Having set alight the scene with release like 'Evolve' and 'Anodyne' we went to have a word with one of trance music's most promising new comers oh things past, present and future...
The UK based Trance & Progressive DJ / Producer started out playing and writing classically, turning to dance music after a visit to the 'Homelands' festival just outside of Winchester. He started his DJ career playing on the London scene soon after and later set about self studying Electronic Music Production.
Concentrating his efforts in late 2010 he dedicated more time to the studio focusing on Sound Design, Sound Engineering and Mastering in order to secure his first release. The resulting track was "Anodyne" and a record deal with Monster Tunes after a copy was passed to Ben Nicky. The track gained support from Armin Van Buuren, Gareth Emery, Paul Oakenfold, John 'O Callaghan, Mark Eteson and Ben Nicky to name a few. It featured on a number of radio shows including 2 ASOT plays by Armin Van Buuren, The Gareth Emery Podcast and Paul Oakenfold's Planet Perfecto show. "Anodyne" quickly climbed the download charts including the Beatport Trance Top 100 and Audiojelly in addition to a very positive Mixmag review.
Following a remix request he then produced an uplifting rework of 'Rene Dale - Reset'. After being re-licensed by Monster Tunes the remix went on to be featured by Armin Van Buuren on ASOT with further support from Giuseppe Ottaviani and many others with additional praise from Mixmag. More recently, his single 'Evolve' was supported as the opening track to Aly & Fila's set at Godskitchen Global Gathering 2012, one of several productions on the way.
On the DJ front a guest mix for the Monster Tunes Radio Show with Mark Eteson has featured in addition to a highly acclaimed guest mix for Trancesound.net. He has since played at the O2 Academy (Above & Beyond UK Group Therapy Tour) and Ministry of Sound (Plastic Fondu / The Gallery).
With new productions, guest mixes and increasing DJ bookings, look out for more from him very soon.
That's the story of James Poulton so far if you read up on his discography. Monster Tunes have invested a lot of faith into James with his previous singles and their annual best of compilation released last week compiling all the very best from the label during 2012. I'm sure a James Poulton track made it into the shortlist. Having taken a fond liking to his last single on Monster ‘Evolve’ we felt the need to go have a few words with the man himself, so we did. Read all about it below.
iVibes: A very warm welcome to your first interview with i:Vibes James. Thanks for taking the time out to have a few words with us. Where in the world are you right now?
James: No problem, I’m back home and in the studio now after a crazy few months!
iVibes: You were born and bread right here in the UK, what were your early musical influences growing up?
James: Initially Classical music followed by Pop in the late 80’s and then Rock in the early to mid 90’s. I got the first Prodigy album in the late 90’s and this was my pretty much my introduction to Dance Music!
iVibes: Was music something you always wanted to get into growing up?
James: Yeah I’m told I was crazy into music from just a few years old and had an early start as a musician training classically on the guitar at primary school
iVibes: We’ve read that you were into rock music before discovering dance music with a certain Cream Ibiza compilation. Which Cream compilation was it and why did the mix draw you so much into getting involved into electronic dance music and in particular, trance?
James: Cream Ibiza Arrivals 1999! It had such an impact that I didn’t purposely listen to anything non-dance related for years after that. I loved the melodies, synthesizer sounds and energy of the music. It made everything else sound dull by comparison!
iVibes: Had you ever thought about getting into Trance music or had any favourite tracks from the genre before that moment?
James: Unfortunately no, the Cream Ibiza Arrivals album was the first time I ever heard Trance if I remember correctly…!
iVibes: You’ve been playing on the London scene for quite some time. Where was your first gig and how did it go?
James: My first gig was at the Dogstar in Brixton. My sister was living in London and one of her friends put on a party there and invited me to play. I’d only got decks a few weeks before and it went pretty well considering
iVibes: How did that compare to your first visit to the Ministry of Sound
James: The Dogstar was my first ever gig and Ministry was my first gig at a Superclub. No comparison on the venues but a similar level of anticipation before the gigs! Ministry of Sound was also the first time I’d used a club setup designed by engineers, you can really hear what you’re doing as the acoustics are great in the booth and it’s an awesome setup with all the latest gear.
iVibes: Your debut track ‘Anodyne’ got signed straight to Monster Tunes and soon established itself in the play lists of Paul Oakenfold and Armin van Buuren. What was the inspiration behind the track?
James: My melodic inspiration tends to hit at random and it was essentially inspired by the scene and all the tracks that I had been hearing up to that point. Also by awesome events that I have been to around the world like ASOT, Trance Energy, Godskitchen, Gatecrasher and many more!
iVibes: With you not having any previous releases were you surprised how much praise the track got?
James: It was actually my first demo and took me so long to complete that I couldn’t really gage how well it was going to do by the end. The DJ support was amazing and hearing Armin Van Buuren’s comments on ASOT is a moment I’ll always remember as a producer!
iVibes: Before then, had you been experimenting with other productions and playing these out live?
James: I used to play and produce a much faster sound on the London scene and had some success with a bootleg remix, getting it played at events like Tidy Trax and Sundissential by DJ GRH around that time. I didn’t send demos out even when my original tracks of the time were also getting big reactions as I wanted a higher standard of production to deliver the melody as intended.
iVibes: Did you teach yourself the ins and outs of production, mastering and sound design?
James: Yeah I’m all self-taught, mostly from books. The first major breakthrough I had with production was the result of “The Dance Music Manual” by Rick Snoman. Before this book I was essentially guessing, working things out but not doing anything properly on a technical level. I still advise people to read the book to this day as even though the genres have moved on, most of the principals and technical aspects are the same. You just have to apply the knowledge to modern releases and technology. I moved on to focus on Mixing, Mastering and Sound Design as you need to cover a lot of ground to produce modern records. I’m still learning whenever I can as I want every record I do to be technically better than the last.
iVibes: Have you had any helpful tips from those within the scene along the way to where you are now?
James: James Hannan and Mark Eteson have been giving me advice since I signed with Monster Tunes and I’ve definitely refined my productions since then, particularly on the arrangement side and reworking track elements to fit the current scene. It’s great to have this input as I’d been working in complete isolation up to that point.
iVibes: Do you take inspiration from other tracks out there or try to come up with your own individual style?
James: I tend to take inspiration from other tracks in terms of style, arrangement and sound design and then make my ideal record from the ground up. I used to go completely my own way which was both a good and a bad thing. Good because I have tons of melodies down that sound different to what’s out there right now but bad in the way that a lot of them don’t really fit when you try to implement them. A lot of the work for me right now is reworking my written tracks into the current scene, a scene that has now changed and keeps evolving
iVibes: If you could describe your own production style, how would you describe it?
James: The whole scene is changing so much right now and me with it but my sound is always intended to be melodic and driving!
iVibes: What studio kit do you currently use to produce with and what tips would you give any new forthcoming producer when looking into production?
James: The most important tip to give any new producer is that you can make a great sounding track on almost any platform these days. The high end gear is nice to have and makes life easier or more fun but someone with less gear and more knowledge will still get better results. I actually started out in Reason but gave up on it because I thought I needed lots of hardware and a High End DAW like Logic or Cubase to make a release standard track. In reality this isn’t the case and the way that you approach a track and the knowledge you have is more important than what DAW you use and what plugins or hardware you own. There are differences in the inspiration that different tools give you and in the way that you work but ultimately you should choose what you enjoy working with and what works best for you. Another really important thing is not to use cracked software. The first thing I often have to explain to new producers is not to just download a hacked DAW or plugin! Firstly the developers need the support to keep their businesses running and to fund further development. Secondly you don’t want to be running tools that have had their code fucked with! It’s hard enough to get your setup right without introducing code that was not intended to be there or work in the first place. You should run properly licensed software and get the frequently required updates to keep everything working as intended by the developers. Stability is everything as you can lose that killer track or riff and not get it back! It’s also been said many times before but you should invest in the best studio monitors that you can afford along with acoustic treatment if possible as this will make critical listening decisions much easier. Producers do get great results with surprisingly low end monitors and bad room acoustics and even headphones by referencing well against other tracks but ultimately your workflow will suffer.
Current Gear List
Low Noise Casing & Cooling Solution
Overclocked i5 2500K
8GB DDR3 Memory
ATI 7970 HD (Powering Eyefinity 3 Screen Setup)
3x 23” IPS 1920x1080 Panels
240GB Solid State Hard Drive
1TB External Backup Hard Drive
Windows 7 SP1
Access Virus Powercore
Camel Audio Alchemy Player
Cubase 7 Synth Suite
D-CAM Synth Squad
NI Komplete Elements Incl. Reaktor Synths
Novation Bass Station
Processors and FX
112dB Redline Reverb
Computer Music Studio Plugins & Freeware
Dada Life Sausage Fattener
Focusrite Liquid Mix Compressor & EQ Emulations
Sonnox Enhance Bundle
Alesis Monitor One MKII
Focusrite Liquid Mix
Focusrite Pro 14
Novation Impulse 61
Studio Electronics X1 Microphone
Studio Electronics RF-X Reflexion Filter
TC Powercore Element
iVibes: Your second big release came in the form of a remix of Rene Dale’s ‘Reset’ with a thumping uplifting trance piece. How did your offer to remix this track come about?
James: This was the first remix I was ever offered and I just went with it! I actually made changes to the melody and added my own elements as they gave me free reign to rework the track.
iVibes: Given your huge success following on from your first two releases have you had any big producers knocking at the door for a remix, which you can tell us about anyway?
James: I’ve had a fair few offers since Anodyne but nothing really high profile yet, I’m still in the early stages as a producer with a ton of new tracks in the production queue!
iVibes: Have you ever thought about collaborating with another artist and given the choice of any producer in the world, which would you, collaborate with?
James: Actually I plan to be working on a collaborative project in the next few months; it will be cool to see how another artist works as I have been pretty isolated in the studio! I’d like to work with pretty much every major artist to be honest …!
iVibes: Is there any track old, new or even obscure you would ever like to remix?
James: I’ve recently been really impressed with Veela’s vocals and songwriting. A lot of the vocal remixes I’ve done over the years have turned out really well and I’d definitely be up for working on one of her projects.
iVibes: What other artists have caught your eye over the past few months with their music?
James: Estiva, Raphael Frost, James Dymond, Darren Porter & Photographer to name just a few!
iVibes: Your most recent single release on Monster Tunes ‘Evolve’ definitely caught our eye when it hit the speakers. It’s a little more melodic than pounding compared to your first two tracks but the James Poulton sound is all in there. How did you create such a warm and inviting melody for the track?
James: Evolve was the first track that I aimed at the slower Trance 2.0 sound but I wanted to still retain aspects of the 138 uplifting sound. The technical side of the production is a lot better as you get more breathing space / note extension at a lower BPM which makes it possible to get more low end and overall definition. On the melodic side I wrote a chord structure and then improvised a live melody over the top and that was it after some tweaking. It originally also had melodic vocal cuts and I really miss them now, I’ll probably use this version in future DJ sets!
iVibes: Where do you get your inspiration for the melodies in your music from?
James: It’s hard to pinpoint but I would say that for most musicians really good melodies are mostly derived from emotions. I also get a lot of random inspiration away from the studio which means playing the melody into a phone app before its lost!
iVibes: We ask the questions
James: I give the answer!
iVibes: What’s next in the production line for James Poulton?
James: I have three main tracks in production right now and I’m hopefully starting work on a collab project. I just rebuilt my entire studio setup in order to work faster and this will result in a lot more tracks this year.
iVibes: What are the plans for the next few months having well and truly established a reputation for being one of the brightest new electronic talents to come out the UK this year?
James: Thanks! I’ll be working in the studio as much as possible on new productions and I’m looking to do more gigs if possible but really need the chart presence to make this happen!
Finally, on a lighter note we’ve a quick five roundup for you:
iVibes: What are five of your favourite tracks of all time?
James: This would take me days to work out so I’ll mention the 5 that spring to mind right now!
Pryda – Melo
Sean Tyas – Lift
Ralphie B – Massive
Estiva & Cardinal Feat. Arielle Maren – Wait Forever (Estiva Mix)
iiO – Rapture (Armin Van Buuren Remix)
iVibes: What is your favourite Television show?
James: Breaking Bad!
When was the last time you went swimming?
James: Ibiza opening!
PC or Mac?
James: PC and Mac! I’m all PC based at the moment but will likely implement a Macbook and OSX for gigs if not using CDJs.
iVibes: What’s your favourite tipple first thing in the morning?
James: Strong coffee as I have generally been working stupid late in the studio!
Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions James! We really enjoy the music and can’t wait to hear more as we head into 2013 which I’m sure will be a very big year for you!
MONSTER TUNES BEST OF 2012 - MIXED BY JAMES POULTON
:: Available right here!
JAMES POULTON MIXES
:: Check out James Soundclould page for his latest DJ mixes!