Kaz James: Stereosonic soldier
He’s a dancefloor rebel who’s cracked the mould and was swept up into worldwide fame, with anthems featured across the globe with hits like Breathe and more recently We Hold On. Not bad for a boy from the ‘burbs of Melbourne.
Formerly a part of Bodyrockers and now facing the world on his own, Kaz James is doing big things. He’s blurring the lines between the genres to bring us one seriously big beat, and when it comes to deciding what’s hot right now chances are he’s a part of it. If They Only Knew is his latest venture, with his mates watching his back. Helping him out the likes of Stu Stone, Macy Gray and DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit fame, and that’s just to begin with.
About to embark on the first ever national Stereosonic tour alongside Paul van Dyk, Carl Cox, Booka Shade, Sneaky Sound System and Pnau to name but a few, ITM had a chat to Kaz about what’s going on in his world.
So what’s the story behind the new album? What was involved with its inception? “It took about 16 months,” he told ITM. “I wanted to mess around with genres, I want what I play, my music, to stand out and step away from what everyone else is playing and what else is around. It’s not about dance music so much as it’s about music that people can dance to. It’s combined a bit of everything from hip hop to rock. I wanted it to be unique, something nobody has ever done. I did half in the UK and some here in Australia and LA, and then finished it off in New York.”
Kaz says that working with so many different artists helped shaped the album, and the end result that’s on the record shelves now. “I had some of my favourite artists working on there. Macy, Lethal from Limp Bizkit. Their all from different musical worlds and by sitting down with them I think they all stepped out of their comfort zones a bit and helped create something awesome. Really different. They all brought something different to it. Stu is a great mate of mine and great with lyrics. Working with him is always a laugh. Macy is just like a space cadet! She’s out there and it’s just who she it. Not trying to be someone she isn’t. She’s cool and amazingly talented. Her voice is phenomenal. I’ve done some stuff for her new album too now.”
Having tried his hand at it all – producer, songwriter, DJ and performer – kaz says they all contribute equally to the overall package for him. “Without each, the others are nothing. Other people contribute to my music but all elements are involved. If I didn’t love what I was doing I wouldn’t do it.” So how did he handle the transition from writing when he was part of The Bodyrockers, to what he’s doing now? “Normally I’ll write the music and add the hooks and stuff and give it to whoever is featuring. They can do their own thing. The artists I choose aren’t all because their big names or hot right now, it’s what I can learn from them. The people I worked with on this album helped me become a better producer and solo artist and that’s one benefit of DJing. I can play whatever and see what the crowd is reacting to then try and recreate something similar-same vibes but all sorts of varied elements and lyrics. I can improvise then & there with the stuff.”
With the much anticipated launch of the Stereosonic tour across the country, a new brand of festival in a summer that’s jam packed week after week with beautiful beats, why has James chosen to play at this newbie rather than the more established ones? “Its new and I like that fact that Stereosonic is still ‘underground.’ the artists are too. There’s great acts and it’s gonna be awesome to be on the bill with those artists rather than the mainstream festivals.” So what can we expect? “Your guess is as good as mine!”
So, how is this young gun, raised in Melbourne, handling the limelight and life in the fast lane? “It still spins me out. You have to try and not get caught up in all the crap that goes on. The gossip. People get obsessed about their image and who’s saying what. I just wanna hang out with normal people that aren’t caught up in the hype. For me it’s about the music. If I could do what I do at home I would. But it’s hard.”
With Stereosonic kicking off its first show in Brisbane this weekend, it’ll be over before we know it then our homegrown genius will be off. But where to? “I’m touring the US in February when the record launches there then Europe after that. I just hope they like it & receive it well.” Well Kaz, I’d say it’s safe to say as long as the beats keep coming and crowds keep bopping, you can breathe, you’re doing fine. See you on the dancefloor.
Kaz James’ If They Knew is out now through Sony BMG, catch him playing live on the Stereosonic tour…
Sat Nov 22 – Stereosonic, Brisbane
Sat Nov 29 – Stereosonic, Melbourne
Sat Nov 29 – Stereosonic, Adelaide
Sun Nov 30 – Stereosonic, Perth