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An Interview with Emerging London Artist James Chang

James Chang is a 26 year old artist with a passion for tech rhythmus and bangin’ beats. Born in Chester Hospital, in an “absolutely tiny, tiny town” and raised in Frodsham, James spent most of his teenage years in Ellesmere Port which, in James’ words  “really isn’t that nice a place” but it’s where he feels he became himself. Now, when he goes back home, he notes it feels very “hilly-billy, really far away from anything” after having lived in the busy, cosmopolitan city that is London.

I first met James at a Halloween party where he was dressed as a giant piece of bacon, it’s safe to say although his music seems brimming with deep emotions he has a comic side.

Getting to know a little more about him and his music

How did you first get into music?

“As every artists story seems to start, I played the piano at a very early age, in fact I can’t even recall how young I was, it was during my primary school days when I started playing the piano, or at least learning to play the piano. My sister was learning to play it and my mum could play it as well, so it just naturally fell down to me.”

“I remember very fondly my piano lessons,” he said as he reminisced about the massive grand piano his teacher, Rosemary, had in her living room, taking up most of the space. He wasn’t a fan of learning pieces for his grade exams so ended up just learning songs he liked and wanted to learn, like ‘Mad World’, Coldplay’s ‘Clocks’ and ’Trouble’, as well as some classical piano classics.

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How would you describe the kind of music you want to make? 

“I’m all over the place with that at the moment because I will sometimes have a mess around on the computer and I’ll make a composition, and I’ll sort of ask myself, how do I want this to sound? Sometimes I’ll want to make a kind of hip hop, dub step beat behind it, but I’m not entirely sure that’s something I actually want to make. Sometimes I’ll make another composition where it sounds kind of house-y, with a beat of 122 to 124, and I really want to make something like that, but at the same time on another occasion I’ll make some bangin’ piano composition where it sounds emotional as hell, and that doesn’t really fit into any genre which I really want to make.”

“Even with the release of my album some of the tracks are, genre wise, all over the place. I haven’t really tied down to any sort of genre. But the type of music I want to make is probably some house and techno tracks if possible, or maybe one off tracks with hip-hop or dub step beats.”

What is your creative process? Where do you get inspiration for songs?

“I probably go off what I listen to. I’ll try to broaden my horizons by trying to listen to different styles and types of music, if I can, and what will happen is that there are songs that I listen to where I will hear parts of the composition where I think it sounds really good, and the rest of the song is a bit meh, so I sort of listen to that and think “It would sounds really good if it had this little bit of extra composition added onto it and maybe went like this, or that” and then I’ll try to put it into the computer using my mini keyboard, and then I sort of go from there. There is no way the two tracks will sound the same because I’ve got my own way of doing things.”

James spoke of how he got inspiration from Paul Woolford’s “Untitled” when making “Ljubav” on his Alpha Album, which apparently “sounds nothing like” “Untitled”.

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Who are your inspirations/role models?

“Artists wise the main pinnacle thing for me, especially when going into this form of dance music, is at a young age listening to Deadmau5, especially hearing Random Album Title, which really got to me. Hearing some of his other individual tracks like ‘Jaded’ is a big one for me too, that goes deep with me. ‘Brazil’ is a brilliant one, ‘I Remember’, these are really pinnacle tracks for me, where it’s made me feel really good about myself when I hear them, and it just made me think: “This sounds so good I’d love to do something like this myself.” But at the time when I was listening to them, I didn’t want to do that because all I knew was the piano – I didn’t know anything else. I don’t know about making music electronically.”

“In the later stages of making music, I would definitely say a shout-out to different artists that have helped me along the way are artists like: Waze & Odyssey, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Subtract, in finding my way, and Recondite. I listen to a lot of Recondite when I’m on the way to work and what have you, and I would love to make tracks like what Recondite makes, but I’m nowhere near close to him in skill. It’s the same with TEED because he uses vocals in most, almost all of his tracks, using his own vocals, and I thought about the idea of doing that myself and just, No! I have already tried my voice and it sounded absolutely god-awful, so I was like hell-no I’m not doing that. There are definitely more artists that have inspired me but I just can’t think of them right now.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“The dream for me is that I would have liked to have gotten bigger with selling music and producing music, so I would like to see myself either having my own label to manage with other people, or being under a label. Also, I would like to see myself continuing to make music, continuing to be creative, but on a full-time basis where I don’t have to work at a job. I don’t want to keep doing jobs where I just do the daily grind and don’t really progress. I just want to sit there and creatively make pieces of music, that I really want to make, and get paid for it.”

“Aside from that, like most young people who want to do the same thing as me, I’d like to DJ, primarily I’d like to make and produce my own music, but I’d also like to DJ. Obviously places like Ibiza would be amazing places to DJ. In five years time if I could be doing all that it would be amazing, the dream!”

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What is the best gig you have ever been to?

I have to pick one. Crikey! Oh God, what could that be? Well I can’t really say a festival because lots of things happen at a festival, so I’d have to pinpoint it down to one party. I would probably say, oh god, it’s really hard. I think the one party that has been the absolute pinnacle for me was a boat party in Croatia. It was during Unknown Festival 2013, and it was Waze & Odyssey and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. They both did DJ sets, and it was on this boat, and it wasn’t a case of them being on a big stage, it was just them with their decks set up on the table and a sound system, and it was really close knit. It felt really exclusive, it felt non-commercial, it just felt like we were having a real, natural party.”

“It’s kind of hard to explain, it was all about the vibes, it was all about the vibrations that were going on at that time. You had to have been there to witness it. Everyone in the crowd was absolutely buzzing, everyone was loving it, it was a beautiful day, and wild things happened, like while we were sailing out dolphins turned up at the party – not like literally, like dancing around – but, swimming around at the front, and when you’ve had a couple of drinks that’s the last thing you expect to see, so that was crazy.“

“Everyone met there, everyone was happy, everyone was vibing off each other, and even the state of the toilets weren’t getting anyone down, everyone was laughing and joking about it, and from what I can remember they were terrible, with no lock on the door. Everyone was raving it up, and there was no real security to tell people they couldn’t go in certain areas, like where I was dancing, I was dancing literally right next to Ways Odessey and SBTRKT when they were DJing. It went on for like three and a half hours, and it was all in the middle of the day, and even when we were on the way back and we’d stopped, the DJs were just sat around chilling, we managed to meet them all, I had a nice chat with them all, we were all taking pictures, and the group organisers got a massive group picture of us all, and it was just all really, just so many vibes and so brilliant. Then when we got off the boat it was only half four in the afternoon, so we still had the rest of the day! Best party!

Describe yourself in three words?

Honest. I’m usually quite point blank honest with people.
Sarcastic.

Comedic.

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Where can you listen to his music?

All his music is free, but you can contribute a little something if you want to help this artist along the way as he tries to make it in the expensive city that is London, where it seems you are perpetually skint.

He’s already got his next track ready for release; he just needs to send it off to be mastered. That should be out around Christmas so keep an eye out for it on his Facebook page.

Enjoy!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamjameschang/?fref=ts

Bandcamp: http://jameschang1.bandcamp.com/

Website: http://www.jameschang.co.uk/

Soundcloud Account: https://soundcloud.com/james-chang-8

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk_nWaz_ntZ8L7Hv46vXI-w

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