Spotlight On: Justin James
Hailing from just across the Detroit river, Canadian DJ and producer Justin James already has a list of achievements that overshadow most artists his age, but it’s obvious that the techno maverick is just getting started. His rich, dark, organic style of techno has lent itself to an impressive discography including releases on Richie Hawtin’s Minus label and Dubfire’s Sci + Tec imprint. Aside from production, James has also been working towards the start of his own record label, refused., which launches today. We had the chance to catch up with the up-and-comer ahead of his Movement Festival performance about his new EP, Movement memories, and more!
RP: After successful releases on big techno labels like Sci + Tec and Minus, what made you decide to start your own record label?
JJ: The launch of my own imprint is simply another step in my journey as an artist. Releasing on labels like Minus and Sci+Tec have provided me with a better chance to have my say in the shaping of this culture. I’m fortunate to now share my music in a timely fashion as well as share music from my friends and young artists that are doing amazing things.
Tell us about the philosophy behind refused. How will you differentiate your imprint from other techno labels?
The philosophy behind refused. is quite simple. We want to showcase amazing music by amazing artists. The artists I work with are people that I’ve developed a personal relationship with and are in the right headspace to work together as a family. I hope this will show in our release schedule and our upcoming label showcases.
It only seems appropriate that the first release on refused. be from its creator. Entitled Not The Curator, this 4-track offering comes out May 20th. Tell us a little bit about each track and the concept behind the EP.
Three of the four tracks are tracks that have been in the making for a while. “Not The Curator,” “Inquire Within,” and “Absolutely Necessary” were all tracks that were played by Richie Hawtin in some of the world’s biggest stages and also were staples for his Enter. events in Ibiza. Each is a distinct track that highlights my musical mindset at various times. Groovy (“Not The Curator”), aggressive and funky (“Inquire Within”), and trippy (“Absolutely Necessary”). “Who’s Your Friend” was written a bit later. It was inspired after some studio sessions with Nsound after we collaborated on two tracks for our Exchange EP on Minus.
You’ve been to Detroit’s Movement Festival every year since inception. Tell us how the festival has evolved throughout the years and why you think it continues to remain at the top of the list of dance music best festivals in the U.S.
Movement is the realest of the real. It’s a no-frills, top quality, festival. It embodies Detroit in every aspect of its design. Artists love playing here and having the chance to be part of history. Detroit is where it started and where people keep looking back to. People who have never been to this event should definitely make the pilgrimage.
For the very first time Movement will feature a Silent Disco stage, which you will be playing on Saturday night from 6-8 PM. Will this be your first experience DJing a Silent Disco? What can we expect?
This is certainly my first experience playing something similar to Silent Disco. DJing while people are wearing headphones is an amazing concept. I just hope they will be able to truly feel the music. Listening to techno and house music is certainly an audible thing, but it is more importantly a physical thing. Nonetheless, it’s going to be an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see my Mom, Dad, girlfriend, close friends and everyone else grooving out and actually having no audible sound resonating throughout the tent.
In addition to playing Movement and your latest release, Not the Curator EP, Any upcoming gigs/releases lined up for the summer our readers should know about?
refused. will have a number of releases pumping out this summer from some great artists. We’re really excited about that. As for as gigs, I’ve got a bunch lined up in North America, Europe and South America as well as a huge festival in September back in North America.