Having spent years meticulously honing his quixotic brand of techno as both a DJ and producer while releasing tracks on Richie Hawtin’s Minus Records and Dubfire’s Sci+Tec, emerging Windsor, Ontario-based technocrat Justin James is spreading his artistic wings by launching his own label, refused. In advance of the imprint’s debut release, James’ Not the Curator EP, and upcoming set at Detroit’s annual Movement Electronic Music Festival, James mixed the latest Big Shot Guest Mix.
Featuring tracks from his new EP and an array of cuts from Monkey Coops, Murk & Frank Oba Lords, Alex Under and Florian Frings, the 13-track session illustrates the variety of musical styles that inform his view of techno. “This mix is a glimpse of what you would see from a night of me at one of my shows,” James tells us in the interview below. “I hope it showcases my diverse interests and encapsulates the sheer joy I have sharing music with people across the globe.”
Justin James’ Not The Curator EP is released May 20 on refused. Catch him on May 17 at the WE.ARE.refused. label launch at Red in Windsor, Canada and the Silent Disco Stage at Movement Detroit on May 24.
Congrats on the launch of your label. What inspired you to start it? What’s behind the name?
Justin James: Thanks so much. I am super excited for the launch of refused. Opening a label, I believe, was important for me to have more say in this special culture. Too often we as artists, rely too much on the opening and closing of doors of others to be able to contribute to the culture we love. Especially when we get closer to the higher organisms of the food chain. refused. is my opportunity to not only showcase some of my own works, but also to share music of great friends of mine and as well as amazing young artists whose music I admire. The hope is with this fusion of artists and music, we’ll cultivate our own family which can positively influence underground dance music.
You’ve released tracks on Minus and other labels. How did these experiences inform how you approached launching your imprint?
One of my dreams that came true is the opportunity to release music on Minus and work closely with Richie Hawtin and his fabulous team. Sci+Tec, Dubfire’s label, is also a special imprint to work with. Both of these labels have been a huge influence for me in developing refused. Their professionalism, foresight, dedication to the culture and commitment to the development of new artists are all things that I will carry with me in the growth of my imprint.
Tell us a little about the label’s first release. What’s in the pipeline in terms of other releases? Are you planning releases from other artists?
refused.’s first release is a four-track EP by myself. It’s an EP is entitled Not The Curator. I’d say it’s a diverse collection along the spectrum of the techno genre. I’ll allow the listeners to categorize them any more than that. The tracks, “Not the Curator,” “Inquire Within” and “Absolutely Necessary” have gained huge support from Richie and were a staple for the whole Enter season in Ibiza with weekly rotation in his sets. “Who’s Your Friend,” on the other hand, is a little more trippy and stripped down.
You’re playing Movement this month in Detroit, the birthplace of techno. What does this particular gig mean to you? How are you preparing for it?
Playing Movement in Detroit will be another dream come true for me. This is a festival that I have frequented since its inception and it has quite literally changed and shaped my life. It’s such an amazing weekend to attend. Attending it as an artist will most certainly be a surreal experience. I’m preparing for it by selecting a two-hour set that will be a great representation of me and what I am about. It will highlight not only the music that I am making and supporting but also an homage to the synergistic relationship in house and techno between my city of Windsor and Detroit.
Please describe what influenced your Big Shot Guest Mix.
This mix is a glimpse of what you would see from a night of me at one of my shows. I hope it showcases my diverse interests and encapsulates the sheer joy I have sharing music with people across the globe. I hope you and your readers will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed recording it and sharing it.
Big Shot Guest Mix: Justin James
1. Justin James – “In My Mind” (Vox Tool) (Unreleased)
2. Monkey Coops – “Seeing Sounds”(Spartacus)
3. Murk & Frank Oba Lords – “Dark Beat” (Saso Recyd) (Murk Records)
4. Shaded – “Thumppp” (Sci+Tec)
5. Chris Tietjen – “Black Leaf” (Moan)
6. Alberto Ruiz & Hugo Blanco – “Redrum” (Night Light Records)
7. Justin James – “Inquire Within” (refused.)
8. Justin James – “Absolutely Necessary” (refused.)
9. Alex Under – “Inquire Within” (Trapez)
10. Timmo – “Metropolis” (Drumcode)
11. Florian Frings – “Escape” (Minus)
12. Whyt Noyz – “Hemp Seed” (Tronic)
13. Justin James – “Who’s Your Friend” (refused.)