Interview with James Black Presents

Artist

This time, we get to know James Black Presents, a highly skilled electronic music producer, DJ, and remixer. 

37 year old music producer and DJ, from UK, currently living in Brighton. I have been a DJ for 22 years and I have been producing music since 2004. I had my first track signed in 2012. I have a DJ residency in London for a Techno night called ‘Dark Matter’ and I am a regular livestream DJ on Twitch (www.twitch.tv/djjamesblack) . I love many styles of music; from Techno and Trance to Heavy Metal and Drum and Bass, Classic Hip Hop to Synthwave and Lo-Fi.

Where are you from?
I am from the UK, and I am currently living in Brighton, a town on the south coast of England – although I have live in a few places in the UK.

What is your main genre?
I DJ mainly Techno and Trance, but I enjoy listening to heavy metal, drum and bass, Classic hip hop, synthwave and LoFi.

How long have you been making music?
Over 20 years now, after hearing the production of Fatboy Slim and hearing how he uses samples to make new songs, I was inspired to do the same.

Can you tell us about your latest release and the background behind it?
My latest release is my forthcoming EP on Keep On Techno Records, called ‘Kitchen Raver’; it has 2 original tracks of mine along with a remix by the wonderfully talented Felix R. It is inspired by my Sunday livestreams, called ‘The Twitch’n Kitch’n Sunday Techno Disco’; I play a lot of heavy and acidic Techno and the music on this release really mirrors the style and sound of music I like to play. I preview and demo a lot of my own material with my regular viewers and judging on their reaction, I will know if the track will work in future DJ sets in real clubs or if it needs modification. Always striving for the best. The EP is released early May and I’m really excited about playing the tracks live in clubs, as Techno is designed for big soundsystems.

What do you think of the music industry after 2022?
The music industry is evolving all the time. The COVID lockdown showed how DJs were able to take their performances online with livestreaming on Twitch, Mixcloud, Facebook and Youtube. It really shows the dexterity and the desire to perform, and people who like clubbing and raving were prepared to turn their rooms into mini nightclubs, with flashing lights. I think lockdown really showed society the power of music, the need to dance and the escapism which music provides. Livestreaming (watching your DJ at home) has changed the music industry as I feel it has has replaced radio. For example, when you want some music in your house for a party or are getting ready to go out, do you put on the radio or do you put on one of your favourite DJs on a streaming service? Seeing your DJ play the records not only makes it feel like you’re in a club, but its so much more stimulating on the sense to see the DJ, see the graphics they use compared to a radio which doesn’t have that. Also interacting with the DJ on streaming services make the experience more personal.

Of course, livestreaming is still a grey area in that the DMCA laws still applies and DJs can be removed from services for playing copyrighted material. HOWEVER, ask ANY music producer (who has signed their tracks to record labels) if they mind their songs being played on stream by DJs, and I promise you, the artist will not mind at all, and often it is simply the corporations chasing the few pennies / cents / yen of licensing money. These corporations makes out that artists miss out on royalties, but I royalty payments are so small, they are hardly worth bothering about – look up royalty payments for artists. I’ve had sucessful friends who are signed to major dance labels get royalty checks for 20p – about 32 Yen!

I am all for paying artists fairly, but hitting livestreaming DJs for playing the tracks ‘illegally’ on stream isn’t the way to do things; often a DJ playing a track will give it exposure to sell more copies – I’ve heard DJs play tracks which I loved, I ‘shazamed’ it (a song recognition app) and then bought said track! Offering producers better contracts with fairer percentages, that’s the way!

Facebook have also worked out digital ‘listening’ algorithms which prevent DJs playing copyrighted material on your homepage, it terminates the livestream. Twitch at the moment only sends out warnings to DJs. Mixcloud claims to be legitimate as it has a charging fee you have to pay to use its professional streaming service, and Mixcloud claim that the monthly user fees go to paying the licensing to use copyrighted material. From experience, Mixcloud’s user interface is clumsy and inferior compared to the features and design of Twitch, will is currently a livestream DJ’s favourite place to perform live.

Sorry, I have talked a lot but I am passionate about the music industry having been a part of it for so long. – No problem. We would love to know what you think.

Other future points; + virtual / VR performances – these already exist to some extent, but need refinement. You will pay to be virtually at a concert which you watch on headset. + livestreaming will be here to stay after it made such an impact through lockdown; it wont be as successful / busy because nightclubs and festivals are open again (for the moment) but there is definitely a place for it.

Who is the most influential artist in your life?
Fatboy Slim, without question. His production style of taking samples and digitally manipulating them into new songs is genius. It is a practice that evolved out of the hip-hip scene but Fatboy Slim pretty much took it to the #1 spot and crafted the UK sound of ‘Big Beat’ – which combines elements of hip-hop, breakbeat, rave and house music. It was most apparent in UK music scene in the mid to late 90s.

He is one of the reasons I moved to Brighton as he lives here also so Brighton feels like the spiritual home to the music I love. Luckily enough I have met him a few times now and he has even played one of my remixes in his DJ sets.

How do you feel you differ from other artist?
I differ because I don’t have one particular sound. I make music and whatever ‘falls out of my head’ during a production session tends to dictate the style its going to be in. I never set out to make ‘a techno record’, I just make music and if it goes that way then I can label it. But nothing stops creativity, a free art form, than trying to force yourself into one genre. I agree that this then makes me unmarketable and hard to sell as an artist because I cannot be defined by one genre, but creativity, especially in music, shouldn’t be fenced in like that.

For me, making music is like pulling threads on a tapestry. Sometimes you find a thread, start pulling and the thread falls out and inspiration is lost. However, when you find a thread and start pulling, and it goes and goes; a natural flow takes over, I get into a zone and usually can produce most of a track in about 2 days. I have found through personal experience and watching production documentaries that most decent songs are produced in around 2 days because it allows for the original idea and inspiration for the song to remain fresh and current in your mind.

Often producers go ‘stale’ on a track they have been producing for a long time because the original spark of inspiration is long gone. This is reflected in the track as the track also sounds stale, bored and directionless.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
Fatboy Slim.

What was the first album you bought?
‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson. I got it on cassette tape and I was about 5 or 6 years old.

What is your favorite song at the moment?
Beardman – Every End Is A Beginning. Every sound on that record he made with his mouth and digitally altered it, its stunning and inspiring, watch it!

What is your favorite words?
Paid DJ gig.

What other hobbies or interests do you have?
I try and go to the gym 2-3 times per week, seeing friends and watching good movies. But realistically, outside my job, I devote a lot of time to music production and DJing / livestreaming; its the only way to succeed as the competition is very strong so you need to dedicate as much time as you can to your art.

Tell us more about your upcoming project?
I’ve got a few projects on the go at any one time, I always have about 3 tracks being worked on at the same time. If one idea isn’t working out, try another idea. One day your brain might not want to make techno, so you make something else, and you can always come back to the Techno track if the mood is there. NEVER force creativity.

Any comment 
Thankyou to Chieri for supporting music from the many many producers trying to get notice or exposure on the internet. It is a crowded pond so any shred of light is thoroughly appreciated; whether that be through interviews or having your track features on a playlist. Thankyou for supporting music, we musicians, producers and DJs thank you gracefully!

Thank you for the interview, which shows your enthusiasm for music and DJ playing. We enjoyed it too. future-player.com will continue to support James Black presents.

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