James Crooks releases his debut EP 'Blame My Soul' in January.
Raised on rock but committed to the art of electronic production, Melbourne producer/ singer-songwriter James Crooks releases his debut EP 'Blame My Soul' this month (18 January).
The EP features vocals from Tyne-James Organ, Paige IV, BOI (from L D R U’s 2017 track ‘Me’), Sam Phay, Dives and Coast & Ocean taking the listener on a journey with a heartbreaking muse, having been inspired by the ending of a relationship.
Here, James takes some time to answer our questions about what we can expect from the upcoming release as well as working with a crew of incredible collaborators on the record before he heads back into the studio to work on new material.
What kept you busy in 2018? A whole lot of writing; experimenting with sounds and ideas, trying different styles and variations in my production and songwriting.
Tell us about your forthcoming debut EP and what it's taken to get to this point? My debut EP, 'Blame My Soul', is about a past relationship and is an expression of my thoughts, feelings and memories. Loads of late nights have been put into 'Blame My Soul' and I’m stoked with the outcome.
You released your debut single 'Naturally' in 2015; how have you evolved as a songwriter and producer since then? Since dropping ‘Naturally’, I’ve really focused on developing my skills as a producer/ songwriter and experimented with different sounds and vocal melodies. Writing sessions with other songwriters has also shaped my view of making music.
Did you start writing the EP with a specific creative vision for the record? I had an electronic, indie-pop vision for this record – fun beats and truthful lyrics. Collaborating with feature artists felt important to the release too.
What was it like working with Dives on the single 'LaLaLa'? Dives is amazing to work with. Within 30 minutes it felt like I’d know him my whole life. As we were bouncing around ideas in the session, we ended up going tropical and cranked out marimbas with fun, hooky guitar riffs. Two hours in, we had the core of a great song completed.
You've said 'LaLaLa' is about doing something you know you shouldn't – based on personal experience? Everyone’s done things they know they shouldn’t. I guess we all have a wild side – I know I do!
What have you learnt about the craft of songwriting after co-writing with artists such as Rufus Du Sol and Thelma Plum? Less is more. Sometimes in the studio you can come up with loads of great ideas and want to use them all. Learning how to not over-produce has been an eye opener.
Seemingly raised on a healthy diet of 'dad rock', how did you come to produce EDM and hip hop? I guess it all started from being a DJ for Mind Over Matter (Sydney based hip hop act), with one of the rappers suggesting I should write my own music. The next day I bought Logic for $300 and went for it. EDM/ indie pop came later for me.
What draws you to electronic music as an art form and medium for expression? Electronic music is the best way I can express myself creatively. It’s an escape from reality and is very therapeutic for me.
What's coming next for you in 2019? 2019 will be an exciting year. I’m going to lock myself away for a big part of it and get my debut album finished. Hopefully be on the road playing shows and doing some overseas writing too.