Progressive-Sounds: So, the autumn is upon us and the year slowly draws to a close. The summer saw you release your debut mix compilation, the second in the 'Thinking Out Loud' series. Where you pleased with how it turned out, and the reaction you've received from it?
James Talk: I was very pleased with the end result actually. With a small compilation series you are always limited to resources and money, but I feel I put together a strong representation of my music, and something that I hope wont age too quickly. The reactions I received from the CD were good. I didn't hear anything bad. Perhaps the end of the CD was a bit deep for some, but I wanted to bring it to a close with a sense of finality, and not leave it on a high.
Progressive-Sounds: Earlier this year you were asked by King Unique to be a resident at their bi-monthly Curfew Time night at Turnmills. How has the residency been for you over the last few months, and how have the DJ commitments been in general for you this year? Any particular ones that stand out for any reason?
James Talk: The Curfew Time residency this year has been awesome and it goes monthly from November. I hope to do 90% of them next year, that room is my home. Matt & Matthew have been very supportive and they have had one of their strongest years to date too. DJing in general this year has been fantastic; I've been all over the place UK and abroad. Tokyo, Japan was probably the highlight of my life let alone DJing. What an amazing city. I was there for 4 days and didn't want to leave. Other notably great nights have been Ritmo Loco in Manchester, and The Cross, London for Type. My MOS debut was amazing too, opening up the Bar, and building up the night of the first ever Club Class at MOS was an honor.'I never really embraced this whole Electro House phenomenon. I tried to write a couple of tracks, but it isn't really me. I prefer to leave it to the masters, than try to imitate.'
Progressive-Sounds: You've come a long way musically since your debut single 'Eggs Are Cute', with your production style almost a million light years away from your initial work. Was this a conscious shift in direction? Would you say your work now is more reflective of what you are into musically?
James Talk: Yes I suppose it is. I like to write what I feel. At the time I started writing music I was into Gabriel & Dresden and James Holden amongst others. As my production skills improved as did my taste in music, and I now lean towards the Acid House side of things, but try to mix it up with elements of deep house and techno. I never really embraced this whole Electro House phenomenon. I tried to write a couple of tracks, but it isn't really me. I prefer to leave it to the masters, than try to imitate.
Progressive-Sounds: Like many other DJs and producers, you have your own label called Spoken Recordings which is now onto it's fourth release. What made you decide to set up the label, and what plans do you have for it over the coming months?
James Talk: Spoken was born simply for the means to release my own singles, under my own terms in my own time frame. Waiting for label release schedules is frustrating and I needed to get some tracks out there as soon as possible, before I started to work on more music. So we started Spoken Recordings at the beginning of 2006. The main focus for the label now is the next single which is James Talk 'Pass Me The Suntan Lotion' coupled with a remix from Nic Fanciulli. The original is also featured on his Renaissance CD due out soon. Nic had the exclusive on the track all summer for Space, and as I hear it was one of his biggest records. We have scheduled the release for early December. Then into the new year with a follow up single and promotion of the Album before Miami WMC with the release of the album with 3rd single in April.'I spent most of my summer DJing, and working on my first artist album. I'm now 3/4 of the way through it, and should have it finished up by Xmas.'
Progressive-Sounds: What can we look forward to production and remix wise from you over the next few months? Are there any plans for you to put together an album of original work and collaborations in light of your recent studio efforts with such names as Audiofly and Pete Tong, and do you feel working with these people has helped you develop yourself further?
James Talk: I spent most of my summer DJing, and working on my first artist album. I'm now 3/4 of the way through it, and should have it finished up by Xmas. I'm just laying a couple of vocals down on some deep house tracks. The album is all dance floor music, but will float between the deepest of tech house to peak time acid. I managed to fit in a couple of remixes too, one for Ocean Trax and another for Dirty Bird Records.
Working with other producers / DJ's always helps you to develop your talents. Working with Audiofly was fun, and we clicked very well in the studio. We nailed "Cool Wet Grass" in a day, and subsequently signed it to Get Physical. We should do more tracks together next year. Working with Pete Tong was completely different, it taught me to be confident in the studio, and productive with such a small amount of time available we had to knuckle down and work the bulk of the remix out in a day. Something I've never had to do before.'I suppose the best advice I can give anyone wanting to break into the scene through production is hone your skill. Don't be in such a rush to give out your early works.'
Progressive-Sounds: The South Coast is a bit of a melting pot musically, with the High Tide boat parties very much a regular event on the UK clubbing calendar. In addition this, the musical talent from the region, including your friends Dave Robertson and James Zabiela generally have all gone on to achieve great things within the dance scene since making their respective debuts. So is it something in the water, or do you think having like-minded friends has helped you all to reach the levels of success you have thus far?
James Talk: The South Coast is a breeding ground for some amazing DJ talent, there is some very good DJs here, Tom Budden and John Barber most notably. Music producers are a little thin right now. Rich Sutcliffe is doing great things and making waves within the "jackin" house scene, although i expect he would hate me for using that term. Then of course there is Dave and Jz. We all try to offer each other support, playing each others tracks and offering advice where needed. Seeing your friends do well definitely helps. It inspires you creatively and also motivates you to work harder.
Progressive-Sounds: Who or what would you cite as your biggest influences, or who has been the biggest support and advice for you as both a producer and DJ to date?
James Talk: I always say it, but Josh Wink continues to inspire me musically. He never puts a foot wrong with his productions, he continues to re-invent the 303, and his tracks never sound dated. As for support, Nic Fanciulli is without doubt the reason things have sky rocketed over the past 12 months, also Pete Tong, James Zabiela and King Unique have always been there to offer support and advice.
Progressive-Sounds: What words of advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the world of music as a producer, and do you feel it's important to be able to create your own work without the need for assistance from a third party?
James Talk: I suppose the best advice I can give anyone wanting to break into the scene through production is hone your skill. Don't be in such a rush to give out your early works. Poorly produced records can leave a bad taste in DJs mouths, and will always be in the back of their mind when you send them new tracks. Wait it out and attack the scene hard with really hot and well produced records. A good example of this is Claude Von Stroke, unknown until this year, entered the scene with some awesome tracks and remixes, and it now one of the most in demand producers and DJs out there.
As for the debate against using an engineer and writing your own music, we could be here for hours. Personally I've never used an engineer and never will. I believe it's important for a producer to learn his craft and understand how music is created, this happens over time. There is also a greater satisfaction when you can sit back and say, "I created that myself" Now there are 2 instances when I think using an engineer is Ok. First would be if an already established DJ wants to create music, but due to schedule and time, isn't able to spend years in the studio working out how to re-wire reason to logic, or learning various production techniques, but has lots of ideas, and from playing in clubs learnt; what in a track can rock a dance floor. The second would be a DJ who uses an engineer but they release the record as a collaboration under an alias. This then benefits both parties involved and has worked for many a group in the past generally one is the tech side, the other is more DJ based.
What does annoy me is bedroom DJ's who can pay a engineer a couple of hundred quid, sit down in the studio for a day or two, ask the engineer to write them a bass line and some drums that sound like Trentemøller. Release the record out under their own name, promote their new found production career on message boards, mislead promoters into thinking they are some hot new production talent, and give no credit to the initial person who did all the hard work.
Progressive-Sounds: Finally, seeing as you like to Talk - any final comments you would like to add?
James Talk: I love you