• Sam Fleming

AN INTERVIEW WITH LORAINE JAMES

This is an edited transcript of an interview with the London-based producer Loraine James who we hosted on our podcast, Two Virgins. The full podcast episode can be found on Spotify here.

Photo by: Jase Cooper

Loraine James is an electronic producer based in London, who effortlessly blends electronica and IDM with whispers of jazz and ambiance, all wrapped up in the artist's avant-garde aesthetic and sensibility. James broke through to mainstream public consciousness with last year's incredible album For You And I, but this year Loraine James has taken it to a whole new level. In the last few months, she has released four new projects, each conveying a completely different feeling, and often operating in different genres. Loraine James has proven this year that she is one of the most creative and talented producers in the world and we are so excited to see where she goes next. James' upcoming Ep, Nothing, will be released on October 2nd, and today she talks to us about finding her distinctive sound, collaborating with new artists, and her favorite Netflix shows at the moment.


Sam: You said the part of the reason why you're releasing a lot of your music under the name-your-price basis on Bandcamp was to support people who have been impacted by the pandemic. Looking through the Bandcamp comments, I saw a bunch of people saying that this music brought them to tears and thanking you so much for putting this into their lives. How has it been to receive that feedback and know that this music is going out to so many people?


Loraine James: It's honestly crazy. I'm doing this by myself and when I want something to come out, I just put it out. There's no press, nothing has been built up for months, I'm just putting music out based on how I feel.


I didn't expect that kind of reception at all, I didn't think people would be that bothered, especially because I keep putting out stuff. I've been thinking in the back of my head that I'm probably doing too much, but at the same with all this free time, why not? I'm just lucky that I'm able to just put shit out whenever and not being forced to put something out by a viral label or something. I never expected people to be moved to tears. When I was making that EP I just wanted it to be fun.


Sam: It was awesome to see the reception that everything's been getting. How has it been producing music in quarantine? Has it changed how you produce at all?


Loraine James: The last EP I put out, I did before quarantine. I did it in February or early March, just before quarantine. Since then, I've been working on a new album and other bits of music. My moods have been up and down and I've been getting frustrated at myself about not being productive. But I'm also like, "Loraine chill. You got all this free time, there's no time limit, there's no real structure," so just trying to chill. But, sometimes I do have my down moments where I'm pretty frustrated and I won't do anything music-related for about two weeks or something like that.


Teresa: What else other than music has been keeping you busy during this time? Have any of those things been a source of inspiration?


Loraine James: Watching shitty TV honestly. When I've not been productive, Netflix and I have been best friends. I also got into Candy Crush over quarantine, I finally understand the hype... five years later. I'm on level 400 right now. I haven't really taken up anything during quarantine, I've just not done much. Just been on my laptop scrolling through Twitter but nothing inspirational and groundbreaking.


Trying to arrange even just meeting your friends in person who live around the corner takes like two years. Sometimes it's just easier through the internet.

Sam: I think everyone's been doing a lot of Twitter scrolling. I wanted to talk a little bit about the For You and I demos. When I first listened -- I feel like you hear a lot of demo projects and a lot of people have released demo projects over quarantine -- the project felt so complete and so sequenced. For your projects in general, do you finish all of the tracks and then lay them out?


Loraine James: Once I finish the tracks, I listen to them and then I place them and wherever I think they fit into the tracklist. I tend to do song titles after I've listened to everything and then I decide on a name, so everything tends to come after the actual production.


Sam: What struck me was how finished every song sounded. So, did you have to shore up the album before you put it together, or were these just files on your hard drive that you threw on the project?


Loraine James: The first five would have gone towards For You And I. They were a couple of songs I wasn't entirely happy with and I didn't know what to do with. They were alight, but I didn't quite know how to finish them, so I just decided to not put them on the album. The other half of the For You And I demos was completely another album I was working on before For You And I. That was more inspired by a lot of Japanese, electronic artists I was listening to at the time. It also felt a bit not finished, so I left it there.


Coincidentally, the first Bandcamp day fell on the six month anniversary of For You And I. So, I think a week prior I was like, "shit, I should probably just bundle this all up and see what happens."


Sam: With every single EP, and even the different songs on the For You And I demos, you really do a good job of bouncing between different genres. What inspires these genre switches? Is it whatever you're listening to at the moment, or do you go into a project going for a different sound?


Loraine James: It's literally just whatever I listen to. I always check out what's new, even if I know I won't necessarily like it. I always click on YouTube or whatever, just to check a tidbit of a video that dropped two hours ago. I'm inspired by things I don't necessarily like without realizing it and I find those sounds implemented in my tracks. When people ask me what genre of music I make, I find it quite hard to describe. It's whatever floats my boat at that particular moment.


Sam: What do you listen to mostly? Who are some of your biggest inspirations?


Loraine James: I've listened to a lot of UK drill for the past year or two. I've listened to a lot of Lianne La Havas, Young Lean for some reason I'm kind of into this year. Random shit, just anything. My music taste has kept getting broader the past couple of years. It used to be more like you have to listen to one thing.


Teresa: Can you talk a little bit about your upcoming, "Nothing" EP. We both heard the first single "Don't You See It" and thought it was super beautiful, but also a bit different from what you did on, For You And I and the music you released earlier this year.


Loraine James: That was the first thing I made this year in January or February just before the new EP. It's definitely slower and moodier than I've ever done before which is a nice change because a lot of my music sounds kind of pretty in some ways. I hit up a few people on Twitter, like Tardast who I've been a fan of for the past year or so. I asked Jonnine if she would want to sing on it. When I sent her the instrumental, at first I was really unsure about the track -- I wasn't really feeling it to be honest -- but once she sent me her vocals and I changed the arrangement a bit, I fell in love with the song and I really liked how it turned out.


Sam: We haven't gotten the chance to hear it yet, but it seems like there's a lot of different collaborators on the new EP. How was collaborating during this time and how do you approach collaborators in general?


Loraine James: I usually just ask them on Twitter to be honest. Lila Tirando a Violeta, who is also on the EP, is from Uruguay and Tardast is up North, and Jonnine is in Australia. So WeTransfer has been my best friend cause it's letting me send music back and forth, which is cool because I guess kind of a shy person anyways so doing things through the internet is sometimes easier for me. I'm cool with it and sometimes it can be quicker. Trying to arrange even just meeting your friends in person who live around the corner takes like two years. Sometimes it's just easier through the internet.


Sam: Is there any reason that you wanted more voices on the new EP?


Loraine James: For years I've been saying to myself that I should collaborate with more people and I just haven't. I've had the odd one or two, but I never really done a collaborative thing. I really like generating new ideas that I never would have done by myself. Like I said, even with "Don't You See It," that probably wouldn't have even made if it wasn't for Jonnine putting her spin on it. I definitely think collaboration is a good thing and I'm doing more of it as well which is fun.


Teresa: Going back to your journey as an artist, how has being from London, impacted your musical development. Why do you choose to visibly center the city through your music?


Loraine James: Talking about the For You And I cover, I spent most of my life in that particular area and it's shaped who I am. Without that, I probably would be a very different person. I wouldn't be making the music that I am. London has so many cultures and stuff you just take from everything that you wouldn't necessarily take if you were somewhere else. There's always new shit you hear somewhere in London, so many places you can go to. I really enjoy London, because you experience things you don't necessarily experience in other places.


Sam: We're both from Chicago so we definitely get that bigger city vibe too. I know that performing is a big part of what you do and it's something that you really enjoy. How has it been not to be able to play any clubs or anything like that recently?


Loraine James: I was really looking forward to this year because from the beginning of the year, more people had discovered For You And I. I was really looking forward to playing festivals outside of the UK. It's kind of a bummer, especially making music as well, I was really l excited to play the EP. It's definitely been pretty shit, cause performing is another way to express yourself.


I'm a shy person. I just like playing a dark, smokey room, not giving a shit what people think. I definitely miss that, even the sweatiness and all that stuff.


Sam: Out of all the things that you've released this year so far, do you have any favorites or stand out pieces that you really want to push more people to hear.


Loraine James: I'm surprised that everyone likes the "Hmm" Ep the most cause it's really different from everything I've ever done. Definitely, before COVID, I was imagining playing that in the club. Also, I didn't get to play a lot of For You And I out that much. There were some venues I was supposed to play this year that weren't necessarily that clubby. It would have been nice playing the slower songs, which I didn't get a chance to cause you wouldn't necessarily want to hear them at a club. I was looking forward to that.


Sam: I really loved the Bangers And Mash EP, it almost made me feel like I was in a club even through quarantine. Are those kinds of remixes something that you think you'll go towards more in the future?


Loraine James: When I make an album or proper EP, I rarely use samples cause copyright and all that. But a lot of the time I'll use an acapella just to see how it sounds. Even like with For You And I, I had Aaliyah's vocals on the track "Sensual" at first because I just wanted to see how it sounded.


I'm a shy person. I just like playing a dark, smokey room, not giving a shit what people think. I definitely miss that, even the sweatiness and all that stuff.

I love playing around with samples all the time, but I don't usually release it officially. I definitely wanted to do that upbeat thing as much as possible now that I hadn't released something samply in a while.


Sam: I heard the Pop Smoke at the end too, which was kind of wild cause it's like Chicago to UK, to New York, back to the UK with the drill thing. You said that you've been watching a bunch of Netflix. I know, we both have too, what's been keeping your mind busy.


Loraine James: I just finished "Selling Sunset." It's just very silly and easy, separate from the real world, a fancy LA life. I've been watching that, I also started watching 3%.


Teresa: Somebody just recommended me "Selling Sunset" yesterday. He was like, "how have you not watched this?" I was What? This is such a random thing."


Loraine James: It is, it is. I was like, "What is this?" This is seven hours long." But yeah, I recommended it.


Teresa: No, that's great. Last question, how you got started in this genre of music in the first place cause I feel it's somewhat niche, and especially being so young, it's really hard to have already found that pocket. Growing up were you always listening to this type of music, or did it just so happen that this was the music you started producing right off the bat?


Loraine James: I mean, when I was younger, I was listening to a lot of light rock and things like that. Then it was Linkin Park and nu-metal, and then it was math-rock. I definitely listened to a lot of stuff from the Tony Hawk video game soundtrack and Smackdown versus raw... stuff like that.


Just before sixteen, I started listening to electronic music. Then over time, crazier stuff like clubby, really glitchy, Telefon Tel Aviv, or the club stuff we hear now. It wasn't until like sixteen. I guess you have to really dig for it as well cause a lot of electronic music is pretty standard. Back then it was about the EDM stuff, but I was never into that.


Sam: Yeah, same. We're super excited for the new EP, is there anything else you want to share with the people?


Loraine James: It's a bit different, it's a bit trancey, a bit gritty. You guys only have to wait a few weeks.


Sam: Is there anything else we should be looking out for from you for the rest of the year?


Loraine James: I think I'm done for this year after this EP. I think I've put out enough for sure.

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