In the last few years we’ve managed to acquire quite the list of favorites from around the globe and lets just say you can probably find our next featured artist somewhere towards the top of that list. Better known perhaps by his alter ego we caught up to the Ohioan beat basher to celebrate his latest release, find out about the name change, and figure out what’s next. Check out our Q&A…
For those of us unfamiliar with you and your music, who are you and where are you from?
What’s up! I’m just a kid from NE Ohio. I make beats and enjoy producing music. Been doing it for about 8 years now, I used to go by the producer alias “uh-oh” but have since dropped it in favor of my given name James Halton.
We’ve been big fans of yours ever since we got our hands on your 2010 LP “Flying Fish”. Since then you’ve had several other successful LP’s. What’s the music scene been like for you since that first 2010 release?
It’s been pretty solid from a support standpoint. Flying fish was actually my third release, but all three of my first releases came out relatively quickly. (Rain, The lost Gods, then Flying Fish, all released in 2010.) After releasing those projects I garnered a little following of fans who look out for my music. I can’t complain.
Like so many of us, you’ve had to often put music second to real life. How hard is it to be an artist today?
I feel it’s easier than ever for people to be an artist in the sense of getting their art to people through the internet. It’s a double edged sword however. The problem comes with trying to find time to dedicate to your art, with everyone having instant access to all forms of creative content, a lot of people want it for free and instantly. Which is fine, but then artists have to keep the lights on with more conventional means like a 9 to 5 and put their art on the back burner.
It’s obvious you’ve got a lot of talent and a deep love for what you do. How’d it all start?
Well, when I was in high school I wanted to get into making music. I initially wanted to rap, but as a young dude I didn’t understand the intricacies of mic presence, writing to beats, and basically all aspects of emceeing. Through messing with trying to rap, I also began trying to make beats to rap over. I found it was much more easy for me personally to make beats, they were shitty, but they at least made sense, and it just came more naturally. I also had some solid and constructive feedback from others as far as the production side was concerned. I used the criticism to get better. I owe a lot to people like “Fam nice” in the development of my talent.
What’s the local support like where you’re from?
It’s relatively non existent. I’m in the mid-west, where the scene is mostly influenced by all types of hip hop, trap/southern/drill music. I tend to make more soulful and boom bap type beats and people ain’t really with it around here. That’s why the internet’s been such a blessing for me. I’ve had the chance to work with artists all over the country as well as overseas and I really appreciate it!
Focusing on producing we understand you’ve had your fair share of studio trials and tribulations, what’s going on with you in the studio these days?
Nowadays things are running pretty smoothly. I started out strictly a software head with programs like Fruity Loops and Reason. FL was my main workhorse and is still the main program I use, but now I also have an MPC Renaissance which I use with FL studio. It’s streamlined my workflow and reinvigorated my creativity.
Your 2014 release of “Uninspired” caught our attention for the sheer name alone. We often find that many people don’t seem to realize some of the highs and lows that artist go through, mind shedding some light on the subject?
For sure. I went for a couple years there where I wasn’t making many beats at all. The stresses of real life, bills, work and everything else were taking a toll on me, as well as being bored with my workflow. I was just using FL studio and it all became work rather than fun. Uninspired was a collection of the beats I made from those 2 years that I thought were good enough to be released. Some of which I really liked, but on the whole it was just a down period for my creativity. With getting the MPC and stabilizing my life with a better job, and more free time I’m back where I need to be creatively.
With your last release in June 2015 you announced that you were dropping your long time alias of Uh-oh and now using your “Government name”. Why the change?
Honestly, I just didn’t like how “uh-oh” sounded. It was an alias I used on a message board initially when I was like 14, I thought it was cool/clever when read but whenever I had to say “uh-oh” in real life/speech it just felt corny. I juggled the idea of using other names but I’m too indecisive so I just went with my actual name. The bad part is I did get a pretty decent internet following with that name, through blogs and people sharing my music, and now I worry about people not realizing “James Halton” is the same dude. I’m basically having to start over but in the end as long as I put the work in it shouldn’t matter.
With the New Year quickly approaching what can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m working on another tape at the moment, halfway finished! I’m looking at a November release most likely. With another 15-18 more beats released for free like usual. The plan is to be much more consistent and try and release as much music as possible.
What’s the best way for our fans to connect with you and your music?