With powerful beats, amazing talent, a humble personality and a record label on top of it, Justin James continues to be one of the most driven techno artists in the industry. Ascendance Radio caught up with this talented individual, you don’t want to miss what he has planned next.
Justin James Interview
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): We’re here at the W hotel in Miami with Justin James. Justin, you’re a long way from home how have you been enjoying Miami?
Justin James: Great so far, it’s going to be a short but really great trip. It’s just Thursday night and Friday night, leaving Saturday afternoon so it’s going to be good and quick.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): You should stay for longer [laughter]
Justin James: Yeah, I wish I could.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): Have you been enjoying the beach as well?
Justin James: I haven’t yet, I’m hoping to get there soon.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): Every year I never make it.
Justin James: I at least have to get my feet on the sand a little bit, that’s the plan.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): Don’t forget your sunblock!
Justin James: Yeah, I have some!
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): This is me tan! Aside from being extremely talented, other words that have been used to describe you have been dedicated, energetic and ambitious, given how some times some artists step back and just settle with their work, do you feel that given your ambitious personality and spirit that this will never happen to you?
Justin James: I hope so, I think this is something that everyone has to work for. Especially in this industry, nothing is handed to you and you have to go out and make a name for yourself and be your own advocate, you know? Hopefully you link up with groups of people that’ll advocate for you and you get a good team so I think the hard work always has to be there, you know? Especially to get established and then once you’re established you have to work hard being a touring DJ as well, so, a lot of that is lifestyle wise more than musically but it’s a balance of trying to get your tour in with your production schedule, you know? Your production scheduling together, as well.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): You’re about to launch “Refused Audio“, can you tell us more about this venture and why you chose to create it?
Justin James: Yeah, “Refused” is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I created my own label to showcase some of my music on another channel but also a big thing was to also showcase other artists that are friends of mine that have grown up on this and also new talent throughout the world. I’ve been lucky to start to meet people from around the world, great musicians from around the world – especially via social networks and you start realizing there’s a lot of kids out there that you can give breaks to and get their music out to the masses, too. That is what “Refused” is about.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): That’s awesome. You performed yesterday at the Red Bull Guest House event, was it your first time in Miami and what do you do to get ready?
Justin James: It wasn’t my first time in Miami but it was my first time playing a Redbull event with Minus and this was a unique event because of the half hour sets. We had 10 DJ’s playing a half hour each so 5 hours of music, a half hour each and it was new for me because I hadn’t done anything like that before but it gave me the chance to showcase only my original work so that 30 minutes was completely my tracks. It wasn’t a live set per say but most of the tracks were brand new unreleased tracks there were a couple of bootleg and I think one previously released track but everything else was brand new and that was pretty cool to be able to do that and showcase Richie Hartman, a label manager of mine… just show them the new stuff.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): That’s pretty cool, I was assuming you had an amazing reaction from the fans.
Justin James: Yeah, actually I was very surprised. Not just from the fans but my colleagues as well, trying to give me props on my sound and that’s important to me as well to kind of represent the brand well, to get the support from the Minus family, including the bosses is huge for me.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): Your sound is classified under the minimal techno and tech-house genre. Do you ever see yourself exploring other genres?
Justin James: I guess I’m not a big fan of the idea of genres and classifying music. I think, to me, there’s two schools, there’s a house side and there’s a techno side and to me the house side is more organic feeling whereas the techno side is more kind of colder. Not cold in a bad way but more robotic and industrial feeling. hope that what I do, one of my big things is being influenced by the sounds of Detroit especially is that fusion of the colder elements of music, the robot music if you will, with kind of a funkier side of house music, you know? That’s what the originators like Detroit techno, the god fathers, they had this feeling that techno was a mixture of both soul and robots, so I kind of try and marry those two as well.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): You’ve played alongside Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, Joris Voorn, and so many more artists. Is there anyone you haven’t played alongside with that you would like to in the future?
Justin James: I guess playing alongside somebody is important, especially playing alongside your colleagues is great. I guess some of the people that I’d like to play along with are the people who got me into this. Especially the people who, especially friends of mine, maybe not even large acts, playing along with some of my good buddies I started DJing with maybe on a bigger stage and I think hopefully maybe “Refused” will have the showcase to some of my friends as well, you know? One guy that I would love to play with and I saw him last night, it’d be John Acquaviva. John and I, he’s the guy that got me back into DJing and I think to play alongside him would be very cool.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): You’re constantly traveling to different gigs, when you’re not completely swamped with work or performing what do you like to do for fun?
Justin James: What do I like to do for fun? I like to play lots of spots, I’m a squash player, actually I mentioned Acquaviva a minute ago and I met John Acquaviva in a splash tournament and that’s how I got into DJing. I found out a couple weeks later after meeting him that I realized I had this bug and I messaged him and saying what gear I should get to start DJing and he helped me out. Slowly but surely from there that led to music production, so, for me sports is a big thing and teaching, I love teaching. I’m an Ableton Certified Trainer so I spend a lot of time teaching clients how to make music using Ableton and I guess that’s still music related but obviously just spending time with my friends and family is very important to me too.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): Given your large amount of gigs how would you say you find that balance between studio time and performing?
Justin James: I always have to do both and there’s always opportunity to do both. I think for me writing music came before touring. I would say making music is like my video games that other people have, you know? I think that’s my relaxation time, that’s my turn my brain on and explore that side of my brain. I do love television but to sit down and write music to me is pretty therapeutic and pretty great to kind of just explore myself and explore technology and explore sounds.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): What’s next for Justin James?
Justin James: What’s next for me? Well, there’s lots of things in the works, there’s lots of music coming up real soon and my main focus right now is doing music with Minus and I assembled a great team around me and take that next step between Refused and Minus and just playing out and writing more tunes, I think that’s what’s next and in store for me.
Dayanna Ramirez (Ascendance Radio): Cool, thank you so much.
Justin James: Thank you.