6 Fragen an José James
The first time you decided to work as a musician didn´t turn out well for you. Then you had another try and you and were finally successfull. What would you have done for living, if that hadn´t worked out?
I don´t know. I try not to think about that. Probably something with literature, writing or teaching or some kind of combination. But definitely something with art, there is no way I could have a normal job. I don´t have a normal brain, you know.
Your music is clearly influenced by various genres, but mostly by African-American music, such as Jazz, Soul, Rhythm and Blues and the youngest: Hip Hop. This music was always highly political and connected to a social movement. Now bearing in mind your fist album was called "Dreamer” in reference to Martin Luther King: Would you consider your music to be political?
Well, I think you cannot say art is not political. Any art is political by definition. It is definitely not over-political I think. I am more interested in relations between people. For me, the only solution on a micro-level is humanizing the other. I think most of the crimes committed around the world is the result of dehumanization. And for me, as a individual, experiencing music has been the best way to discover other cultures and feel close to cultures that otherwise I would not.[…] I think, music´s greatest role is connecting people from all around the world, which is a political act, but not necessarily over-political.
You were born in the 80s and experienced the golden er aof HipHop in the 90s. But besides listening to the contemporary hiphop music of that time, you were really into Jazz music. How did that happen?
Well, there was so much sampling back then. And I was really curious about where it came from, like how did they make the music. So I would check out the liner notes and see like one sampled one another and so on and so on and so on… and I did not really understand it, because I never heard any of that stuff. So that´s how I learned about all Soul- and Jazz records. So once I realized there is this whole treasure to black music I thought like wow this is great.
What is it, which makes Jazz music so powerful for you?
I think it´s because the rule has always been `you have to be a complete individual to survive in the Jazz-world´. Since the beginning. If you sound like everybody else, you´re wack. Nobody wants you to be the next whatever. I think that´s great for individuality. It really makes you think about who you are, what your voice is and what you want to say.
It seems that on every new album, you try something totally new. Your youngest album will be released in August and is called "while you were sleeping”. It shows a wide range of musical influences from Jazz and Soul music to Grunge, Dubstep and even Psychedelic Rock. If you would be asked to describe the album with one word only, what would it be?
I would say it´s eclectic.
This year you´ll be touring around a lot, and see a lot of new places. If you think about cities, that had a musical history in the past, like New Orleans for Jazz music, San Fransisco for Psychedelic Rock, Detroit for Techno and Chicago for House...the Bronx for early HipHop etc. What do you think is a city, which develops a new musical genre right now? What is the new melting-pot for popular music?
I think about two cities. London is still the leader in electronic production, for sure. And then, what kind of is like a reference of that world, would be the L.A. scene. I feel like those guys have one food in the West-Coast hip hop camp and one food in the London scene. Those are the two kind of freshest music scenes.
"While You Were Sleeping"
Blue Note Records/ Universal