Interview: James & Evander
Don’t let the band name James & Evanderfool you; the Oakland, Calif.-based group has neither a James nor an Evander in its makeup. The people behind the moniker are, instead, Adam Myatt and Glenn Jackson, two 24-year-old musicians who met in 2005 and, as they described, “bonded over synthesizers.”
The way in which they initially connected was as students at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts. Both were not only interested in pursuing music as a career; they also possessed a desire to “get away” from where they’d come from, but were reluctant to leave California, instead settling upon the East Bay.
Although as students studying sound engineering, both had access to the recording studios on campus, they found it difficult to get bands to commit to coming in at odd hours of the night. Eventually, the two decided to cut out the middleman and collaborate on making and recording music together, reasoning that although Jackson was more into electronic, hip-hop and techno, and Myatt had a bit more of an indie rock background, their musical tastes still converged in quite a few places.
They began playing together in Jackson’s living room and made what Myatt described as “weird noise jams,” a process which namely involved setting up a laptop in the room and messing around on various instruments.
“It was a silly way to make music,” Myatt said.
Now their setting changes, depending on what their aim is. While they still just get together and see what transpires, there is no set formula to writing songs.
“Sometimes we go to studios and like, jam out a bunch of new shit, or sometimes we just get, like, really stoned and [write that way],” Myatt said. “That’s how we learned and started making music together. It’s just a really natural process.”
Even so, both Jackson and Myatt admitted when given the choice, most of the time they prefer to be in a studio setting, so as to have all the tools and technology they need at their disposal.
Myatt cited a particular day when they booked half a day The Hangar, a studio in Sacramento, and came away with the skeletons of four new songs.
“That was like, a really creative day in the studio,” Myatt said. “Sometimes it’s just like, going somewhere new and like, finding whatever is like, in that space, and like using that. ‘Cause it’s like, we’ve got this stuff here, which is awesome, and we totally make music on this all the time, but it’s just fun to like, manipulate other spaces.”
Two such locations in the East Bay are Shipwreck Studio and Sharkbite Studios, the latter of which Myatt has worked at for the past five years.
Although James & Evander has been a band since 2005, only recently have they begun focusing on the live aspect of it.
This past month alone, the band has amped up the volume of live performances, whether playing their own songs or DJing at a bar or an event.
“We’re pretty down to play anything,” Myatt said. “We’re just like down to play music.”
And even when they’re not writing music as James & Evander or DJing together as JEMS, the two seem have a fair number of band outings to other shows around the Bay Area.
“We’re just like, music nerds,” Jackson said unapologetically.
Feeding into that stereotype is also the fact that neither of the two is much of a “tough guy.” Myatt recalled his boss at Sharkbite, Ryan Massey, as telling the two that they don’t have “a single aggressive bone in their bodies” – and this feeling extends into the music.
And because the music they make is so focused on playing with sound, Myatt and Jackson are looking to evolve that sound; one such change that listeners can expect in the band over the coming months is a foray into writing songs with vocals. Whereas before, the band has only made instrumental music, now they are faced with the anticipation and challenges of not only writing lyrics and incorporating vocals, but figuring out how to write songs that play to their current capabilities and range as singers.
To their name, they have three EPs and three remix albums. The most recent installation under their name, the “Constellating EP,” will be officially released tonight.
The remix albums – a volume of releases entitled “Songs We Wish We Wrote You” – are available for free download, which the two hope will inspire people to not only listen to their music, but to check out songs by others bands featured, many of which are friends of theirs.
“We’re definitely not like, musical geniuses yet,” Jackson said. “We just like, kind of experiment, until like, something, like, eventually something ends up feeling really good.”
James & Evander headline the Uptown tonight in Oakland, Calif. The show begins at 9 p.m. and the cost is $7. Supporting the group will be East Bay artists Somehow at Sea, Otherness and Parentz.