JamesDJJ is an American rapper, songwriter, singer, and model. Born in Rome, Italy, he earned public attention after releasing his first album Invictus in 2017. He is a great advocate for the LGBTQI+ community, rights for euthanasia, and cannabis legalization. Outgoing, eccentric, with a provocateur persona, on the 29th of January 2021 James DJJ dropped the single ‘Emily’, the first song extracted from his new album.
- Can you tell us a little bit about where you come from and how you got started making music?
JamesDJJ: I was born in Rome and I grew up there and in United States, and from many other places in the world, I started making music because I loved it.
- Have you had formal training or are you self-taught?
JamesDJJ: Both, I had learned to do what I do mainly because I loved it and I did it myself, and also because I had lessons, I’m an Hybrid.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
JamesDJJ: it depends a lot from the genre and the mood I’m in the moment that I’m listening or writing music, but mainly Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and many others, I can get influences from everything, I’m very chameleonic.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
JamesDJJ: Everybody could find different key elements in my music, and in everybody’s music, but mainly the lyrics. Every time I release music people are like “wow that’s so lyrical and sentimental” and I’m like “well, I wrote that for that reason”
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
JamesDJJ: Everybody takes inspirations from others, but there is a big difference from taking inspiration and copying someone, I never struggled for being authentic to my “artistic” side, it comes natural to me, but a lot of people copied me after I did something that was memorable.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
JamesDJJ: Music and Art could mean everything, I could speak of mental illness or social problems in my music, although those 2 themes are so different, that’s still music.
- Do you ever specifically write a song with musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and trust that it will be appreciated by an empathetic audience?
JamesDJJ: Actually in my first album ‘Invictus’ not all of the lyrics were mine, some lines were wrote by others mainly because that style was more appreciated, but since I started having my audience I begun to be more personal and authentic with them, in fact my new music is all wrote by me.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do you most often start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed musical piece? Do you usually start with a beat, a narrative in your head, or a melody?
JamesDJJ: I could start from a beat that I really like and start writing lyrics on it or I could start from a piece of poetry or lyric that I wrote and put that on piano, I am really versatile
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your musical career, or life, so far? And how did you overcome that event?
JamesDJJ: The most difficult thing I had to deal with in my life is the same thing that could be so beautiful: people, you can’t imagine how cruel people could be, and sometimes so nice.
- On the other hand what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or career so far?
JamesDJJ: the best part of my career are always people, my fans, those who follows me and tells me to go on.
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
JamesDJJ: I don’t mind about other people thoughts, that’s what my friends says about me too.
- Putting aside the accolades or criticisms that fans or the media may afford your releases, what’s the one thing about you or your music, you think people overlook or misinterpret most often?
JamesDJJ: My image, I am like a human chameleon, I change look, hairs, clothes, sound in minutes, and I do that because as an artist I have the power of changing myself to tell a story, being an artist is like completing a portrait, I can chose how to change that white canvas in whatever I am thinking at the moment.
- Where did the original idea and inspiration behind your single “Emily” come from, and is there an overarching theme and message you’re trying to send out via the project?
JamesDJJ: Actually I have a friend that stated that Emily was a girl that wasn’t happy for many reasons, what I did was to re-use that concept by saying that we are all “Emily” and what really matter is to get up again no matter what life may throw on your way, that’s why the song starts with: “Wake up another day, ready to fail”
- Do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you think everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own way?
JamesDJJ: Art, and music, has free interpretation, and people can see whatever they want in my art, and many times is also difficult to understand my messages, I’m a living enigma.
- Do you have a particular hobby or activity outside of music that you use to rejuvenate your creativity or inspiration?
JamesDJJ: Actually Art is my hobby, and I made that my work, fashion, music, photography and much else now is in my life every day, and I’m glad for that.
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
JamesDJJ: My motto would be “Be yourself no matter what the price is.”
- Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
JamesDJJ: Both, depends how I am feeling in that moment, if I want to create of expose my art.
- What’s the most exciting part of the process of putting a new song together for you?
JamesDJJ: Many thing have their “fashion”, press, interviews, TV, fams and concerts, when that’s possible (coronavirus).
- Do you ever collaborate with other artists? And if you could work with any international music star right now, who would that be, and why?
JamesDJJ: I had many opportunities to be a featured artist in someone work, I preferred not to because I didn’t find myself in that art piece and I preferred not to be in that. You’ll see what I am working on with a Star.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
JamesDJJ: I achieved my goal, making music and art my work, what’s amazing is to be appreciated while you’re expressing yourself through your voice, that is a representation of my whole body many times, more than my clothe choices.