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James Pants - The Right Cut

Author: Cyclone
Monday, 13 October 2008

Few would choose a pet name from their wife to adopt as their creative moniker, but that’s exactly what James Singleton, AKA James Pants, has done. 3D’s Cyclone chats with the RNB/new wave artist.

James Pants, AKA James Singleton, is hoping to join those mavericks Cee-Lo Green, Jamie Lidell and Chromeo in the hearts and minds of leftfield music devotees. His debut, Welcome, on the prestigious Stones Throw has the hallmarks of a cult LP. The newcomer reinvents ’80s RNB, disco, electro, hip hop and new wave for contemporary ears.

However, the self-effacing Singleton may need to develop some streetwise braggadocio going by the irreverent bio on his MySpace that depicts him as an accidental star.

“Yeah, my wife gets on me about being too self-deprecating, but I always get nervous because I think, ‘Oh, man, I just make music’,” he laughs. “I don’t know what to say – ’cause people always say, ‘Tell us about your music.’ It’s just hard for me to talk about it as well as others, but I’m trying to get better, so it’s a work in progress. I’m trying to take lessons from Kanye or something!”

It’s an interesting confession from a man who had planned on becoming a journalist.

Today James is based in the removed Spokane, Washington, where, he notes, Johnny Depp’s Benny & Joon was filmed. Growing up, Singleton listened to ’60s pop – The Mamas And The Papas, The Monkees, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin – and it was this music he initially DJed. He later discovered house, hip hop and electro while record-shopping. In 2008, Singleton spins across the board, his sets encompassing psy-rock, reggae, hip hop, disco and old house.

Out celebrating a high school prom in his then home of Texas, Singleton met Peanut Butter Wolf. The aspiring DJ wangled an internship at Stones Throw, where he himself is now the new progeny. Stones Throw is equated with alt-hip hop, but in recent years the label has launched the soul Dudley Perkins. Yet the closest thing to Singleton’s dance-funk on Stones Throw is Madlib’s side-project Quasimoto.

Singleton admits that straight-up hip hoppers won’t necessarily dig Welcome, but he feels at ease.

“PBW has always been a big influence on me,” he says. “He runs a hip hop label, but he really is more into other styles. I think that’s always one of the problems with putting out non-hip hop stuff on Stones Throw. You got a group of people who only wanna hear ‘keep it real’ stuff, and then you’ve got people who don’t mind more adventurous stuff. But I don’t know how I got on that label. It’s great, though!”

Welcome showcases Singleton’s musicianship. He plays all the instruments. As it happens, his primary goal was to release a 45 on Stones Throw, but PBW pushed for an album. Singleton, in a state of “amateur excitement”, submitted 100 tracks, allowing his label boss to choose whatever would ensure a “cool” LP.

James Pants is winning fans. Busy P is a convert and Singleton has DJed on tour for Jamie Lidell, while here in Australia his single We’re Through was picked up by triple j.

Singleton has assembled a band and, with PBW just back Down Under, he, too, hopes to tour. “There has been some talk,” he hints.

WHO: James Pants
WHAT: Welcome through Stones Throw / Creative Vibes
WHEN: Out now
MORE: cvibes.com / myspace.com/jamespants

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