Giant Step: How would you say Giant Step most influenced your music and/or career?
Jose James: Wow. It’s been so great, thank you guys. The first show was at the Hiro Ballroom in NYC opening for the amazing Alice Russell. Then we started the Brownswood Sessions at Nublu with DJ Moni and Taylor McFerrin. Beautiful times! Giant Step really paved the way for what I do, connecting hip-hop, soul, jazz and DJ culture. The London connection, Gilles Peterson, all that. It’s a global movement to present quality music.
GS: We’ve been with you from the start and it’s been a pleasure to see you progress; how would you say No Beginning No End Jose has evolved from The Dreamer Jose?
JJ: Well, I’m more well traveled. That influences you tremendously. When I made The Dreamer I was still in school and had only been to a couple places outside the US – now I’ve toured in 40 countries and counting. I’m actually in Mexico right now. You meet people and see how your music is loved worldwide and that’s a powerful thing. Now I have worldwide family and a great relationship with my fans. It’s beautiful. Musically I’m more comfortable expressing all the worlds I love – soul, R&B, jazz, rock, blues, gospel, hip-hop – and you can hear that on the new album, and in the collaborations – Robert Glasper, Pino Palladino, Emily King, Hindi Zahra.
GS: And where do you see yourself going next? Any challenges/goals you’re keen on tackling?
JJ: I’d like to reconnect with electronic music. I just dropped an EP on Blue Note with remixes by FaltyDL, Oddisee, fLako, and Taylor McFerrin. I lived in London for a year and went to Plastic People, Fabric, Cargo and met great DJs and producers like Benji B, Benga and Skream, Floating Points. So I miss that and want to do more in that world. I’m working on a new album now for next year called Desire.
GS: Your music draws from so many places, standing somewhat at its own station; In your opinion, what are the qualities of timeless music?
JJ: A human quality of understanding our condition in a specific time and place. Something that touches on that universal quality. “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” Powerful truths that have information that you can use in your life.
GS: What are your plans for your upcoming SummerStage performance? What can people expect?
JJ: I might drop a new song we’re recording this week if its ready! Got a great band – Kris Bowers on keys, Solomon Dorsey bass, Takuya Kuroda’s trumpet, Corey King trombone, Nate Smith drums, and special guest Brad Williams on guitar who’s really amazing. It’s a great lineup in the best city in the world and we will bring the fire!