There are a lot of good producers out in this world. One thing that is lacking though, are inspiring producers. Whether through their story, their music or both, musicians can heat the oven for the next generation of super stars while pushing the current ones to go further. As a twenty-six year old, James Egbert has been doing that and will continue to do so. He’s had success in the past and it’s safe to say he has a long career ahead of him, but for now, we are going to focus on what’s going on in the present.
Today marked the release of James’ debut album, The Void, a thirteen song project backed by Fuzion Muzik. With collaborations from Dirtyloud and ETC! ETC!, as well as vocalists Nina Sung and Taylr Renee, James went full force to deliver a solid work that goes deeper than you could ever imagine. With a focus on musicality, this is one of the more emotive albums I have heard. What makes it even better is that James packs the feelings into different styles, including his signature bangers. But, this is much more than that. It’s a journey, unique to James and unique to every single listener that lays their ears to it. Everyone has something to take away from The Void.
Aside from listening to the album, you can check out the interview I had with James. He talks about the project, what it took to create it, why he did so, as well as his recent charity work, his views on Soundcloud’s bootleg purge and more. Let us know your favorite song from the album in the comments when you are done!
Your EDM Interview:
1. How/When did you get into making music? What was it about electronic music that inspired you?
JE: I’ve been listening to electronic music fairly regularly since about 1999, and I think a lot of that is attributed to movies like Blade and The Matrix and their soundtracks, but going back a bit further, I remember being 5 years old and hearing the synth arpeggiator in The Moody Blues – “Your Wildest Dream” and wondering what this surreal sound was and how they made it. Stuff like that or even like Elton John – “Funeral For A Friend” have been some of my biggest influences and I think you can still hear that sort of inspiration in my music today. My favorite thing about electronic music is that it can kind of open another dimension and take you on a journey there in a different way than other genres often do.
2. Where was your first DJ performance?
JE: My first DJ performance was actually at The Church in Denver in 2011. I had been booked for Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks and the promoters asked me if I’d like to play a pre-party. At the time, I hadn’t performed in front of an audience in roughly 3 years, and I was definitely feeling the need to get some face time in front of a crowd again before the performance at Red Rocks.
3. What did winning the Discovery Project do for your career?
JE: It’s funny because 2 years later, I’m still hearing people say “Hey man, I found out about you in the Discovery Project video”. It’s been a good form of recognition in that Insomniac is one of the largest promoters in the world, and having their stamp of approval and blessing has been great.
4. Did the music scene’s from Dallas & Huntington Beach have an impact on you? Why’d you choose to settle in Denver?
JE: They both definitely did have their impacts. While I was in high school, the metal scene in Dallas felt huge, and that was kind of my home genre for the time. Being a drummer and actively participating in the scene was a big deal for me because I learned a lot about the importance of showmanship and setting the energy tone at shows. Coming out swinging so to speak on the first track really sets the energy for yourself and the audience for the rest of the show, and I don’t think I would have learned so much about the personal connection a performance can have had I not played countless shows in that scene, which was highly competitive at the time. Huntington Beach was great because that’s where I began going out to raves and had some understanding of what had an impact on the dance floor and what didn’t. I also became good internet friends with a couple of producers by the names of Lorn and Poxxe during that time and I think both of them had a big influence on my desire to dive into further intricacy with my productions. Lorn’s sound design is pretty incredible and trying to imitate some of the grit he was achieving taught me a lot about sound design and I don’t know if Poxxe is producing any more, but he was using an old tracker program for production and so his attention to detail was incredible and also inspiring.
5. The Void is here. Can you tell us about the idea behind the album? Why did you go more for a concept album as opposed to just a collection of singles?
JE: There were a couple of ideas that really began to drive the album forward, but my initial goal was based on the feeling that the general pulse of the music scene had become more about the branding and the artist and less about the music, most specifically the musicality. One of the second feelings that drove the album was that I was feeling that my audience was only seeing one side of my musicality and there’s some things that are more difficult to do as an artist when you’re only releasing singles. Some of my favorite songs from the album are actually the interludes. Working on The Void as a collective piece of work that tells a collective story was a great experience because every little thing like even an interlude is an important piece of the story and the way that the overall music flows can improve the impact that an individual song has when it’s experienced within the context of the total picture.
6. What’s your favorite single off the album that is out in the public right now?
JE: That’s such a tough question to answer because they’re all so different. I really do love “You And Me” though because of my past as a drummer and the influence that I decided to involve in the songwriting process. All of the songs are very different though, and they all have their own unique place in my heart that no other could take.
7. How long did it take to get this album completed?
JE: It was about 18 months from start to finish.
8. Did you plan to have a lot of variety on the album or did things just naturally happen that way?
JE: I did want to have a good bit of variety on the album. I think one of my major goals with the album was to showcase not only my versatility as a producer and a musician, but also showcase my musical influence. I listen to and am inspired by a variety of different music, and I felt that it was important to help tell the story of someone’s unique journey to self discovery.
9. I know you’ve used some analog equipment for the creation of The Void. Can you tell us what tools you’ve been using?
JE: I’ve been using a Moog Little Phatty for a few years now, and it’s been a very important piece for me, and still sits directly in front of me at my desk as it’s one of my first go-to pieces of gear. I also picked up a Moog Sub Phatty and a Teenage Engineering OP-1 during the early phases of the album production and they both were a big piece to getting some unique sounds. I’ve also been getting much more into vintage gear and used an Ensoniq MR-76 and Roland D-50 heavily to create some more of the soft and atmospheric pieces of the album as they have a certain warmth to them that was really inspiring to me. I’ve recently picked up a Nord Lead 2 as well and used that for some of the chords towards the end of the album creating. I actually used that a lot on “Pep Talk” as it’s got a little more of a sharp and aggressive digital sound to it.
10. What’s your favorite plugin?
JE: There are two plugins that have drastically changed my sound within The Void writing and recording process and those are Valhalla Vintage Verb and Fabfilter Pro-Q. The album would have a very different sound and feel without either of these plugins.
11. Additive, Subtractive, FM or Wavetable synthesis?
JE: I’m real big on subtractive synthesis. Lots of producers I work with are shocked to find out that it’s been at the forefront of my sound design from the beginning, but I definitely branched out a bit with The Void. I decided to make the jump from Logic 9 to Logic X during this album creation process and with the lack of 32 bit plugins in Logic X, I had to make the shift from Vanguard and decided to jump into Massive a bit, so Massive is now a more prominent synth in my productions than it has been in the past. I largely make my choice of synthesizer based on its’ filtering, and I strongly feel that Massive is a bit lacking in warmth compared to some other synths, but discovering its strengths has proven to make it a powerful tool in my collection.
12. Can you tell us one thing about yourself that may surprise some people?
JE: I don’t often dwell on it but it’s a part of my story that I’d like to begin sharing more often for the sake of hopefully empowering other people going through their own sets of issues. I have a birth defect and have had some number of surgeries greater than 15 (that I can’t even count anymore). I’m often shocked that most people don’t notice it because it has played a big part in my mental make-up, but at the age of 26 now, I can honestly say that I’m a better person for having been through all that I have. I think it really plays into my desired message of The Void, in that people need to embrace their own unique journeys and embrace everything that makes them different and special.
13. You just got back from volunteer work in Costa Rica, what were you doing out there? Any other charity work you plan on getting into?
JE: Yes, it was an incredibly inspiring experience for me. I went with my wife and a small group of volunteer workers to help for a week with a village among the indigenous Bri Bri people of South Costa Rica. The goal of the trip was to help this village build their infrastructure to allow for tourism in their village, therefore allowing them to be more self-sustaining and allow their unique culture to thrive again. It was a very humbling trip, to see how much I have in comparison, and yet see how happy they were simply to have their basic needs met and have community with one another. It’s also amazing to think about how when my resources are exerted in an unselfish way, my time, energy, and money can impact someone’s life and even generations to come. My wife and I discovered the need of a fellow Bri Bri village to have a motor for their canoe so that they can also be able to travel down the river to pick up tourists to visit their village and therefore help their village grow, so we’re really excited to be buying that for their village soon. I’m finding one of the greatest purposes of life is to have an impact on another life, and this recent trip was a huge reiteration of how simple that can be.
14. As someone who has created a lot of quality remixes/bootlegs, what do you think about the recent actions Soundcloud has taken against them?
JE: I haven’t been directly impacted by Soundcloud in that regard, but I do think it’s kind of silly that they’re being so adamant to remove remixes and bootlegs. For an artist, having somebody else put their spin on your music can be one of the greatest promotional tools at your possession, so I feel like a lot of artists are leaning more towards the frustrated side about it.
15. After The Void, what does the rest of the year look like for James Egbert?
JE: I’m actually currently working on a few new big remixes that I’m incredibly excited about. I feel like The Void has been incredibly fulfilling to showcase my full potential as an artist, and I’ll likely be returning to making more festival/nightclub centered music through the rest of the year. I love performing and meeting supporters at shows as well, and I hope that The Void is a good platform of creating some fresh demand for that again. Music creation has always been first for me though, so I’ll continue to keep the studio as my priority and see what shows come along the way.
PS, what episode of Trailer Park Boys are you on and who’s your favorite character?
JE: I think I’m on episode 5 or 6 of Trailer Park Boys, and Bubbles always cracks me up. The whole show is really ridiculous though and I think it caters to my sense of humor really well.