A Q&A with Aspiring Music Producer James Bialik

(Courtesy: James Bialik)

(Courtesy: James Bialik)

The music business is one of those industries that is necessarily exclusionary — only those individuals with real potential rise up out of the fray.

All those artists who end up getting recognized and reaching mass audiences must start somewhere though, and now, with the debut of his experimental mixtape "WINGS", James Bialik has thrown his hat into the ring.

Released February 9 on SoundCloud, "WINGS" comprises 19 tracks, the majority of which put off a laid-back, chill sort of vibe.

Read on to see what Mr. Bialik had to say about his initial foray into music production:

When did you start working on the mix that eventually became "WINGS"?

JB: "I started working on this stuff around July (of 2016) ... on my phone with Fruity Loops Mobile. It's a production system; it costs like $20, plus extra for all the plug-ins you can get. So I basically started this whole thing for my project 'WINGS' about the end of July, maybe mid-July.

"I kind of experimented with a lot of stuff, kind of made stuff similar to what I like to listen to. I listen to a lot of different artists, like this band called The Internet.

"I also listen to ThunderCat; used to listen to Odd Future when they were still around — still listen to the artists that were in that group, like Tyler, The Creator and all those people. And what kind of influenced me was those guys actually producing their own stuff." 

Where does the title "WINGS" come from? How did you go about naming the different tracks?

JB: "I honestly just thought that would be a cool name to give it because other people that do this kind of stuff that I'm trying to do, they just want to get their ideas up there, like 'find your wings.'

"There's a song by Tyler, The Creator called 'Find Your Wings,' and that kind of inspired me to do that as well.

"As for the songs, some of them were just drafts that I wanted to put out, because it was just an experimental project. Some of the full tracks I actually gave names to because the sound reminded me of something. My one track, 'Liftoff,' sounds like ... maybe a space video game or something like that."

Are the songs arranged in any specific order? Was there a certain strategy there?

JB: "I kind of made the order... like the first track is the first one I made, and then the last track is the last one I worked on. So they're kind of in an order showing how I was able to progress with this (Fruity Loops) program.

"I made it more complex as I went, and that's why I encourage a lot of people I talk to ... to listen to the end tracks more, because those are actually, I think personally, my best ones. The beginning ones are just kind of random, but as it goes to the end, they start to add up."

How long does it take to put one of these tracks together, in your experience?

JB: "Some of the tracks I would make in maybe an hour or two, and then eventually I would have to edit them and make them longer, stuff like that. I also would go back and listen to them again and make some changes. Some of the stuff I made (earlier on) I wasn't happy with.

"I think it's just like with art, you can't... you have to keep fixing it. You're like never happy with the final outcome. I want to make it the best possible, but I keep feeling like I can't make it better. But that's why I keep trying."

Which of the tracks is your favorite?

JB: "I would have to say 'Just Dance, K?' because that was the one I worked on the most. I always wanted to make something like that. That track ... I was inspired by an artist I listen to called Kaytranada. He does a lot of remixes like that. He's a DJ and I think his stuff's awesome.

"Another one of my favorite tracks is the actual track 'WINGS.' That one I worked pretty hard on too ... probably for a total of a few months, a few hours a day. I worked a while on that track. There were probably at least four different versions of it."

Why make music? Why produce?

JB: "It's just something I've always thought of wanting to do. I always thought of eventually producing music, but I didn't know how. I ended up taking a college course called 'Intro to Music Tech' a couple years back, like early 2015, and actually really enjoyed doing it, found out how easy it was. The hard thing is actually getting your ideas (to translate) into the songs and actually making them sound good.

"I do this for fun, but if I could really make what I do bigger, expand out, that'd be awesome. But for right now, I'm just doing it because I love it and it's fun."

Any idea what you might work on next?

JB: "I kind of want to do a summer mix, just a bunch of tracks that go together. I want do to like an hour and a half mix of a bunch of songs, a mix between slow, chill stuff — like ThunderCat and The Internet — and then some more upbeat stuff like Travis Scott and Migos."