James Maslow is a multi-talented singer and actor, who you might already be familiar with. He first made a name for himself as 1/4 of 21-million-album-selling boyband Big Time Rush, winning countless awards and headlining sold-out tours along the way. He also competed on the 18th season of Dancing With The Stars in 2014, finishing in a very respectable fourth place.
James has also gained a lot of acting experience in recent years. He starred in the international stage adaptation tour of Sherlock Holmes alongside David Arquette, and has also appeared in movies such as 48 Hours To Live and It Happened One Valentine’s.
Now, James is preparing to take the world by storm with his debut album How I Like It. After gaining momentum as a solo artist through covers on his YouTube account, James has been grafting hard on his personal material.
Recorded at Timbaland’s private studio in Virginia Beach, How I Like It is a slick twelve-track offering, which oozes pop and RnB vibes. There’s something for everyone, from catchy bops to emotional ballads. ‘Cry’ and ‘How I Like It’ are two tracks which have already been showcased, and from the fan reaction so far, we’re certain they’re going to adore the rest of the album.
We recently had the opportunity to ask James some questions about his debut album How I Like It, having free creative rein, his upcoming European tour, and what the future has in store.
First off, congratulations on your debut album How I Like It! You’ve already shared a few tracks with fans, but how are you feeling ahead of its full release?
Thanks! I’m just eager to get it out! I spent a long time discovering my sound and I tapped into something pretty cool with this record. I think people will dig it.
What’s the inspiration behind the album?
These songs represent different relationships for me. Whether it be an old lover, a friend, a family member or a girl I only spent a night with, there’s a song inspired by that relationship. Much of this is subtle, but it’s there.
We’ve got to mention that we love the album name too! Is it in reference to finally having sole control of your music? If so, how are you enjoying having free creative rein?
That’s very much part of it. Every single word, snare, melody, drum, etc is how I want it. How I like it. It’s a lot more pressure to have every decision resting on my shoulders but I finally have the freedom to create music that’s truly personal to me.
There’s a great mix of uptempo tracks and ballads on the album. Which song are you most proud of?
It’s hard to pick a “favourite” track because I love them all enough to have put them on the album…but something about ‘So Bad, So Bad’ has always stuck out to me as a winner. It’s quite unique.
A lot of the tracks are also lyrically stunning. You’ve been sharing some of your favourite ‘Cry’ lyrics on social media, but do you have any favourites from some of the other tracks?
I’m quite proud of the lyrics in ‘Who Knows’. It depicts being the relationship on the side. The one that treats her better, loves her more, tries his hardest and yet watches her go back to a bad relationship every time she leaves. He loves her so much more than she loves him and it doesn’t make sense. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this song.
How long have you been working on the album?
I’ve been writing music for years that could have potentially made a solo record of mine, but How I Like It really came together in about 6 months. ‘CRY’ and ‘How I Like It’ were actually the first songs written that made the album and they set the sonic tone for the rest of the record.
You got to record the album at Timbaland’s private studio. What was that experience like?
Pretty badass. The coolest part, frankly, was that even though we were at this crazy nice and expensive studio, it was just my boy Doug Makuta and I the whole time. Kind of felt like kids in a candy shop haha. It’s been nice to have Tim’s feedback on the music, but we really did all of this on our own.
Your solo sound reminds us a lot of Nick Jonas! Who would you say are some of your biggest music inspirations?
I’ve always gravitated to the way that Michael Jackson sings. It’s wild and free and passionate. I could say the same for Brian McKnight, though maybe more controlled. These days I’m really digging what Jon Bellion is doing.
You performed in London with Big Time Rush and you’ll soon be returning as part of your European tour. Are you excited to return as well as visit other cities in the UK/Europe?
I’m very excited. I haven’t been to Europe in way too long, so I’m looking forward to connecting to fans, meeting new people and getting to explore some new cities. I absolutely love the culture in Europe.
What can fans expect from your live show this time around?
This show is very much going to be about the music. I’m not going to have a big band and a lot of choreography, rather I’m going to have some instruments on stage and focus on singing. The record is very personal to me so I hope to bring fans along on that journey as I sing through each song.
As well as recording your album, you’ve been busy acting. Can you tell us how It Happened One Valentine’s came about?
Yeah this year I’ve already had a couple films come out. 48 Hours To Live went to theatres which was super cool for me, and It Happened One Valentine’s is out now on VOD and I’m really excited about that one. The director actually wrote the character of Caleb with me in mind, so we were both pretty pleased that it worked out!
What does the rest of 2017 have in store for James Maslow?
This tour and these films are just the beginning of 2017. I hope to play a lot more shows, and keep more and more film and TV content coming your way!
How I Like It will be released on March 3.