This month we interviewed Robert James, one of the most promising house talents within UK. After succesful releases in Hot Creations and smashing dancefloors worldwide, it is time to know a bit more in depth one of the characters that are re-writing the house sound in England.
Mixside: After the explosion of “Sleep Moods” last summer, your life has considerably changed. How were your experiences playing in USA, Moscow, etc? And what about the people’s feedback?
Robert James: Yeah things are definitely on the up since last summer and at the moment everything’s going really well for me. Its something I’ve wanted to do for a long time so I’m really happy at the moment. To get to play in places like the States and Russia is in a dream come true. The general feedback has been wicked, I’ve just got to keep it up.
MS: The track named before was on fire during all the last summer season in Ibiza. Was that success something you could see it coming or did it take you by surprise?
RJ: No not at all, as it was my first release I didn’t think it would come this quick with all the gigs and stuff. I knew it was quite a big track though as watching Jamie Jones, Lee Foss and others play it out and seeing the reaction in the crowd.
MS: Recently, I have interviewed your mate Russ Yallop who told about your great relationship and about your clubber life. Was there a particular moment in time, i.e. a club night, a gig, a festival when you decided you wanted to be behind the decks or in the studio?
RJ: Yeah Russ is really good mate of mine and we have been parting for years. I got into DJing as soon as I left the Army, there wasn’t a particular night. A lot of my mates had decks and we used to go out every weekend to places like Sankey Soaps in Manchester, Circus in Liverpool and Dirty Disco in Leeds. So I’d say it was my mates who got me into DJing.
MS: In the world of arts, artists growing fast and receiving great public acclaim in a short period of time, usually go down in the same way. Due the immense quantity of artists out there, regulated by the forces within the industry, it is harder to stay on top once you get there. Do you feel like this could be your case or are you confident with the way your career is going?
RJ: I would say im no where near the top yet so ive got a long way to go. I want to make a Career out of music so im expecting to be here for a long time. As long as im getting gig able to get in the studio and pay my rent im a happy person.
MS: Other group of artists, especially within the music scene, just become “sell-outs” as soon as they achieve fame. I could give some names, but I think everyone knows about whom I am talking about. Would you shift to a more commercial, mainstream kind of music just to stay on top?
RJ: No not at all, I love the underground scene too much. I do see people doing that though for the money and if that’s what they want to do then that’s up to them. I’m in it purely for the music.
RJ: We have been mates for quite some time now as we both were living in Leeds, Burnski has sinced moved to London in which I’m planning to do after the summer. We decided one day to get in the studio together and the first track we made was Malibu, so we knew then we could definitely collaborate again in the future. Look out for some new stuff coming very soon.
MS: Your hometown Leeds has always been one of the UK’s bastions for house music. Since the times of “Back To Basics” to the relatively recent success of clubs like The Mint, always there was a night bringing to the city most of the finest house acts. You have been a regular fixture of The Mint and other Leeds’ clubs for the last two years. What can you tell us about that experience? What are the main differences between playing there and other of your regular fixtures as Zoo Project or Space Ibiza?
RJ: Yeah Leeds is amazing for the dance scene be it house, techno or disco. There’s a night for what ever music your into. I’ve loved living in Leeds, met a lot of friends who are into the same music and watched some of the best DJs in the world smash Back to Basics and places like the Mint Club. Playing in Leeds feels like playing at home even though I’m not from here, the people are so friendly and know how to have it off in a club. I’ve seen Clubs in Leeds having it off on the dance floor as much as dance floors in Ibiza. Still there’s no place quite like Ibiza, its my favourite place on earth so to play out there is still something really special there. I can’t wait for the summer this year, I reckon it’s going to be a big one as there are alot of people on fire at the moment in our scene.
MS: Do you agree with Dixon, from Innervisions, that to some extent the figure of the resident DJ is being lost in favour of big international names?
RJ: I disagree as for the UK I’ve got a lot of friends who are a still rocking it as big residents. Look at the likes Buckley and Tristan Da Cunha at Back to Basics in Leeds or Subb-an and Adam Shelton at Below in Birmingham, they’re all still smashing it. Big international Djs have always been around. Look at Dj’s like Carl Cox and Sven Vath they’ve been at the top of their game for as long as I can remember.
MS: You are both DJ and producer. Do you think it is possible nowadays to become an outstanding DJ without getting into the studio?
RJ: Nowadays I think you have to be producing music to get somewhere as there are so many people wanting to get into the music business. I would like to think you can still make it as just a DJ but the demand for DJs is much more than back in the day. But on the plus side a lot better music is getting made these days as people are having to get in the studio.
MS: Both “arts” have currently undergone a process of democratization. Djing is much easier nowadays thanks to software and a music production home studio can be afforded by almost everyone. What are you thoughts about this issue?
RJ: I think it’s a good thing with being able to afford a home studio, why not have a go at trying to make music? With it being easier to DJ, people just using their laptops to sync tracks and I’m not into that. I’ll always use CD’s and Vinyl.
MS: Going a bit further, what do you think makes a difference nowadays between an outstanding electronic music artist and the rest of the crew? It looks like PR and ‘connectivity’ are playing a crucial role lately…
RJ: Yeah having the right PR work is a strong point but its also what your doing. If your making outstanding music and smashing dance floors across the globe then that kind of speaks for itself.
MS: Finally, summer is here, how does it look your agenda for the next months?
RJ: Yeah I can’t wait for summer. I’ve got loads of interesting gigs coming up, I’m playing Hot Natured parties in Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Detroit. I just played in St Petersburg with Richy Ahemd last weekend. I’ve got a few festivals over the summer as well which I’m looking forward to like the Hideout Festival in Croatia and also the Secret Garden party in the UK. It’s looking to be another good summer… bring on the sun : )
MS: Thank you very much Robert.
RJ: Thanks to Mixside and its readership.
Interview in Spanish: HERE
Robert James ‘Mindscaping’ is out now on Hot Waves