James West interviewed ahead of ORIGIN 2017
Seemingly out of nowhere James West appeared on the Nano Records’ compilation called ORIGIN 5 back in 2015 with his debut release, Lost Horizons and we all asked, ‘who is this kid?’
“…music can make me feel so much so quickly if it touches the right combination of notes.”
Nano Boss, Regan had said James West was his best kept secret but that cat is now firmly out the bag with his 2016 EP release, ‘Our Time,’ and an album near completion.
James will perform at ORIGIN 2017 at the end of January and his is a name I am confident fans of liquid psychedelia will certainly remember after this first time performance in South Africa.
So who is he, what makes him tick and why should we care?
I chatted to James West to find out more and was pleasantly impressed by his thoughtful responses…
First question: When are we going to hear more of your awesome psychedelic sounds being released?
James West: Very soon! It has been too long I must say; a busy year for me with a lot of progress in the studio and a transition in my life in general. Coming up imminently, my new E.P. on Nano and a track on the upcoming Avalon remix album; expect more releases more regularly as the year goes on.
Nano Records is without doubt a leading purveyor of proper psychedelic trance music! When you look at your artist colleagues on their roster, it must be kinda surreal…
James West: Agreed! Nano rocks and it has done for a long time, its sounds are a big reason I made the choice to focus all my energy on this music. Not so much surreal, maybe a little, but I really believed in myself from the start and devoted a lot, but I was lucky the crew believed in me; it’s an honor.
You deejayed for some time before trying your hand at producing. I’ve seen a lot of producers who make great music but really fail as DJs. What’s your take on DJing vs. LIVE sets since you’ve done both now?
James West: Well, there is no competition between the two, a DJ serves in an ever invaluable position to transition the dance floor and take the audience on any journey they think is best at a given moment, the two aspects are harmonious to anyone who wants the best overall musical experience. When I started to play my own music to an audience, it was a much greater feeling, playing other people’s music was not so important to me anymore.
Do you think coming from the DJ background makes one more dancefloor conscious when composing the music?
James West: Definitely, if you already have a passion for it and go to a lot of parties and festivals because you love doing it, you will already have found the vibe you really fit and want to add to; track arrangement will also make more sense.
What’s your day job?
James West: For the last couple of years none, I worked a few years after finishing university but now just write music full time.
One thing that really impresses me about your music is the musicality. Psytrance is often criticized by naysayers for not being ‘real music,’ assumedly due mainly to the more sci-fi and less conventional sounds used. You’ve struck a nice balance between psychedelic sounds and melodic soundscapes. Was this your intention when you started out or did the melodic elements develop organically?
James West: It’s something which has developed as I have realised how important it is to me. It is everything when I listen to music; I think I am particularly sensitive to it; music can make me feel so much so quickly if it touches the right combination of notes. The more I wrote music the more I wanted to include as much emotion as possible and the trance which I listened to without elements which really talk to you, I started to be less inspired by.
If you were pressed to name your influences, which psy artists would you say impacted on you the most?
James West: Psychedelic artists who made me want to produce full on music; so I was really inspired when the Avalon and Sonic Species albums dropped, both ground breaking and journey rich. I have also always been heavily inspired by harder edged full on trance artists who can push production and melody like Brainiac and Waio.
Outside of psytrance do you listen to a lot of other electronic music (name a few) or are you more of a conventional rock kinda guy?
James West: Yea, right now I am listening to liquid drum and bass, I listen to a fair amount of techno and more commercial trance also. I played drums in bands when I was a teenager but went to Ibiza when I was 18 and basically had my mind blown ha-ha; I listen to lots of different electronic music.
“I’m fully up for partying and experiencing with you all, this is what it is all about for me, all the hard work is so I can showcase my expression to those that want to listen.”
UK psy has a very distinctive sound and you definitely exhibit a few of those elements in your own compositions but off the bat, I don’t think aficionados would immediately guess you’re a ‘pommie.’ Is this a fair assessment?
James West: Yea maybe so, it’s just my style. I have lots of friends who produce music which I’m sure would get classed under that UK sound, but I broke away from what everyone around me was doing. People describe my music a lot as original or experimental and I’m glad, because if it was interesting then for me I achieved what I tried to and what is often lacking for me with electronic music.
You look too young to having deejayed for THAT long before producing. Give us a timeline from when you first started; where, when, how? And when you first decided to write some music.
James West: Ha-ha, so I had just turned 18 when I got super inspired by electronic music, after that I started going to underground trance nights in Bristol, luckily Tribe of Frog was on my doorstep and my dad was already going there regularly. At a really beautiful outdoor party that summer a friend of mine who was already DJing there told me to buy some decks, as I had started playing with the idea, I did. So after around 6 months of downloading everything I could get my hands on, I played my first outdoor party under a bridge next to the big river that runs through Bristol; I started playing Tribe of Frog not long after.
I started producing around 4 years ago, because I thought I had something to add to the music and felt more and more inspired after visiting some larger parties around the world. It was a really natural path, nothing else came close in my life as the attraction towards the scene as a whole; I just got drawn in!
South Africa! Cape Town!! Origin Festival!!! It does not get much bigger than this in our country. Excited much? I’m sure you’ve been offered a few tips, stories about our parties here…
James West: It’s a biggie! Yea I’m fully up for partying and experiencing with you all, this is what it is all about for me, all the hard work is so I can showcase my expression to those that want to listen. Let’s make the stories!
Final shout out ahead of your visit to the “Cape of Good Dope…”
James West: My shout outs will always be to those who have believed in me and continue to do so and on this occasion to the amazing people of SA for coming to see me play. Cheers!