"They do like to put me in these weird places," laughs the adorably bubbly Laura Fowles. "The last time I was coming down on a glittery half moon. It was quite dream-like, actually."
On the island of Ibiza, Fowles is fittingly titled, "The Lovely Laura." For the past ten years, she has been enchanting partygoers with her whimsical saxophone performances, accompanying the DJs that pass through some of the island's most iconic clubs. Most recently, she balanced atop an oversized flower, carefully floating across the iconic Ocean Beach Ibiza pool as she serenaded clubgoers with her unusual jazz-infused house music.
"I get nervous when I'm doing it, but I'm loving every minute," notes the Dorset, London native. "I love the whole theatrical thing, but at the same time, I want to play good music. Sometimes when you try to do these adventurous things, you can sacrifice the quality of the music. Often, I do my first set in these wacky environments, and then the second set, I'll go on stage next to the DJ with a monitor. That's when I sound professional." The conflicting feelings are understandable. An honours graduate from the the University of Leeds' jazz program, Fowles first dived deeply and passionately into the world of traditional saxophone before developing her niche production in Spain.
"It was a complete accident," she reflects. "I was chatting with another guy from my course and he said, 'I need to pass off this gig I'm doing with a DJ.' I hadn't seen this whole DJ/musician thing, so I went down to see what he was doing. I remember sitting in the bar and just loving the music. I said 'I'd love to give it a go,' and that's how it all started." With a new found passion for dance music, her live innovative collaborations with DJs not only helped to pay her way through college, but also catch the eye of UK record label Hed Kandi.
"I started playing for Hed Kandi in 2004, and at this point, they had a residency out in Ibiza," she tells. "They got me over to their final closing party. I was only there for like 24 hours, but I loved it so much. The clubs were on a completely different level compared to what I experienced in the UK. I said to myself, 'I'm going to come back with my girlfriends and we'll have a party, but at the same time, I'm going to get some gigs in.'" After a thrilling first impression, the island quickly evolved from a quick trip, to an extended vacation spot, to a permanent home."In 2007, I met my husband on the island," she recalls. "He was also from England, but he was living out here as a DJ. We hit it off and kept in touch through the winter. In January, he said, 'How about we get a place together in Ibiza Town and just have a whole summer of working and gigging?' It was amazing. We completely fell in love. We were working a lot. It was good fun, and we ended up buying a house."
A new life on the island also meant a Cinderella-esque transition in Fowles' appearance. Gradually, she moved from jeans and tees, to elaborate, carefully crafted costumes. One of her most notable pieces is the larger-than-life set of peacock wings that rest prettily on her back when she performs in her personal birdcage at Es Paradis Ibiza. "The whole theme this year is tropical paradise, so they want me to do this bird of paradise thing," she reveals. " Back in college, I would throw on a pair of trainers or ripped jeans at gigs. Here, I'm on stage with dancers that are stunning, and wearing sequins, and I thought, God, I really gotta up my game and make a bit more effort. I started thinking, What could I be, what could I wear."
Although her Spanish fairytale is a decade old, The Lovely Laura moniker only recently gained international attention. Last year, a fan-made video of Fowles covering Klingande's chart-topping "Jubel" invaded social media feeds worldwide. "It's crazy," she remarks. "I find it so ironic that I've been spending years saving up for a proper promotional video, then suddenly some girl with a dodgy iPhone shows up to a gig of mine, starts jumping around, drunkenly takes this wobbly video, uploads it to Facebook, and it just goes viral." Thankfully, Fowles' impressive musicianship, along with her Aladdin-esque harem pants and mile-high sock bun, shined through the video's lackluster production.
"[The video] was quite special because it eventually reached Klingande's Facebook and his management got in touch. He loved what I was doing, so it actually had quite a sweet ending. I ended up doing a few gigs with him, which has been great." A colourful collaboration with Klingande is only one of Fowles' many wacky, but admirable, career milestones. With both a Dolce and Gabbana sponsored tour, and a duet with Mark Knight on her list of accomplishments, even Charlie Parker would be envious of the versatile musician.
"This year I fulfilled my dream of playing Pacha in Ibiza, which is a place I always wanted to play," she states, modestly attempting to mask her obvious delight. "It's just so iconic. Everyone knows this club, there's just so much respect for it. It's seen some of the most amazing acts grow and establish their names there. You walk in and you know you're in Ibiza. I'm just totally blown away that I even got to play there, even if I never get to play there again." Glitter-soaked and neon-coated, Fowles predicts she will continue to rendezvous with her vibrant alter ego in the years to come.
"I don't know what will be happening in Ibiza in ten years time, but I'm sure it's going to be thriving," she says. "For the moment, I'm having a great time.. I just want to keep on doing the best I can. I love it here."
Don't tell The Lovely Laura to stop tooting her own horn. It's working for her.