QA: JAMES BANGURA

1 – Who are you?

I’m Timothy Smith-Bangura, an electronic music producer that goes by the alias “James Bangura” which happens to be part of my actual name.

2 – When do you often create/produce?

I find myself writing the most when I’m alone at home. 

3 – When?

Most of it happens when I have a feeling. Music is very emotional for me.

4 – Why do you play music?

Music is very therapeutic for me. I grew up in a very musical family so I was always around it growing up.

5 – When did you start making music?

I actually started when I was in the military. I lived in California for awhile and when I was there I was heavily involved in the local scene between 2006-2009. It was way for me to reconnect with the community since I was separated from it for so long after.

6 – What Track defines you the most?

This is hard but if I were to give a track, the first one that comes to mind is Dauwd’s “Theory of Colours” off his 2017 album. I really love progressive chords work in songs and it holds a level of tension throughout the entire track.

7 – How would you describe your music?

It really depends, it can go from energetic to spacey.

8 – Any track of the Moment?

I’d say Ashtre Jenkins’ “Status126” off his Zone of Enders tape. Last year I lost my mom and this was a track I found myself going back to because it brought me comfort. It’s very melancholic and also holds a lot of tension. The principle of tension is a reoccurring theme for me honestly. I gravitate to the characteristic often.

9 – What Influences your work?

The music my friends put out really influences my music heavily. My environment and how I’m feeling also dictates how my sound has developed.

10 – What’s your academic background?

I never finished college but I’m currently back in for marketing. I am very much an auto diadact. Everything I’ve learned in regards to music production was learned through youtube and friends who make music as well.

11 – Favorite designer?

I don’t have a favorite designer but I’m a big fan of Japanese minimalism and American workwear. So anything from United Arrows, Carhartt, Stan Ray I love. I have a lot of older military pieces that I always go back to because they feel timeless.

12 – Favorite book?

Favorite book would have to be the “Black Rage” by William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs. Two Black Psychologists who examine the psyche of the black experience during the seventies. I think what they discovered from their studies still hold weight today because not much has changed. Black people are still dealing with the generational traumas of decades of oppression and persecution.

13 – Favorite Classic Movie?

I grew up watching a lot of martial arts films so I’d have to say Rebellious Reign. I’m not even sure you can find it anymore but it was a classic for me, haha.

14 – Favorite music label?

I don’t really have a favorite music label, I really buy what I like and more often than not, it’s the music my friends make.

15 – Dream collaboration?

It’d be dope to sit down and write a track with Bambounou. His 50 Weapons releases were crucial and what him and Valentino Mora did with ClekClekBoom  and Young Gunz was dope.

16 – Are you analog or digital?

I was strictly digital for a long time. Now I have a few analog pieces I use these days. 

17 – Which software/tools/instruments do you use play?

I started off on reason and logic but all my friends I met early on all used Ableton. I hated having to stem out tracks to collab so I said, screw it, I’ll use Ableton. So I’ve been using that ever since. I played piano for 15 years but stopped which I regret. The crazy thing about that was I first did everything by ear which is a very unusual skill. I was in marching band as well.

18 – Describe your creative process.

It’s a combination of impulsive and strategic. Some songs can come quite quickly and others I really have to determine which direction I want to go with it.

19 – When are you the most prolific?

When I’m at home writing. I can get in my own head and really let my ideas flow.

20 – Any favorite record stores?

Technique Records and Jazzysport in Tokyo have been my favorite record store experiences. Joint Custody and HR records in DC are amazing spots too. They were curated very well and the level of detail they put into the spaces was next level. A record store experience is very personal, you have some stores which are unorganized and the nothing flows. Virtual wise, Bandcamp is the GOAT. The fact that artists get to connect with fans and the artists get their money without the hassle of dealing with an external entity is dope.

21 – What’s your philosophy?

Stay the course. Especially if you’re passionate about what you do. You’ll have people who can be negative about a venture that might seem ambitious but those type of people lack vision. If you know you’re path, stick to it.

22 – Do you have a healthy lifestyle?

For the most part. I drink a lot of water and try to keep the amount of meat in my diet down to a bare minimum. Multivitamins and sleep is crucial too.

23 – How do you manage your time effectively?

A whiteboard, haha. If you don’t have one I’d get one because seeing your schedule helps a lot.

24 – Secret Skills?

I used to be heavy in the rave scene when I was a teen and I learned how to swing Fire Poi,haha. I could probably still do it but I haven’t done it in years. I started off as break dancer and dabbled in choreography for long time too.

25 – Any future plans?

Really just to focus on building my label PercussionFunctions. It’s a constant learning process. A true labor of love situation. I have so many talented friends and I just want to put out as much of their music as possible.

26 – What’s your life motto?

Stay the course, one day at a time, and one foot in front of the other.

JB’SOUNDCLOUD, BANDCAMP, INSTAGRAM, TWITTER