It’s nearing 1am at the prestigious Space Ibiza and LAUREN LO SUNG is preparing to step up to the decks. She’s inside the superclub’s bustling terrace to make her debut, after a day of lounging poolside at Carl Cox’s private villa. It’s approaching peak time, and the 25-year-old from Calderstones, Allerton, is about to play the gig of a lifetime.
It’s Cox’s final stint at the iconic venue after a 15-year residency, and Space’s last-ever season full stop before it changes management, making the gig even more memorable. This will also be the last time LAUREN LO SUNG plays the club, which has been a seminal part of the island’s history for 27 years, and it will be the last time many of the ravers on that terrace will be engulfed by tech and house euphoria as they leave their everyday troubles behind.
As always, Lauren is creative and meticulous in her approach, showcasing a real eye for detail and an energy that radiates when she’s bopping behind the decks, smiling infectiously in response to the crowd’s hoots or the support from fellow DJs alongside her. Cox is the most inspiring example, caught bouncing behind her during her performance wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with her LOLiFE brand.
To understand why Lauren was placed in that position in front of the terrace’s textured stone walls, under the salient lighting installation with one of the biggest DJs in the world backing her so vociferously, you have to trace her modest roots. “I always had it in my head that I wanted to do something to do with music when I was younger,” she tells us, with a warmth in her voice. “My sister and brother have a lot to do with that, they’re 12 and 18 years older than me so when I was younger they were going to Cream. I’ve always been into music from a really young age because they used to blast it round the house.”
It was a passion which was clarified from as early as 11 when Lauren got her first pair of beginner’s decks, serving her well as she got a proper feel for the basics of DJing. From there it was on to playing parties for friends, taking DJ lessons during sixth form and then getting to grips with local bars, before moving to Manchester for university and borrowing cash from her family to get her first pair of Pioneer CDJs.
With more knowledge and a knack for the proper equipment, Lauren began to play at hotspots like Canal Street in Manchester and G Bar in Liverpool, before taking her talents to underground club nights like Waxxx in her hometown, where she secured a residency. “That’s when I started to branch out more into the music that I really loved,” she remembers. “I mean, I’ve always loved funky house and I always will love house music, but the stuff I play now is deeper, more techy and stripped back. I couldn’t play that in Liverpool bars.”
When Lauren shed her skin and delved into that side of electronic music, the natural progression was to create something that reflected her new ethos in its entirety – along came her own night, LOLiFE. “I started that in really small venues,” she recalls. “We used to get a bit of a following from the students. It was intimate spaces but absolutely full of people and they were all really up for it.” With a platform in place to showcase her skills as a DJ and her keen forward-thinking ear, it wasn’t long before Lauren was picked up for bigger gigs like Parklife Festival and TRMNL in Birmingham, along with a splattering of European dates.
It’s not just about being behind the decks, though: she started producing around five years ago, and is a dab hand at it. “I’ve had a few EPs out, three or four of the tracks were in the Beatport Top 100 for minimal,” she explains modestly. Her commitment to sourcing and delivering standout music was highlighted even further when she started her own label E1even with partner and fellow DJ Sian Bennett last year.
Despite being younger than most of her peers Lauren has an almost matchless understanding of timing and reasoning. ““DJing is a very success-hungry game to be involved with – you always want to be doing better than what you were doing last year; it’s good to have that desire,” she says. “To be honest, I’ve never not been happy with where I was. I’ve always thought, ‘I want to be really big one day’, but my attitude has always been, ‘It’ll come when I’m ready for it.’” And there’s no doubting she was ready for this year.
Things have really started to click into place for Lauren during 2016. She was snapped up to Safehouse Management, Cox’s own company, who also look after John Digweed, Nicole Moudaber and Yousef, a move which led to a confirmation of the slot at Space. “It was a whirlwind. I had friends from Australia that came over and surprised me; I had family and my girlfriend there. It was just mad. As soon as we got there, I had my pin curls in looking like a Scouser and I thought, ‘I’ve had them in for 24 hours; I’m not taking them out for any DJ,’” she says, pausing for a giggle. Well, you can take the girl out of Liverpool…
“The villa was absolutely stunning, really chilled and so peaceful, and we had a little massage by the pool. I’m not just saying this because I’ve played there recently, but out of all the clubs I’ve wanted to play, apart from maybe DC10, Space is the one. So to play there for the final year on such an historical night, was a real massive buzz.”
Having her close-knit family along for the ride is something Lauren cherishes immensely and she more than appreciates her brother and sister’s musical knowledge. Just weeks before the gig her mum found a box filled with tapes including recorded Carl Cox sets. “My mum said to me, ‘Imagine if your Paul knew back then that his little sister would be playing with Carl Cox!’, she says, followed by a laugh. “Seriously, nothing gets me more than when my mum tells me she’s proud of me; it makes me quite emotional.”
It’s not just her mum who should be beaming; Lauren should undoubtedly feel proud of herself as lots of young, aspiring DJs, particularly in Liverpool, now have a figure to look up to who has achieved so much through utter determination. “As cringey as it sounds, people need to believe in themselves,” Lauren says, sounding completely sure of her words. “I think the most successful people are the ones who fail but who continue to believe, and then bounce back from that.” Perhaps it’s Lauren’s ability, belief or work ethic that have led to a truly remarkable breakthrough year – it’s probably all of them – but whatever she’s doing, she’s doing it right.