I am using my position as guest editor for August 2018’s The Sampler blog to investigate how intersectionality informs the identities and processes of our sound and music practices. My questions aim to center the idea of intersectional personhood and creative output.
You will find links relating to the content of this interview at the bottom of this page.
You will also find a helpful glossary of terms relevant to this interview in a digital publication entitled ‘Women and Non-Binary Identities’ created by the educational platform Shades of Noir which is linked to at the bottom of this page.
Loraine James is an avant-garde electronic artist/producer crafting organic textures through inorganic means. Having released her debut album ‘Detail’ in 2017, Loraine was a recent recipient of the PRS Oram Award and has gone on to play at Birthdays, Rye Wax and Splice Festival at Rich Mix London.
For accompanying interview audio see here
In one sentence tell me who you are
My name is Loraine James. I am an electronic music producer and keyboard player.
How would you describe the sound and music you make?
It can be ambient and glitchy, but I just say ‘electronic’ to keep it vague. I love using very ambient synths with manic percussion for contradiction. Sometimes labelling yourself in one genre just boxes you in. It’s hard because it just depends what mood I’m in.
How does your music express (or not express) your identity?
I think my earlier stuff didn’t really express my [identity]. A lot of electronic music is made by white men and I can’t avoid that but I’ve started to broaden what I listen to. I’m listening to queer rap like Cakes Da Killa and Karnage Kills. Every time Karnage puts out a new song I’m proper listing to it and I’m inspired. I’m definitely influenced by more electronic queer artists in my music now than I used to be.
If you had to describe your identity what would you would say?
I am queer black woman.
You mention Karnage Kills and Cakes da Killa, they’re both Black and queer…
They are not afraid and they don’t care if you like it or not.
And that inspires you?
Very much so.
In what way?
I’m not the most confident person in the world but they definitely make me feel less afraid of being like ‘alright I’m gay, whatever’. [They] make me feel more confident in myself.
How does your identity inform (or not) your creative process? Feel free to comment on the kinds of software / instruments / approaches / research you use.
I started when I was six years old. [Then] in secondary school I did music GCSE but I didn’t enjoy it cause there was a lot of classical stuff. I think the best thing I learnt about was Jeff Buckley, but that was it. I’m glad I left school. College then introduced me to music production. If I had stayed on at secondary school I wouldn’t have learnt what I do today. In college we started learning about Ableton and launchpads and our tutor brought in his little launchpad so I bought one. I turned to Ableton because of the Novation Launchpad and at first I was struggling to produce on it [because] Logic was more fluid to me at the time. Having a launchpad then made me start doing live [performances] and gigs, etc. Ableton is just everything in one for me. For the past two months I’ve not been using my keyboard because you can play notes on the launchpad and record, quantize, control volume and panning. I can do everything on this one device without having to click on my Mac. When people see [me performing with the Launchpad] they’re very engaged like ‘ooooh colours!’ It definitely makes [my performance] more vibrant. It keeps me interested as well. Unfortunately, when I play I’m concentrating so hard on my next move I don’t have a chance to enjoy what I do sometimes.
I don’t know if that necessarily ties in with my identity.
Is there a process that you have observed yourself over time to follow and if so why?
It changes every time. Sometimes [I’ll start with] the drums and sometimes the synth. A lot of the time I’ll leave the bass till last because I find it hard and a lot of the time I don’t include a bass. Sometimes I’ll just open up a drum rack [and with] samples I’ve recorded from outside I’ll just dump [them] in and see if I can create a drum pattern. A lot of my music is instrumental so even when I listen back to it [I] sometimes don’t remember how I was feeling when I created it because the song will change direction because my mood has changed.
Why do you it [make music]?
I love people listening to my stuff and being surprised. [Making music] makes me feel calm and relaxed. For me the best thing in the world is to make music and put all my emotions into a song.
I am compiling a ten-track playlist and would love to one artist / sound practitioner / band you would recommend.
Loraine’s August Activity
Loraine will be performing at SET Dalston, London on August 18.
The following are mentioned in this interview:
Loraine James’ website
Loraine’s performance video
Loraine receives PRS Oram Award
Loraine’s upcoming performance on August 18
Cakes Da Killa
Interview produced, transcribed and edited by Rebekah Ubuntu with editorial support from Jaime Peschiera