate during studio sessions. I genuinely value the opportunity to connect with the individuals I work with, it enables a deeper understanding of each other’s strengths and contributions. A successful collaboration thrives when there is mutual respect for our creative ideas, and even something as basic as engaging in open conversations plays a significant role in achieving that synergy.
Thematically, Lucid Theory revolved around very personal topics. On the vocal tracks, those were obviously presented to your audience by people other than you. What impact did that have on your working process with them? How did you, for example, write the lyrics?
Rather than being rigid in my process, I allowed myself to take cues from the vocalists and encouraged them to share their own stories. The artists were able to express themselves authentically, free from any predetermined expectations I may have had as the producer. The album, as a whole, emerged from our conversations and the discovery of shared experiences in our personal lives. While I played my role in composing and crafting the sonic arrangements, I also actively contributed to the melodic ideas and offered input where necessary. However, I placed complete trust in the vocalists to bring to life the collaborative ideas we had developed together.
You relocated to Switzerland roughly a year ago. What prompted you to move there?
After the pandemic, both my husband and I felt a strong desire for a change of environment. Prior to releasing the album, I realised that I needed additional support if I wanted to take my career to the next level. I’d also wanted to enter the international market after living in South Africa for twelve years, so it was time to make that move. A number of random events took place eventually leading us to settle in Switzerland. Coincidentally, we have family residing here, so when deciding on which European country to move to, it made sense to begin in a place where we would have some support settling in.
Your latest EP Dichotomy was heavily influenced by the experience of “intimidated by this new territory,” as you put it. What impact did that have on your creative process?
I felt it was crucial to highlight the shift and transition in both my personal life and musical style. It reminded me of the importance of taking risks and having the courage to leap into the unknown. Often, the willingness to embrace new opportunities and possibilities diminishes as we grow older. However, this EP reignited my belief that I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to, it evoked that sense of limitless potential within me.
The first track, “Resist,” features your own vocals—the first time you have stepped up to the mic after previously collaborating with vocalists. It’s a short moment, however, that only makes it seem even more personal. Why did you decide to record the vocals yourself?
I had already made a brief appearance on “Can’t Pretend” from my album Lucid Theory, it served as the initial step towards gaining confidence in singing on my own tracks. I have been actively working on strengthening my voice and the more I practice the better I become. I enjoy the entire production process, from its inception to its completion and consider working on my vocals as the next skill I am trying to harness.
The EP is notably more dancefloor-oriented than Lucid Theory, which only makes sense considering that you have been touring heavily in recent times. How do those two aspects of your work, DJing and producing music, influence one another?
Having a platform to perform my music is great in the sense that it allows me to create music tailored specifically for my DJ sets. I find that lately I am driven to produce more tracks that will contribute to crafting my own distinctive DJ sets and learning to strike a balance between producing dance-oriented music that caters to live performances and crafting music that can thrive on streaming platforms. So in a way the performance element is more prominent now and I find that DJing has encouraged me to explore more production techniques and sounds.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
I’ve put together a mix of music I’ve been enjoying lately, both during the tour and in my personal exploration. You’ll hear a combination of timeless classics as well as emerging producers and DJs who have caught my attention. I simply wanted to create a sonic journey that captures the essence of both nostalgia and the excitement of the future.
Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?
Beyond working on new music projects and collaborating with many more artists, one future plan in my career is to create an incredible experience for electronic music enthusiasts in Namibia. The local scene has some extremely talented artists, and I hope to make a meaningful contribution to our small, yet vibrant community in the near future.
Stream: Gina Jeanz – Groove Podcast 386
01. Africanism, DJ Gregory – Block Party (Radio Edit)
02. Haska, Salif Keita – Madan
03. BØRA UZER – Sammaye
04. Tom De Neef & Lazarusman – Agenda (Bontan Remix)
05. Dennis Ferrer – Hey Hey
06. Philo Louzolo, DJ Kwamzy, Osas Aghaku – Baba
07. Vatra – El Maar
08. Anis Hachemi, DJ Emir – Finesse
09. DJ Gregory, Gregor Salto – Canoa
10. Blanco K – That’s Why
11. Dj Tomer & Ricardo ft. Kyaku Kyadaff – Zulu
12. Kgzoo – Inshonalanga
13. Caiiro – Mapoch War