(Original Photo By: Adam Elmakias)

It’s okay to be normal. It’s okay to be weird. As long as you’re happy within your own skin, who cares what your label is? That’s one of the first lessons I learned from Jordan Atkins-Loria, better known as Lucky Date. Over the past seven years he’s been a staple within the dance scene, with major releases like chart-topping single “Fall Into The Sky” with Zedd and Ellie Goulding (2012), “Freak” on Warpath Group (2013), an original collaboration with Moby titled “Delay” on Spinnin’ Records (2014), and an official remix for Hardwell’s “Apollo” released on Revealed Recordings (2013). On this episode of Aspire to Inspire, the California native talks about his awkward past, the struggle to please everyone, and some new exciting changes to his career.

The story of Lucky Date begins in high school. He grew up on rap music in his Bay Area hometown, wanting to work with local artists as he began to produce. After hearing a female DJ play Body Rock’s “Yeah Yeah” at a party, he completely fell in love with music for the first time. Many people who are currently in their 20s and 30s know that liking dance music as recent as 10 years ago wasn’t the trend. As a result, Jordan had only a small group of friends who enjoyed dance music and would attend warehouse raves with him, leading him to actively choose not to try to fit in with the “cool kids” in high school.

Though, Jordan admits that there was a good chance he wouldn’t have fit in much anyway, as he was occasionally anxious around certain groups of people. Of all the hardships that came early in his life – the death of his grandparents, his parent’s divorce – his acute social anxiety may have been the hardest thing to overcome. Starting to tour at 19 helped him become more comfortable in his own skin. It’s not like he had much of a choice; being in front of large crowds, and having nowhere to hide forces you to have to open up in a sense. Many may not know this, but Lucky Date was once two people – Jordan and his best friend from high school, who’s still his best friend and roommate today. The two produced together, and when Jordan left for college in Chicago, he started getting more into producing and played more shows while his friend attended school back home.

Even though he enjoyed a good amount of success in the early years, Jordan regrets not being focused enough to do more. The big EDM boom took place when he was in his early 20s, when he took a much more lax approach to making music. Looking back on it, he wishes he had the work ethic that he does now; for there was a chance his career could have been even bigger than it is today. Still, that’s not to say that he’s unhappy; whereas many of these DJs spend so much time on the road traveling and feeling burnt out, Jordan’s home life provides balance.

After seven years of DJing, his secret to being able to produce and stay healthy is by not partying too hard. It’s important to not let your work take over you, so that you can make time for the people in your life. Jordan tries to produce while his friends are at work, so that he can enjoy some time off with them, which in turn, helps to take his mind off of dance music. That’s the biggest lesson he has for the younger generation of producers. Learn how to manage your time, and don’t stop working just because you get stuck on music. Jordan has many other tasks – using social media, working on his podcast, even creating new tutorials for emerging producers. And no matter what he does, he does it with a serious passion.

As much as Jordan loves dance music, he frequently finds himself frustrated as well. It’s not just from the scene and its waves of innovation and stagnation; it’s a frustration one finds within too. One of the biggest challenges as a musician is to not only stay true to yourself, but to also constantly create new sounds and evolve musically. Jordan has never felt comfortable or fully satisfied with the state of his music. Even to this day, he remains very self-critical, over-thinking his decisions and being scared to show his music to people, even his friends. It has also caused many difficulties that made his music suffer as well.

I was feeling like I didn’t know where my music was coming from anymore. I was writing, but I felt like I lost touch with the current sound and the way it meshed with my older sound. There was a clash between what people wanted to hear and what I wanted people to hear and I was in a constant struggle with writing the perfect music, the hit.

In order to fall back in love with dance music, Jordan found a new creative outlet. Starting from scratch, without the history and pressure of Lucky Date behind it, gave him a new outlook and passion for production again. This also resulted in Jordan taking more risks in his main project, finally breaking down a mental wall. Though he doesn’t mind if people don’t like his new alias (which we should hopefully get to hear later this year), the new process has proven to be therapeutic, giving him a satisfaction for his music for the first time in a long time.

You might have heard this from your favorite DJs before, but Jordan hopes his feel-good music inspires people to be themselves. It’s a statement that begs to be repeated as long as there are producers or even just people in general who try to copy what’s popular, rather than seek to set themselves apart. To those people, the ones who make music worth spending hours on Soundcloud to get to, it makes music fun for Jordan. Dance music is so special in that it’s always changing and evolving. This force is what drives him to continue his YouTube tutorial videos, so that aspiring producers can have all the tools they need to help change the tide against labels and managers who try to dictate to artists what to make and what to put out. Though neither are suppressive entities to Jordan’s career. As he moves forward with the next phase of his career, he’s surrounded by not only the support of the industry, but his friends, family, and girlfriend too. And for him, that’s more than enough to stay motivated and persevere.