Friday, 29 January 2010
INTERVIEW: James Fox [TAKE]
Having been led into TAKE Records blossoming roster thanks to the involvement of Mr. Spatial, who contributed 2 remixes to the 1st vinyl release, a 12" comprised of remixes of False Prohpets' 'Wake Up,' our ears really pricked up when we received promo files of the 2nd 12", 'Put It Back' which also includes a particularly cultured Ramadanman remix on the flip, by the somewhat unassumingly monikered, James Fox.
Crossing straight house ruminations with interesting flourishes of mechanical melody, his productions sit right with us so we thought we'd reel him in for a chat and to provide our 33rd exclusive Sonic Router mix...
Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?
James Fox: Well, I’ve been DJing for about ten years now, and making music for probably half that. I’m from Manchester originally, and I moved down to London a couple of years ago, for a change of scenery…
Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?
I am a professional admin drone, currently employed at a college in central London for posh rich kids from all over the world.
How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do produce?
Pretty standard really; always been fascinated with music in all its forms, so once I got a taste for DJing it was a logical progression to get into creating my own tracks.
What’s your production set up like?
I’m on a battered old PC running Ableton Live, I’ve got a Nord Rack that I use for most of my synth sounds and plugin wise I keep it pretty stripped down. I’m partial to the Korg Legacy synth package and I am a massive fan of the Sonnox EQ / Compressor / Reverb. I used to have a bazillion and one plugins, but I realised I was spending all my time trying to get my head round them (and failing), so I got rid.
How would you describe your sound to someone zoning in for the first time?
Hard to say really, the common thread between all the records I play and make is probably sub bass, I’m a sucker for it. Not about all the distorted midrange stuff in the slightest, it just sounds like music for sweaty teenage boys to mosh to. Beyond that, I guess I like records that are groove-based and not too obvious - from deep dubstep through house, broken beat, 2step, whatever really.
What first brought you to the dubstep/house-ish sound? what drew you to that?
Probably the complete disregard for the sort of perceived genre boundaries and tribalism that can really suck the fun out of DJing and production for me. It’s really exciting, because nobody knows quite what to call it, or where it’s going - they’re too busy making records or putting nights on or writing a blog or raving to really give much of a fuck about such insignificant details.
What inspires you musically?
That’s a hard one. I suppose people would often say that they are inspired by other producers, but I have the opposite problem – i.e. making a track and then thinking ‘well, my mixdown will never be as good as this Modeselektor record, or the vocal work won’t be as good as this Burial record, or the drums won’t be as good as this Scuba record… so what’s the point?’ – which is a very dangerous area to get into.
I guess I’m inspired by two things mainly: the producers that I’ve known for a few years who are doing things their own way and not compromising, and also going to clubs with my friends and hearing DJs that I respect rock it over a crisp soundsystem. When you get involved with DJing and production it can take away some of the thrill that you got at the start, so I think it’s important to go out dancing as much as you can, rather than sitting in the studio staring at a computer. I still can’t help but stop and stroke my chin if the DJ fluffs a mix even slightly, though…
Your debut 12” is coming on the TAKE imprint next Monday. How did you hook up with them? What can people expect from the release?
I’ve known the guys who run the label for a good few years. The whole project has actually been in the pipeline for a while now, and I think it shows – they’ve really taken a lot of care over the remixes they’ve had done, the artwork and the mastering to ensure that the final product is something you'd want to own. As for my release - 'Put It Back' is a percussive bass driven house groove for the club, and the Ramadanman Refix… well, I know I’m biased but it’s probably one of the best things I’ve heard him do. It sounds like 2step from the year 2020, and the breakdown is like a Boards of Canada record or something! There’s also a digital only track on the release called Rebuildings, which is well worth checking if you like Alex Smoke – think deep glitching electronic house, a proper B-side.
What other releases have you got forthcoming?
I’m currently working on a few things for TAKE, I need to find an extra day in the week so I can get them all finished though.
You’re a contributor to Bass Music Blog too; tell us a bit about how it all came together and where you wanna take it?
I know Sam Baobinga and Ed ID from around the way in Manchester; they decided to start a blog about 18 months ago, and being the sort of person who tends to ramble on about music to whoever is in earshot, they asked me to contribute. The idea – much like this fine blog – is to be editorially led, i.e. not just pumping out free music. I think it’s working out pretty well thus far; one angle that has been good for us is offering readers insight into the industry, so we've done interviews with mastering engineers, promoters, that sort of thing. We’ve also been focusing on bass music culture in cities around the world that might not get much attention elsewhere, and I think that’s an area that we’ll continue exploring. In future, we aim to get to the level where people like Fact Magazine are; their guest mixes and interviews are always super on point, so yeah – big up Fact.
What else does 2010 have in store for James Fox?
I've got to finish some more damn records that I don’t decide are rubbish and immediately scrap, play some more gigs in London, go out raving more, basically continual upping of game on all fronts.
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us, what kind of vibe have you gone for and what tracks did you just have to put in?
I really like creating DJ mixes that stand up to repeated listening, so to me this means things like: re-editing, mixing in key, subtle fx, layering things up, vocal / acapellas blends – the best tool for this is definitely Ableton Live, so that’s what I used. Vibe-wise, I wanted to try and represent the different styles that I like to play in the club, so you’ve got deep bass-driven house music, some 2step / bruk, a bit of edgy synth stuff and a few big ones at the end. It also ended up being a bit of a recap of my most loved tracks of 2009 ('WAD,' 'Pimp Jackson,' 'Since Last Night,' 'The Lighter/MAW' blend I did, etc).
Have you got any words of wisdom for our readers?
Earplugs. Use them!
DOWNLOAD: James Fox - Sonic Router Mix
1. Soul Clap - Rock The Boat [dub]
2. Dubbel Dutch - Trollsta (Round Table Knights Remix) [Palms Out Sounds]
3. Julio Bashmore - Tread Soft [dub]
4. Worthy - Crack El' (Justin Martin Remix) [dirty bird]
5. Lil Silva - Different [dub]
6. James Fox - Put it Back [TAKE]
7. Horacio - Taverna Del Funk [Raum]
8. Drop The Lime - Set Me Free (Zombie Disco Squad Remix) [Trouble & Bass]
9. Dan Black - symphonies (Hot City Remix) [Polydor]
10. Loco Dice - Pimp Jackson is Talking Now [Desolat]
11. Pearson Sound - Wad [Hessle Audio]
12. Wookie - Down On Me [Manchu]
13. Deadboy - U Cheated [Well Rounded]
14. Martin Kemp - Aztec [Blunted Robots]
15. Skinnz - Euphorbia [dub]
16. Joy Orbison - BRKLN CLLN [Doldrums]
17. Lighter - Skanker (James Fox Work Vocal Edit) [dub]
18. Uncle Bakongo - Bambara [Roska Kicks & Snares]
19. TRG - Since Last Night [Tempa dub]
20. Jaheim - Put That Woman First (Calibre Remix) [dub]