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Interview | Who's that girl?

... it's Jess Bays! Cuckoo Land's new resident.

Under Shoreditch's railway arches, against the gritty, inner-city backdrop of Village Underground, Ibiza's sunkissed beaches seem a far cry away. Outside the venue, the February wind cuts through you. But Jess Bays has summer on her mind - and she has good reason to.

It's just been announced that she will be the new resident for Cuckoo Land, Ibiza Rocks' Friday daytime pool party.

Tonight, Jess is supporting her friend Will, better known as Low Steppa, on the several times-delayed London leg of his Boiling Point tour. "I'm so excited to play in London. I haven't played here for so long," she tells us, soon after being introduced.

"This show was supposed to happen two years ago, before Covid struck. Now we're finally here, I'm so happy it's happening."

Jess hands over to Low Steppa at Village Underground

At this present moment, you'd be hard pressed to find a DJ as busy, or as focused, as Jess Bays.

Forget stalling, during lockdown Jess has been one of the few DJs whose career has fizzed to new heights.

Since 2020, she's put out tracks on Stress Records, Good Company, FFRR, D4 D4NCE, EMI, Polydor and Atlantic. Further to that, she's also landed the 16:00 to 19:00 Sunday evening gig on Capital Dance radio. The girl is going places.

In a few days, Jess takes the next big stride - fronting one of Ibiza's most established parties. We get the sense she's excited.

Who's that girl? ... it's Jess!

We weave to the front of the venue. Village Underground is already filling up. Jess motions to security, sorts an AAA wristband and leads us backstage.

She offers a drink but tells us she's not drinking herself. "I need a clear head for Capital tomorrow," she reasons. Fair enough. Her blossoming broadcasting career is the first topic of conversation.

"I'm eight months in now and it's amazing. It was a new challenge for me to take on. I love Capital Dance. Before lockdown, I was focused purely on being a DJ. I hadn't even realised radio was an option for me to pursue.

I'm on every Sunday, 16:00 to 19:00. It's a new set of skills that I had to learn - it takes a lot of hard work. I'm still learning and still growing as a broadcaster, but I love it so, so, so much. There's so much good new dance music around at the moment."

There's no questioning Jess' passion for her new role. But, primarily, we're here tonight to discuss another new appointment: her new summer residency at Cuckoo Land, the Friday daytime pool party at Ibiza Rocks.

Thanks for making this happen at such short notice. I suppose we need to start with your very first Ibiza memories.

"It's got to be one of the girls' holidays. When you arrive and you're just like, 'what is this planet we've come to?' Everybody just cares about music and nothing else. You jump on a plane and arrive somewhere where everything is based around music. That's it for me. Memories forever."

You can't beat a holiday with your mates. Okay, your plane has just landed. What's the first thing you're doing?

"Come out of the airport, straight down to 'Bossa, sit on the beach for a bit. Then out on a boat, go to Es Vedra. Of course Ibiza Rocks during the afternoon, then onto Café Mambo and end the night at Defected. Watch the sun come up with my girls. There we go. That's me done."

Interesting that you mention Defected, since you're best mates with Sam Divine and good friends with Low Steppa. They will almost certainly be residents for Defected.

That lends itself quite well to being the ideal San Antonio double-header: Cuckoo Land in the day and moving onto Defected at night!

"What an amazing day!

I mean, I'll literally be finishing work on a Thursday, flying out to Ibiza, coming for the pool party on Friday and then going to Defected in the evening."

Friends embrace on the Cuckoo Land dancefloor

"What a summer we've got lined-up. The line-ups are going to be incredible. I'm there every single week - all 18 parties. So you've got us during the day at Ibiza Rocks and Defected doing the night at Eden. Absolute perfection. And if you can squeeze in a Mambo sunset in between,

And will you be flying in and out for the shows? Or will you have a more permanent base on Ibiza?

"At the moment, I'm in a pretty zen place, so I'm going to try and spend some time in Ibiza just relaxing. Because of my commitments to Capital, I'm going to be flying in and out to a large extent. But who knows? I'm ready to buckle my seatbelt and just go along for the ride."

How will that fit in with the rest of your schedule?

"It's pretty rammed, but Cuckoo Land is a real focus for me this year. I'm ready to get stuck in.

I've never done a residency before. This is my first one. I'm excited to discover new things on the island that I haven't done before. Creating a new family of friends as well. It's going to be incredible."

It's perhaps a little early to call right now, but what do you think will be Cuckoo Land's summer anthem?

"You know what, I really, really like Belters Only's Make Me Feel Good."

"I love this track. It's only come now, in January, but I feel like it's just going to go on. I'm sure it's going to continue all summer. You're gonna hear it tonight. I'm going to play a special edit of it as well."

Sell us Cuckoo Land - why should we come?

"You should come to Cuckoo Land every Friday because that is going to be the biggest party on the planet, trust me. It's going to be so much fun. We're going to get down! Vocal House, happy vibes, nostalgia."

Sum up the party in three words. Go!

"Three words? I'm going with: magical, moments and memories. Those three things. That's what it's all about."

We're expecting Jess to tell us she's chilling out for the next few weeks, but we should've known better.

"Temptation is my new single with Poppy Baskcomb. It's by far the most I've put into a track. A lot of work has gone into it. There's a lot of my influences in there: Dennis Ferrer, Franky Rizardo. I hope people will be able to hear that.

It's out on 25 February and I'm ready for the world to hear it. I'm really proud of this track."

"In a few weeks time, I launch my own label, Superstore Records. Then there's all the festivals. I got the nod for Creamfields as well - that's a dream come true for me. A big tick off the bucket list.

I did cry when that came in, not gonna lie. It means you care, right? I'm a very happy girl."

She's beaming - and she has every right to be. What a girl.

Our chat has come to an end. Jess is due on. There's just enough time to wish her the best for her set.

"You are going to get chunky, funky vibes from me tonight. This is going to be a little kick-start for summer. There's a lot of positivity in the air. Let's go!"

As we relocate to the back of the venue, looking out over the expanse of bodies, Jess takes her place behind the decks and looks totally at home. Nerves? No way. Her animated performance and crowd interaction, delivered alongside a volley of tunes, gives the dancefloor exactly what it came for, setting the groundworks perfectly for Low Steppa to follow.

In quick succession, Jess chops-and-changes between Paluma's Rapture, Honey Bee by Ninetoes and the Jasper James remix of Bring U Up, redirecting energy onto the masses below.

Cuckoo Land has a new sheriff in town. We think the party is in very safe hands with Jess Bays.

IMAGES | supplied by R.T. Visuals

Tickets for all 18 dates at Cuckoo Land can be purchased below at the early bird price of €15.

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