“Music means everything to me, music means expression and freedom – it’s like oxygen.” Artist Christian James explains there’s nothing compared to his love for music.
Residing in Austin, TX he offers a unique mellow sound that will leave you reassured. James represents the collective ‘All Good Boys Go To Heaven’ and is soon to release his solo project ‘fountainbleu.’
Earlier this week, we discussed about the musician’s versatility and unique sound, the upbringing of his music career and what the future holds for James. Check out the interview below, along with his music.
Swidlife: For starters, introduce yourself and what you do.
Christian James: My name is Christian James, also known as ‘Chris J’ to some people. I make music, Im an artist, I like to say I produce a little bit too. Yeah, I just make music honestly. Just do what I like to do.
Swidlife: At what age did you tell yourself, “I’m gonna start making music” and did people take you serious about it?
Christian James: As soon as I moved to Aransas, I was making music with this dude named Hunter; So I was like 16, going into 17. That’s when I started to make music, but people didn’t take me seriously until I was like 18/19ish.
Swidlife: You’re currently living in Austin, TX and have been staying in surrounding cities around the state. Can you talk about the impact or influence your career’s had from re-locating in various areas?
Christian James: It’s impacted me in a big way, because moving out of Corpus (Christi) and moving into Austin has kind of allowed me to be a little isolated from a lot of stuff. Whether it be distractions or just anything like that. I’m kinda away from my friends now, which is a bummer. But it’s helped in a good way though, because I’ve been able to sit down and focus on my music. Yeah, kind of be just less distracted and be more isolated from a lot of stuff. So I would say it’s definitely been a positive thing being out of Corpus, and it’s benefited me in that way. Just isolation.
Swidlife: I know you originally moved from Miami, FL to Aransas Pass, TX. Did the transition moving to another state affect you in anyway?
Christian James: Yeah definitely, and the crazy thing is I actually moved from Miami to New York first. Not New York City, but a small town outside of NYC. I can’t even remember the name of it, but I lived there and went to high school in New York for a year. Then I moved to Aransas Pass, so just having to start over every time you move. Whether it be just making new friends or finding a job or all that, it’s definitely affected me. Just because I haven’t been able to stick in one school, and have the same type of friends your whole life. Starting over and stuff has been weird definitely.
Swidlife: Growing up, was there a particular artist or band you took inspiration from?
Christian James: Man, I really loved Timbaland and Pharrell, that whole movement of music. Pusha T too, I would say.
Swidlife: I discovered your music when you were with the collective ‘Newsouth’. Being surrounded by talented individuals that share the same dream as you, what were some things you took from the group that helped make you a better artist?
Christian James: Everything. Just Interacting with those guys, those are my friends too. I know I can speak on my behalf, us surrounding ourselves and being in the room with everybody at once. We were drawn from so much inspiration from each other. Not to change the answer, but I feel like us surrounding ourselves with each other has made us grow in a different way. I would record differently or if I heard something that Don did, or maybe that Chris had made. Or something that Davin had made, I wouldn’t have done a melody this certain way because Don or Chris or Mason heard it ‘that’ certain way. Or I wouldn’t have thought of this bar, because they thought of that. So I think that shit has made me grow immensely, as far as NewSouth. I feel the group did that for everybody. Without meeting those guys or being apart of that, I probably be the way I am, or write the way I do or sound the way I wouldn’t for sure.
Swidlife: In the last year, you and your friends formed a new collective ‘All Good Boys Go To Heaven’ & put an end to the original ‘NewSouth’ name. What makes the new group different from the old? (in terms of sound & creative direction)
Christian James: All Good Boys is kind of a work in progress still, but I feel like with NewSouth we were trying to figure out shit still. We were still fucking off here and there, we weren’t taking shit as serious. Yeah we were doing music and we were all together, but there was a lot of times too where we would bullshit. To be honest we wouldn’t make anything, we were hanging as friends. So NewSouth was more of this cool idea “I’m gonna start a group, get together and make stuff.” NewSouth ended because of certain things, everybody wanted to do it a certain way. We just needed to rebrand, I just couldn’t see NewSouth being this big name. The name eventually got kind of corny to me for a second. When NewSouth was what it was, I feel like everybody was still trying to figure out who they were individually, sonically, artistically or creatively. And with All Good Boys transitioning, I think we all know exactly what we want to do creatively. So this is a step forward into growth as a group, and growth individually. As to NewSouth being the baby steps into that.
Swidlife: Y’all (All Good Boys Go To Heaven) released your debut EP last fall ‘Beyond Mount Idle’. Explain the process of making a project or simply a song together, while living in different cities?
Christian James: Sometimes it was a hassle, because it’s hard to be like “yo I have this song here, I’m gonna send it to you. Can you send me back the verse, and can you send me back stems. Then I’m gonna send this back to whoever would mix it.” Whether it’d be Kinderr or something. But sometimes it really did work out. Like the vibe in the room, I felt was always important when everybody was in the room. Rather then trying to make something and send it to somebody. I feel it’s more personal that way, or moments happen when everybody’s in the room. Rather then it be all separate. So for most of that project, we all tried to get in the room somehow. I wanna say most of the songs were made when we were all in the room, when we could. Because that project took a minute, so it took a couple months of mixing and stuff. But most of the time we were in the same room, but if we weren’t I think when I was in town or send it over to Don. But other then that, it went really smoothly and we would all link up.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/611443599″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
Swidlife: You specifically play the guitar and sing/rap. What is it about you, that makes your sound unique or different from the next artist.
Christian James: Not to be corny, I guess because ‘it’s me’ or whatever. Because that’s a cliche answer, but more so now especially with the new music that’s coming out from what I’ve been working on; I think I’ve been a lot more honest and a lot more vulnerable, but confident too at the same time. I would say vulnerability in a sense, with the new music. Being more vulnerable artistically, and I would say that’s what separates me. You’re gonna hear it now, once I drop all this. The way I’m singing is way different than how I used to, I’m just discovering my voice as I go.
Swidlife: As artist/creatives, we constantly continue to grow and change. Looking back at your discography, are you satisfied with where you are now? Compared to 3 years ago?
Christian James: Yeah, definitely! Looking back at all my shit on soundcloud, I’m about to take it off. I keep saying that, but I never do. Of course I look back at it, and I’m like “that shit was trash.” I even think ‘Runaway’ (James’s new single) is trash to me now, because I already have better stuff that I’m making. So I think that’s just normal with growth, as an artist you’re supposed to hate your old stuff. Or you’re not really growing I guess. But I’m definitely proud, because if I didn’t make that I wouldn’t make the stuff I’m making now. Everything is kind of trial and error.
Swidlife: If you had the opportunity to work with any artist, dead or alive. Who would it be and why?
Christian James: That’s such a hard question. I was gonna say like Kanye, or something crazy. I’m just gonna say right now, I’m gonna say Isaiah Rashad. I love that guy so much and Cilvia Demo meant A LOT to me. When it first came out, I remember forming a lot of friendships at that time. I don’t know, it has this nostalgic feeling to it that I can’t really word. But I’m gonna say Isaiah, I love that dude. He’s an amazing rapper.
Swidlife: Some may see music as just music and nothing more. What does music mean to Christian James?
Christian James: Music means everything man. Music means expression and freedom. Yeah, it’s hard to explain but it’s definitely everything. I’m listening to music when I’m trying to make something, or trying to write something 24/7. So it’s everything to me, it’s like oxygen. It keeps me going. Expression in general, like music and movies too. I just expression, feeling that release. That’s what it means to me.
Swidlife: You’re currently working on your solo project ‘fountainbleu’. What has been going into the creative process of making it and the challenges you’ve faced so far.
Christian James: I wouldn’t say writers block, but stuff like that sometimes would appear. Or I would get blocked mentally trying to think of something. I was trying to produce most of it, so producing is still something I’m getting into. I have a lot of help with it, whether it’s Jerm or Rob trying to help me produce shit. So that’s definitely been a difficult thing to overcome, because I’m not used to it as much. So I would say producing has been a challenge big time, but a fun challenge.
Swidlife: I’m sure there have been times of doubt or where you begin to question yourself with this career. Is there anybody along the lines of a support group, who you go to in those times?
Christian James: Yeah my mom, my mom is like my best friend. That woman will support me if I wanted to work at McDonalds or whatever. She’s always gonna support me. I’m sure a lot people feel that way, whether they’re close to their mom or dad. I’d definitely say my mom, obviously too I’d say the homies. Don, me and Don get deep sometimes. Chris, we’ll talk about shit, Rob, Jerm. But definitely my mom is the number one person, if I’m ever feeling a certain way, iffy about something. I’d say my mom.
Swidlife: Hypothetically speaking, if ‘Christian James’ were to come to an end tomorrow. What would you want people to remember from your career?
Christian James: Shit… That’s hard because I’m nowhere where I wanna be yet. That’d be kinda sad if I died tomorrow. Somebody that gave the courage to somebody else to be like “it’s cool to say how you feel, like what you like, do what you wanna do.” You know all that cliche shit, just somebody who was looked at as really doing this shit because they enjoy it, they love it. You know, the thought of being famous is tight and all that. But being known for making something you really strive to make better. Like I really wanna make the best shit possible.
Swidlife: Aside from your next solo project. What will be next for Christian James and All Good Boys Go To Heaven?
Christian James: We’re all kinda just working on our own stuff, as far as projects. fter my project, just focus on a lot more visuals. It’s kind of hard right now, because two of us live over here in Austin, Jerm is about to come back over here and we’re all a little scattered. We plan on doing another project for sure, so hopefully we can all link back up. Sometimes we plan it, sometimes we all hangout and somehow we made four songs. It’s hard to tell.
Swidlife: Lastly, If someone could take one thing from this interview, what would it be?
Christian James: It’s ok to feel like you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, or where you’re at exactly. It’s completely ok to not know any shit, just be extremely confident with what you wanna do. Do whatever the fuck you feel like and let anybody’s opinion get to you. They matter but they don’t. It’s whatever you see in your head, is what’s right. Go with your gut always, even it’ll take you one way it’ll take you the other way somehow.