Hailing from Vancouver, BC, Jason James is an independent hip-hop artist getting ready to drop his third album No Weapon. However, what’s unique in this situation is that Jason’s launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for visuals and PR for the album’s release.
As big supporters of dope independent hip-hop artists hustling around the world, once we read about Jason’s long, tough grind to release No Weapon, we had to reach out and showcase his journey on our platform.
1) One of the main things that caught my eye about your recent article – Fear, Exhaustion & One Artist’s Admission He Needs Crowdfunding Help – is that you used crowdfunding to raise money for your upcoming album. What is the crowdfunding process like and do you see it becoming a viable finance option for artists in the future?
Well, in my circumstance I need to raise money to hire a publicist- the album is ready to go.
For the entire duration of my career I’ve been doing everything on my own and while I’ve accomplished a lot by myself, I’ve fallen short when it came to the bigger media outlets because I didn’t have proper representation.
It’s always been the major missing piece in my career. My reach has been limited and what I need most at this point in time is to expand my audience.
The crowd funding process is long and exhausting. To any artists out there thinking about doing a campaign, be prepared to work non-stop for about 3 months.
It takes a few months of preparation before you can even consider launching a campaign and there’s tons of work that go into it.
It’s definitely a viable option since most of the people who will support it are friends and family, but I would view it as a last resort.
If you have any other route to get to your goals, take it. Crowd funding sounds like a great idea, but once you get going you realize how much work goes into it to do it correctly. You have to really want what you’re after.
2) Let’s take it back. You’re originally from Vancouver, BC – who were some your early musical influences?
My earliest musical influences were Pink Floyd and Public Enemy. To this day they both massively influence my music.
In my opinion, Dark Side of the Moon is the greatest album ever made and I’ve been chasing that album since I began making music.
Led Zeppelin, Nas, Eminem, Queen and Outkast are some of the other influences I picked up along the way.
3) Do you still remember that moment when you decided that you wanted to pursue making music for a living?
I kind of do. I was born partially deaf but I loved music immediately. My dad was a musician so our house was always filled with music. I knew right away at around 18 months old what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
4) All three of your albums – Marvelous World of Color (2010), Pyramids In Stereo (2012) and the upcoming No Weapon – were produced by the same producer Rodney Hazard. You don’t see this very often these days – what made you decide to stick with one producer?
Rodney and I began working together around 2008. After we released Marvelous World of Color I think we both just felt like we found our sound and we didn’t want to stray from it.
There were tons of mistakes made on that first album but it gave us a direction to move in so we just kept going. Personally, I don’t like making albums with tons of different producers.
I want every album to be an experience and you can’t really achieve that with a bunch of different sounds.
5) What is your creation process like? How does it go from being an idea to a fully fledged song?
I don’t really have a process. In the past, Rodney would send folders of music and I would throw them on my phone and let them play.
Whichever one grabbed me at that point would end up becoming a song. I generally just wait for the inspiration to hit me. I don’t like forcing songs or ideas and I’ve never been the type of person who can just sit down and write whenever I feel like it.
I need the music to strike an emotion inside of me and then the song takes shape.
6) Tell me about your No Weapon – what’s the inspiration behind this album?
No Weapon is a continuation of Marvelous World of Color and Pyramids In Stereo. I always aim for my albums to pick up where the last one left off so it feels cohesive if you listen to them back to back.
This time around though everything thing is stronger- from the music to the lyrics. I went a lot deeper this time and the content is really heavy. I cover everything from personal struggles, American Imperialism, war and terrorism to religion and sexuality in the digital age.
I made over 30 songs for this album and cut it down to 10 and spent four years writing and recording for this one.
7) There’s no doubt that you’ve experienced some incredibly tough times as a musician but what do you still love about being an independent artist?
I just love having the freedom to make the music I want to make without any oversight. I’m not a big fan of the music industry and the people inside of it so it’s nice to be somewhat removed from it.
I don’t have anybody telling me I need a hit or what to write so I don’t feel restricted creatively in any way.
8) If you could go back 5 years and do things differently, what part of your career would you switch up and what would you have kept the same?
I probably just would have told myself not to worry about what people think. I spent a lot of time thinking about who would be listening to my music and trying to tailor my music for them.
But when Marvelous World of Color came out, I ended up playing to an entirely different audience.
I would keep everything the same though because all of it brought me to where I am now and I feel like No Weapon is the album I was born to make.
9) Random question – if you could collaborate with any three artists – a rapper, a singer and a producer – which three would they be?
Eminem because I believe he’s the best MC who ever lived and I would want to go rhyme for rhyme with him to see if I could hang and not be completely destroyed.
Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd) because he’s the greatest lyricist who ever lived and his songs have influenced virtually every aspect of my creative output.
In all honesty though, I would probably rather just have a few beers with him and dig into his mind rather than make a song with him.
Bob Ezrin. He produced The Wall by Pink Floyd. I think with him behind the boards I would make something that would cross all genres and that’s really what I’m after.
He actually lives here in Vancouver so I’m close, but I don’t think he likes Hip Hop music.
10) What’s next for you?
I’m not looking too far ahead right now. I want to make this Kickstarter a success and hire a publicist to get this album out as far and wide as possible. That’s all I can see on the horizon at this point.