LA-based singer, songwriter, and producer James Lee is making a return on Friday, May 22 with his sixth release of the year, “Erase.” Originally a member of ROYAL PIRATES, a Korean American band with viral success, James found himself faced with the unthinkable when he severed his left hand making it impossible for him to play the bass guitar. After five surgeries, James moved back to Los Angeles and released new music in a project called ‘The Light EP,’ which garnered almost $90,000 in support.
Nearing the fifth year anniversary of his tragic accident, James touches into the rock roots upon which he built his career with his single “Erase.”
The song, which is available for pre-save on Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer, previews his sophomore solo EP projected to release late June or early July. As a special gift for fans, those who sign up for James’ Patreon by Monday, June 8th, 11:59 PM (PDT) will have their name printed on the upcoming physical EP!
James took time to answer a few questions with allkpop about his upcoming release below:
allkpop (A): To begin, can you describe how you’ve been spending your time while sheltering in place?
James: I’ve been working on finalizing the mixes and artwork for my new EP. I’ve also been practicing performing via live stream. I am rearranging tracks for that format as well. I’ve also gotten obsessed with watching different cooking shows, so I might spend some time diving into that, although all I’ve made recently is cereal. I've also been reconnecting with friends because I have more time to text and stare at my phone.
A: What inspired you to release new music every month?
J: I realized that releasing music independently is a totally different game. In order to compete with the huge marketing dollars that major companies are able to spend, I'd have to use my strengths, which include being able to produce my own music and release it consistently.
A: What songs have you released so far and what was your inspiration behind those songs?
J: At the beginning of the year, I released “Alright” ft. Amber Liu, which was a track I wrote when I was just having a horrible day, and I wanted somebody to say those things to me. The MV ended up being released mid-quarantine and seems to be appropriate for the times. I’ve also released a track called “Bad Day” and “Over Us”. From a production standpoint, both of those songs are a departure from what I've done in the past, and a step in where I plan on going. My lyrics always resonate with my experiences, whether it be love or perseverance. However, I’m hoping to become much better at sound design, arrangement, and toplining with each song that gets released.
A: Can you briefly explain your new single “Erase” releasing this Friday? What is it about and what do you hope to share with fans through the song?
J: Erase is a blend of what I like to listen to, which is indie pop/R&B and future bass with emotional lyrics. I hope that fans will see that new direction I am going in with production. I like emo bands, but I also want music that makes me feel good. I feel like the drop in this track has a chill sense of euphoria.
A: How is making music while sheltering in place different? Are there any challenges?
J: It’s different because you’re unable to collaborate as easily. The synergy of writing with another person in the room is gone, so you’re forced to adapt. That being said, there are definitely new emotions that some people might feel bummed out about, but whenever I have a new experience, I try to use it as inspiration — even if that is the dread of being quarantined for an indefinite amount of time. I’m pretty much forced to keep myself inspired.
A: Can you tell us more about your Patreon campaign?
J: As a way to thank all the people who have supported me via Patreon, I will be printing every single patron's name on my physical EP! I remember being a fan of other artists and feeling so happy to get a signed CD. I just thought I would take it another step further. I look at physical albums as time capsules and everyone who signs up by June 8th will have their name on my next physical album forever! You can join my Patreon HERE.
A: What can fans expect from your much-anticipated second solo EP?
J: There’s a lot of growth on this project. I worked with different producers for the first project, but this one is completely self-written and produced. I feel more in my element, and the songs just make you feel good while maintaining the way I write lyrics. I think ‘The Light EP’ had much more desperation, whereas this project is looser. That allowed me to give it some edge that was missing. The EP is projected for a late June or early July release, so please keep an eye out!
A: What songs have you been listening to most while sheltering in place?
J: I’ve been obsessed with watching clips of ITZY on Instagram because their shoulder movement is fire, but music-wise I’ve been listening to PVRIS “Dead Weight,” Lael “Can’t Lose,” Dillon Francis ft. G-Eazy “Say Less,” and X Ambassadors “BOOM.”
A: Do you have any recommendations for fans who are also sheltering in place?
J: Stay creative. And remember when you get bummed out, that everyone else is going through something similar, so stay strong and healthy! Spend this time building something for yourself. (And listen to my music!)