James Alynes’s “a song a day” project garnered interest from the Guinness Record Association, radio stations, and numerous reputable DJs and musicians in countries like Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, and others. Pistes (Toi et Moi), which he wrote for his challenge of releasing a song every day for a year (371 songs), is widely regarded as Variety/Folk with Pop sounds while still existing in a Rap universe. Though there are numerous songs about love, this one, which is nostalgic in nature, celebrates the end of love. In a mature manner, not a pessimistic manner, like two people who discover years later that they fell in love too quickly. Check out Pistes (Toi et Moi) and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
JAMES ALYNES: Hi. Glad to be doing this with you . I’ve travelled a lot and spent most of my time in Montreal and grew up there.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
JAMES ALYNES: Team self-taught, definetely. I’d like to have some formal training at some point. Maybe.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘JAMES ALYNES’?
JAMES ALYNES: Wow. They’re too many. I would have to name a few dozens of them…. A lot of French Variety from the 70’s and 80’s. A lot of underground musicians too. Other than that, I tend to be more inspired by albums rather than artists specifically, as artists will often change styles and not always succeed in everything they try.
James Alynes is just a name, at first it didn’t mean anything, now it kind of became an identity of itself, since I’ve started actively using it as my name, even in real life.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
JAMES ALYNES: People resonate with my raw voice and instrumental choices, or so I’ve been told. Frankly, I used to have no idea what I was doing two years ago, musically. I just kept trying. Now I’m here with you haha. I like to say I’m experimental, but I’m not Nicolas Jaar or Andy Stott yet. Give me time.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
The latter. I’m interested in music as pure expression. It’s a language. Now, that language can and will be used by other people’s interpretations, expectations, projections etc. Everything is politically inclined if you look at it with the right (or wrong) lense. While a musician isn’t inherently a parent, I feel like you have a responsability. Not to sugarcoat or change your words, but to find the right balance in that expression. That’s part of the art. Do what you want, but do it the right way.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
Are we talking financially? Just kidding. I’d say that it did and does give me back a lot. And of course I’m expecting more. I’ll put so much more out there, so I expect that much satisfaction at least. When something stops being satisfying, either change it (if you can) or change your approach. If that doesn’t work, that’s when you have to stop, for as long as it’ll take to recharge, if ever. Fortunately I’m not remotely close to stopping.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
You know, there’s something I find really interesting today.
In today’s music, more and more people use type beats (instrumentals modeled and named after a specific artist, song, album or genre).
With the rising popularity of type beats in hip-hop (when I make hip-hop), you only have to find the right combination of words and search. There’s probably some producer out there thinking just like you, but on the producing side.
It’s also worth nothing that, technically, when using a type beat, which I’ve done a lot, you are by default behind a genre or a trend, since it had to already exist in order for you or the producer to make it.
The real artistic challenge here (aside from finding the right one, which is an art in and of itself), is create something new out of something ‘old’.
How do you make something for the future based on sounds from the past? Now that’s the kind of challenge I like.
As for structure, I’m always writting and recording myself, even (mostly) in public places. So sometimes the concept of a story comes first, sometimes it’s a melody stuck in my head, sometime it’s after hearing a good instrumental, a good album etc. I do collaborate with other artists. We started this music collective, Continental Records with other artists, some of them really young. They all have their own musical world, it’s really fun.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
JAMES ALYNES: Short answer to compensate for the long one : Feeling that most people won’t like it. As it’s fairly experimental, most people I think that most people won’t like my work. I’m learning to accept it.
The good side is, when people resonate with it, they resonate very deeply. Or so I’ve been told.
Also it’s a highly competitive industry. You have to be aware that it takes a lot of ressources to be recognized for your work in music, even if it’s cheaper than it used to be. That can be difficult and frustrating to accept too.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
JAMES ALYNES: Maybe it’s not supposed to be a good thing but I made people cry and I’m kind of proud of it haha. For the moment I’m mostly satisfied. I’m in touch with a lot of musicians, I have a lot of project going on…
Well, I did make an album of more than 360 songs, titled ‘Que Ma Joie Demeure!’, that will be released in late October. Yep, that’s a lot! It’s actually 371 songs. I made a song a day every day for a year, January 1st (2020) to January 1st (2021).
Now I’m working on the 2nd and 3rd albums. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really exciting. I’m doing what I want…It’s a reward in and of itself!
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