James Talks DJ’ing, Inspiration, and the Creative Process

James Flanders, known musically as James, is an upcoming music producer coming out of Philadelphia. After recently quitting his job to pursue his passion, James is dialed in and ready to establish a name for himself in the future bass and electronic music scene. Riding the wave of his massive single titled ‘One More Night’ and his remix of Zedd’s ‘Clarity’, James has his sights set high as he rolls into 2021.

We sat down with James to discuss his inspirations, career goals, and more.

Check out the full interview below!

How did you get into making music?

I’ve loved music for a long, long time. I always had an interest in making it myself in high school and college but never dove in and learned. It seemed overwhelming, and I never thought it was something I could do. In my last year of college, I finally began messing around with Ableton. As college was winding down, I realized I needed to take finding a job and starting a career seriously. Since music was something I was always passionate about, I figured it was time to explore that avenue.

What drew you to electronic music?

 A few things. The big sell is the passion and energy that come with the music. There’s something about EDM music that really makes me feel. It’s a beautiful thing. Apart from that, though, I love the community. When I started going to these concerts, I was blown away by how friendly everyone was.

What’s your creative process? Do you have a specific routine, or does it vary depending on the day?

 When I’m starting a song, I always begin with the chord progression. The progression sets the mood for the entire song, so it’s a great place to start. From there, it’s kind of random. I build off the progression in no particular order, letting whatever ideas I’m hearing flow naturally. This way, I don’t confine myself to thinking, “I need to do the beat next” or “Now I have to do the melody.” I feel like that would be limiting and damper ideas coming naturally.

You recently took some time off from producing to sharpen your DJ skills. What was the most challenging part of that process?

Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I was lucky to have a few friends who knew how to DJ already that walked me through it. That and some YouTube videos. If you want to learn how to DJ, you can learn in a week if you put in an hour a day. The hardest part was having opportunities actually to put the skill to use! Nothing like learning how to DJ for a crowd during a quarantine when there can’t be crowds.

Your first-ever show was a live stream, which is becoming a great tool for new and established DJs alike. Do you believe live streams will be a new normal even when live music comes back?

I don’t think so. While they have been a great substitute for live music during quarantine, it really is just that – a substitute. You will never be able to match the real thing through a tv screen. Something I could see happening is putting live in-person concerts (when they come back) up to stream for people who can’t make the concert. I think that would be pretty cool.

You announced you quit your job to pursue music full time, which I applaud. Do you believe having that do-or-die attitude will push you further than having a plan b to fall back on?

 Thank you! I think it will. I think quitting the job made it real for me. While it was always in the back of my mind I wanted to make this music thing happen, I never really believed it WOULD happen while working. My job was my plan A and my career, so it’s where a lot of my energy went (even though I hated it). To anyone reading this who hates their job – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. It might take some hard work to make your passions your career, but it is undoubtedly worth it.

I love your clarity remix, and your live set was very euphoric and nostalgic. Who would you say are your biggest inspirations for your sound?

Thank you! That’s what I go for. I try to take inspiration from anyone I’m listening to, but I do take more from a few artists specifically. Illenium, Nurko, and Porter Robinson are a few to note. Like I said earlier, I like EDM music because it really makes me feel. These artists, in particular, drive that home for me. I want to give that amazing feeling I get from those artists to the people listening to my music.

Would you say there are any other genres aside from EDM that have an impact on your creative process?

 For sure! I grew up listening to rap and alternative. I always listened to a decent amount of classic rock as well (thanks, dad!!). I’m lucky to have parents who LOVE music and love a wide range of it too. I have no doubt that the exposure to so much good music over the years has impacted how I produce.

Who are your favorite artists at the moment?

Nurko, Illenium, Elderbrook, and Rüfüs Du Sol.

What was the best concert or festival you’ve been to and why?

 This is a tough one! I’ve been to so many amazing shows and festivals, which I feel very lucky for. If we’re talking specific concert, I’d say Flume at Firefly 2017. Flume’s music is so damn cool and different. Seeing that live was like no concert I’d been to before. So unique. Festival wise I’d say Ultra 2019. The lineup was an absolute beauty, and the setting was just magical in general. I also went with an amazing group of people.

If you could work with any artist from any genre, who would it be?

 I’m sounding like a broken record here but probably Illenium. He’s one of my bigger influences and also unbelievably talented. I could learn so much from him.

If you could accomplish one goal in your musical career, what would it be?

 When my adventure into making music is all said and done, whenever that may be, I just hope that it brought some positivity, love, and connection into this world. That’s what music is all about. If my music is able to do that, I’d be the happiest guy in the world.

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