James Solace, also known as James Burnham, has made his name through a penchant for moving through many musical styles with ease. This staple UK artist is always one step ahead of the trend, mixing new with old.
His productions are always of the highest quality, from his trademark tech house grooves released under alias, Burnski, to his INSTINCT alias/label where he channels drum & bass, garage, and 2-step.
This year alone, he’s released the highly acclaimed ‘Mind Music’ on Hot Creations, ‘Ghost Town’ on Last Night On Earth, and ‘Jungle’ on Knee Deep In Sound. With a forthcoming Setting Sun/The Light EP on Four Thirty Two this April, James continues to put in work with numerous releases lined up for the rest of the year.
Find his latest EP here and read on for our exclusive interview with him!
Hi James, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Can you please give our readers a quick background of who you are as an artist and what have you done previously?
I’ve released under quite a few names over the years. Burnski and INSTINCT are the more known ones. The James Solace stuff is separate to them and a new project to get my teeth into. It’s important to do what gets you excited and just go with it and that’s why another name is in the mix now.
We’ve seen you release music under a number of aliases. What inspired the sound behind James Solace?
I have always wanted to have an alias that focuses more on music which creates moments. They’re tracks that work in different situations and environments to other aliases. I have a live set for it and the idea is to keep the energy up, create a moment, and just have fun with it all.
I feel like it’s my younger self making them sometimes, that feeling and excitement when you are getting into it all for the first time.
Also what inspired the name, is there a story to it?
It was actually an ex-girlfriend who came up with the name years ago now. I always liked it and knew I would use it for something.
Can you talk us through your studio setup? How do you like to work?
I have a lot of synths and equipment which I’ve collected over the years, but these days I am working a lot more restricted. I like to limit what I use a bit more now. I find having less options helps me get things done quicker and doesn’t overcomplicate it at all.
I am making music everyday and just keep moving forward with it. I tend to know what projects I am working on and like to mix it all up a bit to keep it exciting.
I hear you have a new live show ready which you debuted at Mint Warehouse in Leeds. What was the reaction like and what is the setup for the live show?
It was great and I got some really good feedback. It was my first one and I loved it. It’s fresh and exciting to do new things and a live set has always been something that excites me.
I want to get out of my comfort zone and feel nervous before gigs as it’s so easy to go into auto pilot after so many years. I’ve been lucky as I’ve had a few gigs recently that have put me into situations where I felt nervous before them which is what I am really wanting to feel.
Doing a live set throws you in the deep end, it’s just you and your own music up there. I want to get as good at making music as I can so it’s great to have a live set as the incentive to make the best you can. I also DJ which I love too.
What are the plans for this year, do you have many gigs or releases coming up?
There is a lot of music planned this year. The Last Night On Earth EP was just released and I’m really excited as the feedback has been great. After that it’s an EP for Four Thirty Two with remixes from East End Dubs, Jansons, and Vonda 7. There will be more following on from that this year.
You’ve had a strong of strong releases to to start the year on Knee Deep In Sound, Hot Creations, and Last Night On Earth. How did you get the tracks signed? Do you know the people behind the labels personally and did you make certain tracks with each label in mind?
I was getting asked for music from some of these labels, but I didn’t send them any as I was doing other things at the time. I always wanted to have an alias which would work on these labels, so last year I put three months aside and made a massive pile of tracks and then sent them to all the labels. The response was really good and I signed a lot of EPs out of the demos.
You’ve toured all over the world. Do you have any favorite countries or clubs you like to revisit the most?
Japan has always felt really special and unique when I’ve been in the past. I really like Australia too, I’ve had some great trips there.
What would be your dream gig? Or have you already had it?
It’s hard to say, I’ve played most places now on the hit list. I just like a party that’s run right. A good sound system, a crowd into the music, and everything well organized is good for me.
Do you have any advice for young up and coming producers?
Just have fun with it all. Stay focused, driven, and make the aim to get as good as you can at your craft. I would make that more important than anything, because the more you do that, the better you get and all the perks will start coming rather than you chasing them all your life. Set goals but don’t overwhelm yourself with them.
Lastly, tell us one of the funniest things someone has requested while you are DJing.
I’ve had a few head peckers over the years. Getting a happy birthday request is always a funny one mid-set.
Cover photo by Max Cooper