Progressive-Sounds: ALiVE is your latest compilation, your third in as many years. How was the concept of the album devised, and do you feel it reflects not only what you do as a DJ, but shows where you are in your career more so than your previous compilations?
James: The concept of the album WAS to reflect upon what you might hear when you come and see me play and I certainly feel I have achieved this more so than my previous comps.. so... Yes!
Progressive-Sounds:The past few months has seen your career advance rapidly, not only developing and expanding your skills, but also seeing you spend more and more time flying around the globe playing at events and clubs of all different persuasions as an headliner in your own right? Do you feel you've learnt a lot more in this short time period than at any time previously?
James: Yes again, I guess the more you play out the more you're in the zone as it were and as I've been playing so much this year I've felt that I've a fair bit of practice especially when it come to reading crowds and such. Something that's difficult to learn from the bedroom.
Progressive-Sounds: You recently went to Japan and spent a week working with Pioneer helping to test some of the new DJ hardware they have in development, and have also recently added their new DVJX1 dvd player to your setup. How did you feel being asked to go and help develop some of these new tools, and what do you feel the DVJX1 will add to your sets?
James: To go to Japan and play a part in the development of future projects is amazing! Getting to air my opinion to a massive company like Pioneer who seem very willing to listen is very satisfying especially when I've been a fan of their equipment for such a long time now. The DVJ-X1 adds a new dimension to my sets, often you'll see me goofing around with various loops and samples in a regular set, except now when I do all that it'll be represented visually as well. Like for example, in my Essential Mix for Radio 1 earlier this year I used a lot of film samples in there. Imagine doing that in a live scenario where the excepts of the film appear on a massive screen for everyone to see. There's a lot of scope to be creative with them I've been recording scenes with myself as a newsreader for some DJ intro's as well as having the Star Wars style scrolling text as another, except with the words changed of course "...Zabiela races home aboard his starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save his people and restore freedom to the galaxy..." That sort of thing. I also have visual artist Grete Johansen, who fortunately happens to be my girlfriend producing various original visuals synced up to tracks so I can use them in my sets.
Progressive-Sounds: If you were given the chance to play at a skateboarding event, would you be tempted to enter and skate yourself as Darth Vader, and what trick would you say is your speciality?
James: Yeah, that'd be sweet! But the trouble with the Darth Vader Helmet I have is that your vision is very impaired and even just skating in a straight line isn't the easiest of tasks so I guess my best trick would be called something like "Falling-on-my-Arse".
Progressive-Sounds: Hearing Aid is your label, your outlet for some of your favourite tracks. Not really a label that religiously puts out music, but in it's short history has provided two great singles by Brass Monkey and Dave Robertson, with a forthcoming release from Jeff Bennett. Are you happy with how the label has been received, do you have any other releases lined up, and are there plans to expand the label into the digital market that seems to be booming at the moment?
James: I'm happy to put out the occasional record but being a business man isn't my thing really. I'll look out for some nice tracks and past them on to Paul Sidoli, I'm sort of like a part time A & R man. I have a lot of respect for someone like John Digweed or Desyn who manage to juggle their time with DJing, production and running labels whilst still delivering the goods on the dance floor. I would feel if were to do this at this point in time I'd be spreading myself too thin, but I'm looking at Beatport or somewhere like to that put out unreleased digital downloads. We're planning to release PJ Davy's remix of Dave Robertson's 'Can it Happen' as Hearing Aid download number one as it was just as popular as the actual release with Hernan Cattaneo charting it as his number one track.
Progressive-Sounds: Your production career has seen you remix artists from Royksopp to Pole Folder, not to mention bootlegs and mash ups of such legends as Depeche Mode and Underworld, but word has it that you've been slowly amassing some of your own original productions finally, with rumours of you possibility collaborating with Kriece and Jeff Bennett too. What can you divulge to us about your studio work?
James: Yeah, I'm always working on tracks and have a lot of unfinished material on my computer. I just can't get them finished. I get too excited by a new idea and move on to the next track before finishing the last, which is why I'm going to pass on some of those tracks to people like Jeff Bennett & Kriece. Someday I'll get around to finishing something completely and releasing it though. I plan to release tracks under different guises to ease the pressure of having to deliver to peoples expectations of what an original track by me should sound like.
Progressive-Sounds: Your hometown of Southampton is a hive of creativity, with many of your friends involved with music in some way, shape or form. Do you feel being surrounded by such passionate individuals helps to keep you motivated, with them also helping to keep your feet on the ground, and can you tell us a bit about them and who we should be watching out for in the future?
James: I really love Southampton at the moment. It hasn't always had the scene it has now and I'm not saying it's clubbing capital of the world or anything because the night life can be generally quite dire BUT with that said there are occasional awesome parties that happen that really make you believe you could be on the Space Terrace, like the High Tide boat parties for example, which Lee Burridge claims was his 'best gig this year' or the odd 'ALiVE' party that I throw at Mono (a local bar) with friend and local DJ Tom Budden. There's also other odd little nights with local DJs like Natalia Data, Feature Cast & Moonface (Phil Thompson) all experimenting with new sounds. As you may know the town is more famous for it's UK Garage scene than for it's Tech-House & Breaks scene but seems to be changing. Then you have the Pioneers of what I like to call 'Pompey House' with Dave Robertson, PJ Davy & Danny Graham producing what seems like 5 tracks a week and getting more support from labels and DJs worldwide. As much as I love travelling I do get homesick if I'm away from home for longer than 3 weeks.
Progressive-Sounds: And finally, being Lord Of The Daleks, Do you feel the Daleks are being mistreated by the BBC with their omission from the new Dr Who series?
James: Actually you're mistaken they will appear in the new series. Well, one of them at least will appear in original Dalek form and then we'll see them evolve into their new shape which rumour has it is more like a spider than a pepper pot. Personally I think they should stay true to the original shape but just update them for the modern age but this spider thing does sound interesting. I actually went on BBC South Today Television with my Dalek and spoke about the return of the Daleks and met Sylvester McCoy who played the 7th Doctor Who!. Erm, time to get my coat I think..
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