Shining Some Light on Chicago’s Trevor James [Interview]
By: Dennis M. Kelly
Dennis: Good day Trevor, how are you today?
Trevor: I’m doing well – thank you for asking! I hope all is well with you!
Dennis: Thanks! Yep, all good here! Thank you very much for taking the time to answer some questions for me today! Why don’t we start at the beginning for you, when did music first make its impact on you?
Trevor: Music had really made impact around in 2012 April 13th. This was when Skrillex Performed in Miami at the Ultra Music Festival – where he did back-to-back sets. While I was watching this live, the energy and actual concept of being a DJ really pulled me in. When before this time, I was more into sports (Wrestling), that event really captivated me toward being a producer/artist. So, I took all the money I had at the time and bought my original mixer while I already was equipped with a laptop and FL downloaded on it. The rest is history.
Dennis: What were some of your first influences?
Trevor: Some of my influences come from Martin Garrix, Skrillex, ASAP Rocky, Queen, and Frank Sinatra!
Dennis: How was school for you growing up?
Trevor: School for me growing up always had me feeling as an oddball/outlier, due to the fact of being the outlier compared to my peers from a farm town – I didn’t want the traditional High School to College to Job lifestyle, I wanted more out of my life. Hence, why I am on this venture now to really get my music career going!
Dennis: Do you have any brothers or sisters also interested or involved in music?
Trevor: Funny you ask – My great uncle was a drummer, and he gave me my first drum pad which really inspired me to then pick up my first instrument, drums at around the age of 8!
Dennis: Very cool, I was given a drum from my older brother when I was young and ended up drumming in a band for a short time before going on to create Chicago Music Guide. Before you started to DJ at 15, were you involved with anything musical in school?
Trevor: Other than being forced for classes at my high school, I was jamming on my drums outside of those classes.
Dennis: How long did it take for you to start building a following from your early DJ sets?
Trevor: After doing a few sets in a few venues around Chicago – that is when I started to get some attention. However, to be honest, the following never really mattered to me until I started to take my career to the next level.
Dennis: Did you have any difficulties in booking yourself at that young age?
Trevor: Oh Hell Yeah, I had to legit be escorted in and out immediately out of the club as soon as my set was up by my parents because of how young I was. Which was completely understandable, but definitely challenging for sure.
Dennis: While it was frustrating, I’m sure, at least it helped to give you an edge and set you up for where you are now, right? How supportive were your parents in becoming a DJ?
Trevor: Thankfully, they have always been supportive, but the music that I was/am creating is not really their style.
Dennis: Were there any challenges that you struggled with in gaining momentum in your new music career?
Trevor: Absolutely, since I started my career in the EDM/House Music during the time of being a growing genre, there was not much promo being done at the time. Thankfully the EDM Scene had SoundCloud to work off – helped gain some traction toward my music. Now, we have more of a strategic plan to get my music out to my current and newer fans!
Dennis: Thank God for Soundcloud, it has actually helped launch many artist’s careers, but yes, at least now there are a ton of avenues that artists can take their careers to gain even more notoriety. So, things changed for you upon attending college, what were some of the things that helped influence you at Columbia and SAE?
Trevor: Well, from Columbia, that experience taught me the fact of what I do now is a job, I went there to learn further the actual ins and outs were to audio engineering, which inspired my work on Indie movie production, sound/engineering, consulting, etc. SAE was all hands on and technical which allowed me to express my skills and creativity. Going to SAE also allowed me to build better connections, build my skills as a producer within a live studio, and overall boost my morale on my venture to being a producer/artist – Shout out SAE & Columbia!
Dennis: How did movie production come into the mix for you?
Trevor: SAE had a class around production and movie sound production. Which had inspired me to get creative with putting music in alignment with various Indie and different types of films.
Dennis: Nice! What kind of work did you do and who were you working with for rap production?
Trevor: This more ties back to my days at Columbia – I had met Shad, a rapper, through a mutual friend where we started building a relationship and making music. However, as soon as I went to SAE, I started to collab and build relationships with more artists within the rap genre that you’ll notice on my new EP ‘I Make Music Vol.2’
Dennis: Tell me more about your freelance work at the studios that you’ve done.
Trevor: I helped at Fort Knox, did a couple sessions as a consultant, at the same time, I started to utilize my producing time at the studios at SAE where I would get time with various artists. I would also help one of my professors on a project indie film through SAE. I also worked as a freelance producer in South Loop with an Engineer ‘The Law’.
Dennis: How have you been helping other musicians? You KNOW we love to see that, there can never be too much support for aspiring artists, right?
Trevor: Every time I throw a show – I have artists come out and perform their art to its entirety. We did a show awhile back under a coffee shop (which we paid for through our own funds and ticket sales) where we hosted an event/show with any artist that wanted to come and perform. This event was also hosted as a cllctd event, which is our teams brand!
Dennis: Very generous of you! The music community needs more artists like yourself helping to strengthen and support one another. You recently released “I Make Music Vol.2”, tell me about that, please.
Trevor: “I Make Music Vol.2” is a collection of artist that I personally work with that carry various differences of hip/hop/rap, some pop, some EDM/House which expresses the deeper meaning of the fact that we make music. We are as unique as individuals, but collected as one. It is our way of self-expression on who we are as a group – cllctd. Ultimately, this was a project of manifestation of all ourselves as individuals and becoming cllctd as one.
Dennis: How have sales been for it so far?
Trevor: Over 20k in streams so far, this is the first EP/Album that we are running promo and true marketing. In tandem to this, there is merch that has recently dropped on https://collectedcommunity.com/ and a music video for the first track on the EP ‘Diamonds In Her Eyes’. Expect more in the incoming weeks.
Dennis: How long did it take to produce it?
Trevor: In total, 7 Months – Producing and Engineering.
Dennis: Did COVID-19 impact the release in any way or hinder you from anything else?
Trevor: Big time – it paused up a lot of our shows and interviews that we had lined up. Thankfully, we are making do with what we have currently and building more as we navigate through these tough times.
Dennis: Aside from your release, what else have you been working on during this pandemic?
Trevor: Music videos, our brand Cllctd, and making more and more connections.
Dennis: Once COVID-19 is at least under control, what do you plan on doing next?
Trevor: We have some plans around booking shows, getting back into an actual studio, and looking for someone within PR to help us advance our exposure!
Dennis: Awesome! Sounds good! Thank you very much for taking the time with me today! I wish you all the best!
Trevor: Thank you for the opportunity!
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