21 year old DJ James Stanley, Aka Hijinkx hits Clwb Ifor Bach on the 7th of November, bringing his own unique brand of house music to the capital… 54-46 caught up with him as he made his way down from Leeds.
Describe your act to people who may not be aware of what you do.
I produce and perform electronic music ranging between 120 and 140bpm, generally conforming to house music ideals, emphasising groove and emotion.
How did you get into Dj’ing?
When you make music, there comes a point where you want to start performing it and along with playing music from other artists that you love, DJing is the ideal performance tool. Around the age of 16, I picked up a cheap controller and taught myself how to use it. As an introduction, it was a perfect learning platform and translated very well when I started using a professional club set up. I started taking things more seriously when I got to University; I sent promo mixes to reputable club nights around Leeds and finally started to acquire gig opportunities as I became acquainted with various promoters around the city. Till I was about 21, I used a laptop whilst DJing, but now I use USBs and enjoy it much more as it encourages me to feel and listen to what I’m playing as opposed to seeing it. I’d love at some point to perform my music entirely live, but at the moment, I love DJing and want to carry on doing this for the foreseeable future.
Tell us about your musical journey thus far.
I come from a family of music lovers, so before I ever touched an instrument, I was surrounded by sounds. With my mum being a fan of folk and rock, it was tape cassettes of Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin that I’d here in the back of the old VW beetle strapped up in my car seat! Around the age of 9, I was randomly selected from a big primary school class (just because I think I stuck my hand up) to learn to play Viola, and this pretty much shaped my teenage years and opened many doors playing for Orchestras and string ensembles / quartets. Like most greasy haired teenagers, I also picked up guitar and played with various bands and groups. It was around A levels where I became so interested in composition, I went on to college to study music tech for a year and then took these taught skills to University where I specialised in electro-acoustic composition. With Leeds having such a localised, quality electronic music scene, I was able to form friendships with like-minded individuals and build my profile as an artist. Today, I’m still pursuing everything Hijinkx and would love to take it full time – I’m also composing music freelance.
Who would you site as your biggest musical influences to date?
There are so many. But if I had to pin point one composer that completely encapsulates emotion in music and reminds me why music is the most expressive art form, it would be Frédéric Chopin.
Vinyl or MP3?
This old chestnut again! I perform digitally, but prefer listening to vinyl. Performing using digital makes my life a hell of a lot easier when it comes to organisation. I can form genre, key and bpm playlists, tag and cue my tunes, prepare my sets efficiently and have access to music that is simply not available on vinyl. Unfortunately, a great amount of music nowadays, doesn’t get pressed to vinyl, so you either have to spend a fortune cutting records yourself, or going down the digital route. I like to take a few records along to gigs now and again though, nice to change things up. I’ve never really been an advocate of the whole digital vs. vinyl sound argument though, I think it’s all subjective and I don’t like it when people try to push their views and claim they that they are right. I do however think that vinyl culture is a lot more exiting and personal than digital. The experience of hunting and buying vinyl with the artwork that comes packaged with it is amazing, having a tune pressed to white label and actually being able to feel something that you’ve made is also really special.
Can you name your top 5 albums of all genres?
Tough.. no particular order!
Blue – Joni Mitchell
You Make Me Real – Brandt Brauer Frick
Spaces – Nils Frahm
Burial – Burial
Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin
(Lullabies to Paralyse – Queens of the Stone Age)
How has your music developed since you started out as a 18 year old?
Life is all about learning. I’ve learnt new technical skills sure, but also a lot about myself. Emotion is my main influence and drives my lust to create.
Talk us through the effect of social media and how an online presence has affected your ability to reach new audiences across the globe
Most would agree that it’s important as an artist today to sustain some sort of online social media presence. The ability to network music and keep those interested up-to-date with current projects is great for personal promotional. It’s not the be all and end all though, there still needs to be substance in the actual product advertised. Unfortunately, because there is no body to regulate the internet, there is a quantity over quality crisis today and too much rubbish floating around. The best way to conduct social media activity is to be humble and informative.
Best Gig you’ve played?
I’ve got many favourites, but I always refer back to one I did at some venue called Hollback Underground Ballroom. It was one of my first in Leeds, it was in a rough trading estate, it had four brick walls and a huge soundsystem. It lost its licence not long after the event.
If Simon Cowell offered you a million squid, would you pack it in and become the sixth member of One Direction?
Outside of music, what makes you tick?
I love food, football and a bit of cricket in the summer! Friends, family, animals, clichés…….
Wish you all the best of luck mate with your upcoming dates.
Hijinkx’s bio: A 21 year old musician studying at University of Leeds. His eclectic taste and passion for electronic music is evident by his song selection when performing live and his pallet of production styles. Having now gathered a following and with one release under his belt, Hijinkx is going from strength to strength with forthcoming releases imminent on reputable record labels.
Hijinkx’s Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/hijinkx_uk