James Fox is a producer and DJ currently based in Bristol, UK. His early 12″s on the likes of TAKE Records and Well Rounded Housing Project combined the jack and groove of deep house with the bass pressure of the UK underground and in doing so found their way into the boxes of respected DJs and selectors across several genres. Follow up releases for Futureboogie (including the massive ‘Work That Body’) and 2020 Midnight Visions alongside fellow Bristol residents Behling & Simpson established him as a producer committed to finding new ways of approaching house music. The recent ‘Holding On’ EP featuring the vocals of Cardiff based singer/songwriter Vanity Jay has been supported heavily by house DJs both old and new, and with follow up releases planned for boutique underground imprints including Delayed Audio and Sccucci Manucci 2014 looks set to be Fox’s year.
1: I spend far, far too much money on new clothes and shoes.
2: The first record I ever bought was ‘Pump Up The Jam’ by Technotronic.
3: My favourite drink is a Jamaican Mule – dark rum, ginger beer and fresh lime with ice. Try it, it’s amazing.
What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Well, I get inspiration from all sorts of places – but the one that I like best is going to a nice venue with a good soundsystem, and hearing DJs play records that I want to dance to. Sometimes as a producer you can get too caught up with trying to make records for other producers and overthink things, so it’s always a good idea to go back to basics, as it were.
How and when did you get into making music?
I started to be a bit more focused on writing music maybe around four or five years ago; before then I’d messed around with things like Fruity Loops without ever really making anything worthwhile. I still see myself as being a DJ first and a producer second, but these days the two are so closely linked – you need to be releasing records often if you want to get decent DJ gigs…
What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
Wow, that’s a hard question! I don’t know where to begin picking my favourite of all time, so maybe I’ll just pick a few favourites that I return to again and again…
Shed ‘Shedding The Past’
The Streets ‘Original Pirate Material’
The XX ‘XX’
Leftfield ‘Rhythm & Stealth’
What do you associate with Berlin?
Although it seems obvious, the main one that springs to mind is electronic music! I think Berlin (alongside London, of course) is really where the most forward thinking producers and DJs seem to congregate for some reason. bPitch Control, Dubplates&Mastering, Hardwax, Berghain / Panoramabar etc – these are names that are recognised as a seal of quality by electronic music fans all over the world, and that’s not even getting into individual producers or DJs.
On a more personal level, I visited the city for the first time last year, and I was struck by how calm and focused it feels compared to London. Just little things like people waiting at crossings until the green man appears, even if there is no traffic in sight! I also saw an awesome Abba cover band in a shopping mall at Potsdamer Platz.
What’s your favourite place in your town?
That depends – my favourite area is definitely the East End, more specifically places like Hackney, Dalston, Stoke Newington or Shoreditch. Living there it always felt like there was something to do, or somewhere to go; some parts of it are a little rough around the edges, but I think I prefer that to being bored living in the suburbs.
If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
If there was no music in the world, I would probably be a writer – or at least try to be! Once upon a time I wanted to be a journalist, but I soon had my enthusiasm crushed by a boring course at University.
What was the last record you bought?
If you mean vinyl record, the last one I bought was the new Seiji 12” ‘Elevator / Yes Man’. I think the last digital I bought was IKE ‘Lost4Trax’ EP on one of my favourite labels, Philpot.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
People like Shed, Ramadanman, Instra:mental, Scuba – basically producers that are able to make deep, bass-driven music that you can listen to as well as rock a club with.
What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Probably at a night called Slacker’s Convention in Brighton a few years ago; there was a festival in the town the same day that finished around 11pm, so the club was absolutely packed full of people that were, how to put this, already ‘refreshed’ and ready to dance as soon as the doors opened. I came on at 3am in the back room, and it was one of those sets where the energy levels are peaking and everything just flows. I finished on Goldie ‘Inner City Life’ and the whole room sang it back to me… amazing.
How important is technology to your creative process?
Perhaps not quite as important as it is to some; most of my tracks are made using a lot of samples, so I guess I could probably get by using an old Akai and some outboard! As it is, I run a battered old PC and use a bare minimum of plugins, mostly the Sonnox suite and a couple of others. I have a Nord Rack that I love – it makes the most amazing sounds that just fill up the mix. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t want to get a Mac, though.
Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
I am an only child; my family and girlfriend are really proud of me though.