With an explosive album and illuminating interview, Gina Jeanz shares her immersive musical journey and story behind her debut album titled, ‘Lucid Theory’
African musicians are constantly exploring diverse music genres and are void of boundaries confining them to the generic Afrobeats sound. South African-based music producer and Dj Gina Jeanz leads the pack of female record musicians paving the way for electronic music in Africa.
GINA JEANZ is a Namibian electronic music producer, DJ, and creative who has released three EPs in the last two years that have received worldwide rave reviews and critical acclaim for the quality of content. Her new album ‘Lucid Theory‘ backed by lead singles ‘Sun Spot’, ‘We Move’, and ‘Dopamine’ have garnered extensive recognition from top music tastemakers across the globe. There’s just something about her style.
Gina’s music production skills and growth is evident in the tracks that make up her debut album, ‘Lucid Theory’. With notable mentions to her previously released EP’s ‘Rhythm Chronicles’ and ‘Motion, Gina has been able to reel in listeners and fans from her DJ sets at Afropunk Festival, Boiler Room, Red Bull Music Festival, and more.
The wide-ranging sonic soundscapes on ‘Lucid Theory’ not only take listeners on an immersive musical journey but also showcase the immense talent and creative prowess of Gina Jeanz.
“Music has always been my passion, but this album was more of a therapy for me, and seeing it serve a similar purpose to listeners is fulfilling. For the first time in a long time, with this album, I knew if I truly wanted to enjoy making music again, I had to freely and fearlessly do it. With the first track recorded, I knew I was ready to make an album.”
As we chat in a stimulating tone, Gina shares the story behind the making of the ‘Lucid Theory’ album in this illuminating interview.
You are a brilliant Dj, but how did music production begin for you?
Gina: So, I started making music fourteen years ago, and it was from playing the Violin. I learned how to make music using instruments from my sister. A few years later, one of my cousins who studied sound engineering got me into music production using the computer properly, and my passion for music production grew on.
So, is Gina your birth name, or is there a story behind Gina Jeanz?
Gina: There’s not much to it. So many people call me Jeanz for short, like from when I was an adolescent. It became a nickname that most people knew me with, and it had a nice ring to it, so I just stuck with it.
I loved your album on my first listen, but I had this thought. Why the Electronica genre for your debut album?
Gina: Well, I grew up inspired by artists and producers like Timbaland, so that was my reference to music in terms of production, and I grew up around R’n’B, Hip-Hop, and House music. So, a big part of me was like I didn’t see women like me making electronic music in Africa. A Lot of the time, the music industry is just like guys taking over. I have been here in South Africa for the past ten years, and there aren’t a lot of women who produce electronic music as I do.
I have never really liked to fit in, and the capability of producing electronic music has allowed me to be a little more diverse with my expressions and skills. I can do other genres like Afrobeats, Deep House, Hip-Hop, and R’n’B, but being a producer, you do not want to limit yourself in the studio, and electronic music for me is more about self-expression more than anything and having free range to try different styles and elements. So, even though I grew up around Hip-Hop and R’n’B, I know that representation is key, and I just wanted to show people that there’s this kind of space for black women to thrive.
What is it like making electronic music, especially as a female Dj and Producer in Africa?
Gina: You know, it’s not easy because I didn’t have the mentorship or anyone to guide me regarding what to do and what not to do because they didn’t even understand what I was doing at the time, but that’s okay because I’m big on taking the necessary steps needed to learn. It also gave me the room to learn the ropes, and now that I have a team that understands me and is in tune with my vision, they give me the necessary support I need to grow and expand my horizon with the music.
So, Lucid Theory. What was the inspiration behind the album?
Gina: A series of events led me to create this album and set the foundation for the entire project. I had been fighting my own battles, particularly after the passing of my mother in 2017. Moments like that can be very significant for a young woman. You are confronted with what life becomes, how to move forward, and overcome your fears. In the years that followed, I was severely anxious and could barely create music without running into creative blocks and doubting my ability to bring my ideas to life. I felt that I was not paying attention to the signs, but with everything that happened, there was a lesson, and each one forced me to understand my purpose clearly. Being able to produce my music during this period of uncertainty brought me so much healing.
So,this album was like therapy. Tracks like ‘Overstimulated’ reflect the events surrounding my life and my state of mind at the time, like not being in control of my future. In ‘All Of Me’ and ‘Can’t Pretend’, you can notice the willingness to commit to Love. So, a big part of producing this album was overcoming the fear of what life would be without my mother, overcoming what the industry expected me to be, and overcoming myself because you are your biggest critic. The moment I decided to let it flow, it made it easier to produce music without fear or the uncertainty of how the music will be received.
Music is therapy for me, and I hope this album also helps every listener through difficult times.
Talking about the making of the Lucid Theory album, what was the creative process like, and how did you identify the artists you wanted on each record?
Gina: Okay, a big part of the artist selection was essentially artists that were keen to work with me and the energy around each track. I love to work with artists who are also interested in working with me so that the vibe is pure and the music is flawless. I also had access to people I knew from way back, like MOONGA K and Sio. When I made the track ‘Sun Spot’, she was the only one I had in mind for it. Most of it was spontaneous and done by reaching out to the artists that matched the energy of the tracks I had produced. Jordan happened to be in the studio I was at the time and we just clicked. I also wanted to give other artists I believe in (like AliThatDude) an opportunity to excel through the project. I am all about energy or vibe and making selfless music.
Fan Favorites so far include Dopamine, We Move, and Sun Spot. Did any record give you a difficult time compared to the others?
Gina: For me, ‘Can’t Pretend’ is that track that had me explore and experiment in-depth and stands out in terms of the R’n’B and Soul in it. I like to experiment and strive for authenticity, so I had to get an instrumentalist to play live during the studio session. I also had to do all sorts to find the perfect groove for the song. So, I would not say it was difficult, more like challenging but inspiring for me.
Let’s briefly talk about modeling. How long have you been a model, and how do you balance that with making music and Djing?
Gina: Well, I have been modeling professionally for about eleven years now, and it all started with the common idea that as a beautiful tall young girl, I wanted to be a model. So, when I moved to Cape Town, I was scouted. I initially thought I would do it full-time, but later on, I had to be honest with myself about my music career. The campaigns I did help me raise funds to buy studio equipment and all of that as I progressed.
I’m very grateful to my agency because they are very understanding. They have always known about my passion for music, so as things got serious for my music career, they helped me balance it by working on campaigns that align with our goals, and we’ve found a way to make it work.
As a fashion model, what is/are your go-to fashion items?
Gina: I’m into bags right now. I can always step out in a pair of Jeans and Sneakers, but I’m a huge fan of high-end bags now.
What is most challenging for you as a creative?
Gina: The most challenging thing is the finances to execute my ideas. For one, music videos are expensive to make, and although there are resources to leverage, there are also limitations. Especially when you know where you’re coming from and understand where you want to get to in your career.
One can be smart about it, but generally, with better resources, more ideas will come to life and tell our stories the way we want as creatives.
What keeps me going is the fact that I want to live a good life. I also want to represent and set the pace for other women from Namibia and Black women to understand that these limitations don’t mean we can’t achieve our dreams and live the life we desire. With our heads in the right place, we can overcome every obstacle and achieve our goals.
Which of the record(s) on your Lucid Theory album means the most to you?
Gina: Well, as the producer of the album, I love all the songs, but ‘Can’t Pretend’ stands out for me because it shows a lot of growth. ‘Overstimulated’ is my absolute favorite because it set the pace for all the other songs. It somehow gave me an epiphany that I was ready to make an album.
What’s next for Gina Jeanz?
Gina: I want to explore other aspects of African music and work with more artists from West Africa and Europe. Now that I have my album out, I want to explore different sounds as I work with more artists from other parts of the world. We are also working on doing a small tour for the album.
It is inspiring to see African Music Producers step up and champion music genres that are either ingenious or relatively thriving in the African music scene.
Gina Jeanz is not only flying the flag for electronic music in Africa, but she is also one of the few women producers across the African music scene. This drives her passion to uplift and empower more women in the industry. Gina’s ‘Lucid Theory’ offers an electronic music masterclass for listeners to lose themselves in, and her ability to successfully collaborate with artists from a wide array of genres, including UK garage or UK R&B, demonstrates her versatility and establishes that she is capable of rising to the occasion.
Listen to ‘Lucid Theory’ here.