Women in Vinyl Logo

Leah Houser

Vinyl DJ, Record Label, Distributor

We have yet to have someone as immersed in the Jungle scene as Leah Houser, known as DJ Vibrant Junglist. Jungle, a genre of dance music that developed out of the UK rave scene and sound system culture in the 1990s is Leah's genre to choice. She is keeping it alive by not only DJing but also producing, writing new music, running a label and pressing it to vinyl, with future hopes to cut direct to disc with a lathe as well.

When not working on music, Leah is spending her time in the garden, or with her partner, and three cats. She says, "I enjoy a simple life in the country away from the dozens of big cities I previously lived in. I don't regret spending my young adult life connecting with people and networking all around the US and Canada. It has allowed me to reach thousands of people and make lasting friendships. As I grow older, I enjoy being more of a loner and working on music in my studio while staying connected to people online."

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

As an Artist, DJ, and Music Producer, and Record label owner; I been making my musical journey around North America since 1999. My interest in music goes back to the 1980s. My motivation has always been transforming feelings into sounds. Music has always been one of my only healthy outlets for transforming trauma into healing. My mother is a lifelong musician and taught me how to play various instruments through childhood. We had a shared interest in vinyl records as well. I have always been fascinated by sound.

My earliest memories are of recording songs off the radio and adding my own flair to them. I would record myself singing over instrumentals and add my own instruments. Many years later as technology progressed, I made mash ups with instrumentals and a cappella. When I was introduced to the world of DAWs in 2010, my full creative potential was unleashed. Suddenly, it was like I was the conductor of an orchestra with the ability to use any sound in the world to create music. It is the ultimate sense of creative freedom for me, as I did not have to stick to just a few learned instruments. My taste in music ranges through many genres, but I am most passionate about jungle music because of its complexity and creative use of samples.

For the past few years, through connecting with other amazing producers and record labels, I was able to start my own label to feature many talented artists in the jungle music community.

What is a day in the life like?

I have a home studio in which my partner and I use weekly. I use both digital and analog machines with Ableton and currently working on mastering. The record label, Jungle Vibration Records, releases both 7" and 12" vinyl releases through a record pressing plant in New Orleans. They are typically in a white label style and I hand stamp each record label myself. We are working on getting a lathe to cut records for ourselves and other artists. I make all of the digital art, screen print t-shirts, and manage all of the promotion.

In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you've worked on?

Some of my favorite projects have been collaborations or competitions such as the Jungle Wars Sound Clash in which artists from all over the world created music in friendly competition. Also, Jungle Beat Battles where every artist is given the same sample pack and are challenged to create a song using only those samples. I believe these projects have connected me with people I otherwise may not have known about and challenged me to learn more about music production.

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

I do not always have the creative energy necessary to run a record label and keep up with my own music production. It's a challenge to keep a balance while also battling mental and physical illnesses, but I believe that without any music in my life for long periods of time, it makes my physical and mental health so much worse. Music is a lifesaver!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you're doing?  

It took me about 5 years to really get the hang of my own sound and using a DAW to produce. Patience is key. Nobody becomes a good producer overnight. I was lucky to have connections to a lot of good producers who were more than happy to share advice and techniques with me. Receiving feedback is important to me still to this day. I always strive to learn more bit by bit and make sure not to overwhelm myself by taking on too much at one time.

Patience is key. Nobody becomes a good producer overnight.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

I use many records for sampling but also just for listening. I enjoy mixing vinyl mashups with instrumentals and a capellas on turntables. I love the warmth of the sound of vinyl over the sometimes too clean sound of digital music. My partner is also a vinyl record distributor and supplies some of the local record shops. We both enjoy the art of digging for record samples and gems from every decade and genre of music.

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you're excited or worried about?  i.e. innovation, or trends you're seeing.

Jungle music began with vinyl and is still a very vinyl record friendly community. In the 90s, many producers released not only vinyl record albums and white labels, but also dubplates on vinyl. Vinyl and dubplates are engrained into the past, present, and future of both Reggae and Jungle music. Even with the transition to digital files, vinyl is still very popular. DJs all over the world who embrace the feeling of music in a physical form keep the world of vinyl alive. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?

My very first influence with music production was The Prodigy. The use of sounds in their music was unlike anything else I heard at the time. Other artists like Luke Vibert, General Malice, and Remarc have also inspired me to push sound and create limitless music. While there are some rules to making music, genres like jazz have inspired me create more freely and use time signatures loosely. I sometimes like to break the rules in order to create patterns and sounds that challenge what music is supposed to be.

Anything else you’d like to add: 

I would like to share that many genres of music are heavily male dominated communities. It's important that women have their own voice in music for many reasons. The main reason for me is so that women have something to relate to. I know that in my own community, I am one of the very few women who produce jungle music. I am the only woman in the entire country who currently produces ragga jungle. My inspiration came from listening to a lot of music with lyrics geared towards men. Most of the lyrics were talking about men. While I could somewhat relate to it, I noticed that there was very little music with female vocals or lyrics that really spoke to me as a woman; so I began creating a lot of music with lyrics specially geared towards women. I hoped that I would inspire other women to create music that they could relate to also. Our forthcoming release this spring will be the very first vinyl record release ever in the jungle music community that features only women producers. The fact that this has never been done before is proof in itself that this is a male dominated genre of music.

Find Leah

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