Friday, November 30, 2012

Meet James Conner, Musician

James Conner has been writing, recording and performing music in the Bay Area for nine years. Originally from New Jersey, James moved to San Francisco in 2003 and released James Conner: For The Industry EP (iTunes, CD Baby). Featuring fast electronic music and spoken-word vocals, the first EP and the subsequent full-length record, James Conner: A Year In The Light Of My Life (2007) mixed elements of Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails, and David Bowie into a dark fusion of brooding angst. Now in 2012, James has returned with his second full-length record. San Francisco (Good-night In Dreamland) (iTunes, CD Baby) delivers a cohesive blend of indie rock, 1990s alternative rock, and elements of jazz. To capture the songs on San Francisco, James recorded with Nic Pope for a year at Different Fur Studios in the Mission. James has enlisted Nathan Bennet (on guitar) and Alex Aguallo (on drums) to round out a powerful trio to bring San Francisco to the stage.

Find San Francisco on Amazon as well as iTunes, and sample James' music on ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and YouTube.

1. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it before?

As a cross between Dinosaur Jr. and U2. People also compare my music to The Strokes, Interpol, and The Libertines.

2. What's your process for writing music: do you generally start with a riff, an image, a lyric...?

I usually start with the lyrics/vocals and work backwards. For me, the lyrics/vocals determine everything about a song--i.e. the tempo, the mood, and the type of song it's going to be. Since I'm the singer/lyricist and also the songwriter, everything supports the vocal.

3. How is San Francisco (Good-night In Dreamland) similar to your first album, and how is it different?

My first record, James Conner: For the Industry EP (CDBaby, iTunes) was fast, electronic music with spoken-word vocals. On San Francisco there are three tracks that are of the style of the first record. That was a deliberate attempt on my part to have a link with the style from my first record. But with San Francisco I wanted to make a "rock" record, so the majority of the songs are rock songs in the style of "indie rock" or "alternative rock." Also, on San Francisco I made more of attempt to sing although my vocals on the record aren't all-out singing.

4. How does living in San Francisco influence your work?

All of the songs on San Francisco were written since I've been living in San Francisco, and all the songs are about topics that I've been dealing with since I've been in San Francisco. I grew up in a small town in Southern New Jersey and my parents are conservative Republicans, so casual sex and infidelity were basically hidden/non-existent while I was growing up. I moved to San Francisco when I was twenty-three, and I had very little dating experience when I first arrived. It took a long time for me to adjust to the morality of San Francisco and California in general. In San Francisco, casual sex and infidelity in relationships is basically the norm. When I first moved to San Francisco, I would ask a girl out, and I would also ask if she had a boyfriend, and I would literally get a blank stare--as if the question itself was irrelevant. On the East Coast and especially in the small town I grew up in, if you asked a girl out who had a boyfriend, you would be facing a fist-fight. It's much different in San Francisco. So all the songs on San Francisco deal with sex, dating, and infidelity.

5. What online resources do you find most important in connecting listeners with your music, and what offline resources are most crucial to you?

Facebook is pretty crucial these days when you're connecting with fans and building a community for your music. It also allows you to have a more personal connection with your fans which is invaluable. Offline resources have almost entirely disappeared these days. I guess they would include local newspapers, local businesses, and word of mouth. They're all important when you're trying to build a local fan base, but they're getting more sparse every day.

Thanks, James!

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