Giovanni James, the multi-talented performer, released his debut EP, “Whutcha Want,” today. I talked to Giovanni about his history, his influences and his upbeat music.
On his backstory:
I kind of been on the street since I was 13, I had a few difficulties coming up, but I found music and art early, and those things sustained me. I think I started out more as a dancer than a musician. And then through dancing I found music and wanted to take it the next level. I did that as long as I could and then I really wanted to grow so I started to do music. I couldn’t find anyone to work with as a musician that I really liked sound wise, so I just started and figured out how to start producing and making music and experimenting with music. I essentially started writing music and rapping at first. I had a singing voice but I didn’t have any training or anything like that, so I wasn’t really confident in that in the beginning, so I started rapping and through the rapping I got my confidence and then started singing.
On his upbeat music:
I think for me I never wanted to make excuses for myself. I didn’t want to rely on being a sad sack or use certain things that were happening in my life for me to lean on for anything. You don’t want to celebrate the darkness. You want to imagine what you want. What I’m learning is what you really want you write through your actions. You will it. I feel like with music you hear things, you have ideas and then you manifest it. I wasn’t going to be the one sitting around talking about the bad stuff. It’s upbeat, yes, because who wants to sit down and be depressed? But there is music that I’m doing that is honest and vulnerable, because I feel like that’s more real. Some days you wake up optimistic and some days you are tired. As an artist I think it’s my job to report the truth. Some days you wake up and you’re optimistic and some days you are not.
On his influences:
Lyrically I have always been attracted to cleverness, to wordplay, to different ways of saying something. I like metaphors. I like to paint a picture. It’s like a fantasy mind where you can escape through the words you paint. And then sometimes you find ways to simplify certain ideas because sometimes complicated stuff has a really hard time reaching people. So for me I’m always trying to balance that. It’s like walking a tightrope: trying to say things that are meaningful but somehow simple. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do. Initially I’m kind of infatuated by a different way of saying something that has been said a million times, because it all has been said before.
You can buy “Whutcha Want” on iTunes here and stream it below.