JAMES HARCOURT

Introduction 143

With his recent releases on labels like Parquet and Sincopat, James Harcourt has been become one of our absolute favorite producers out there and we can't get enough of his eclectic, minimalistic style and organic arrangements. In his Introduction he takes you on a diverse, melodic journey right into your heart.

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Hello James, welcome to our Introduction series! We're absolutely in love with your recent releases, particularly 'India' and 'Beholden'. How would you describe the production process of these two masterpieces? How do you get into a creative flow?

"The production process normally takes the pattern of an initial, fairly short and very exciting session where the main melodic progression or lead sound is defined. I build a track quickly around it and then normally either wait, or ask someone who is honest what they think. With "India", it was almost good to go immediately but needed mix fine tuning and some focus in the arrangement which was a bit long. With "Beholden" it was a melodic progression which I loved, but it didn't have a good track so I left it for a few months and then when I went back, the new version that everybody knows happened in a few hours one morning at dawn. The bit I love most is that early stage where excitement takes over and things just seem to happen organically."

How do you stay focussed in a world of constant distraction?

"I used to find this hard but eventually I understood that shorter, focused sessions are better than days of half-hearted half-focus. So I work very early in the morning only on creative stuff, or for 1-2 hours in the evening. I turn off all social media, phones, browsers etc. and focus 100% on music for that period of time."

Do you have a morning routine?

"Yes, I wake up anywhere between 4am and 7am and work on music for anything from 1 to 5 hours. I do a short exercise routine which literally takes 4 minutes before I start all this."

What, for you, is the purpose of art?

"I'm not sure it's "the" purpose, but a key factor of art is that it provides a means of expression and a taste of absolute freedom, often for people who cannot express another way or are controlled/constrained by other life factors. For the receptor, it provides moments of recognition and connection that often a whole conventional life cannot provide."

What is your opinion on success? What is your opinion on failure?

"This is a fascinating topic. I've been speaking to - and watching the streams of - a guy involved in the business side of music - who talks frequently and publicly about achieving success in melodic techno. He talks about how there is no chance for an artist acting alone to compete in "the champions league" of the scene - about how music is just an entry card to a game where you require a brand with a team around you and serious investment to even have a chance. At that point it's all about strategic moves and "positioning". There is some truth in this - and if you define success this way, you need so much more than music these days. Your social media persona and presence becomes paramount. Those that have adapted best and earliest are now "winning" in this sense. Equally however, you can define success as simply having a roof over your head and having the luxury of having a DAW and enough plugins to produce music you love. And everything in-between."

In which ways could the scene improve in the future?

"The music scene is generally quite top-heavy, in that the very highest paid and most influential 1% take 90% of the available rewards leaving a huge number of people squabbling and scratching around for what's left,holding their hands out at the base of the pyramid - a sort of exaggerated version of "trickle-down economics". I think for the scene to improve in anyway, each individual needs to improve by becoming conscious of ... and ultimately resisting - the egotistical impulses which are in all of us, as human beings."

What can we expect from you in the near future?

"I am entering a phase of remix releases where I've done some remixes which I'm really in love with, for D-Nox & Beckers, Rafael Certao and Robert Babicz. I am working on another one for ICONYC and I have a 5-track E.P coming out on UK label Renaissance. The remixes will come out between now and October/November and the E.P is coming in August."

How did you, as a musician, cope with the limitations of the scene by the COVID pandemic?

"I personally grew a lot and didn't have any problems during this period. I had quit music around 2017 having only half learned how to produce properly. I was not playing live or DJing and wasn't reliant in any way on music for income. When the pandemic started, I was long out of the scene. The extra time at home allowed me to reflect and I made serious life changes which led me back to creative thinking and around August 2020 I started producing music again. Around Feb 2021, I stopped drinking alcohol and eliminated mindless and negative social media usage to zero and the result was that the music began to flow again."

 

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