Steve James is relatively new to the music industry, but he’s now one of the youngest Grammy-nominated artists at 18 years old. The young producer is one of the credited producers on Justin Bieber‘s hit album, Purpose, which is nominated for two Grammy awards this year, including Album of the Year.
While his nomination is quite the accomplishment, James’ career is just getting started. Here are five fast facts about this young producer that you need to know.
1. He Wrote the Title Track to ‘Purpose’ with Jason ‘Poo Bear’ Boyd
In 2015, James met with Bieber’s biggest collaborator, songwriter and producer Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd. According to James, the producer “enjoyed the music that I was currently working on at the time and wanted to get me involved with the [Bieber] album.”
He was brought in to work on the new record, and ended up producing the title track. Speaking with Idolator, James explained how the song came together:
“It was an idea that Bieber’s team had going into the process, but I think the fact that it was a message that resonated with us all so much is what drove creative process behind this track.”
In that same interview, James also revealed that he wants to be “in the best position to make the biggest splash,” after the Purpose excitement dies down. That’s where his original music comes into play.
2. His Newest Song is ‘Warrior,’ Featuring LIGHTS
In January of 2017, James debuted his latest track, “Warrior,” featuring LIGHTS, aka Valerie Anne Poxleitner. It’s a full-on EDM track in comparison to the pop song he produced for Bieber. And the song’s lyrics have garnered it an expletive language warning.
LIGHTS spoke with Noisey about the song’s year-long process that came together thanks to James.
“We sat on it for a while until the right person got their hands on it; and Steve [James] is totally fresh. He’s got a huge career ahead of him. He’s so solid [as a human, too]. He gets so excited, like me, and he just talks as fast as I do and takes these big breaths between sentences. He’s totally genuine. I think that’s something really special.”
James is no stranger to the collaborative process, even though he’s still at the start of his career. Some of his other producing credits include Martin Garrix’s “In the Name of Love” and Little Mix‘s “Power.”
3. He’s a Self-Taught DJ & Producer
Like most home-studio producers out there, James started off making music on Ableton. He was already a classically trained piano player, but became interested in electronic music when he saw an Avicii concert at 14 years old. His brother gave him a laptop and that’s where James took off.
Speaking with The Metro, James revealed he torrented Ableton and just researched how to start making the music he wanted to make.
“I started doing a lot of research on the Internet. Anything I wanted to do, like listening to an Avicii song and trying to figure out how to make the lead or snap in ‘Levels,’ you could just learn on YouTube. You watch a 10-minute video and figure out how to make it. Then I figured out what I wanted to do, started constructing my own stuff and pooled it all together piece by piece.”
He goes on to explain that being a “bedroom producer” is “the best way to” for someone to get their start in music. That’s how how he did it, at least.
4. His Career All Started from Soundcloud
“We really worked the Soundcloud world and the blog world. It was really about befriending the media and being genuine. A lot of these guys were posting my music before it was good. They liked me, and I think they saw the potential there. It was just a matter of me continuing to get better and make good content.”
From a Soundcloud account to a Grammy nomination, James has showed he’s taking his music very seriously and this is a great step forward for him.
“It’s no secret that dance music — especially the new generation — isn’t always so well-represented in the Academy because there are so many long-standing members who maybe aren’t as up-to-date with what’s current. So [being a Grammy nominee] is a great opportunity to be involved.”
5. He’s Going on Tour in 2017
Making stops across the country with a couple across the ocean, James has some big shows coming up in 2017. He’ll be appearing at the 2017 Firefly Music Festival in June, but leading up to that performance are a number of other dates.
Here are James’ tour dates in 2017, so far:
February 18 in Los Angeles, CA at the The Palladium.
March 4 in Amsterdam, NL at the RAI Amsterdam.
March 15 in Austin, TX at the Kingdom.
March 22 in Washington, DC at the Flash.
April 1 in Pittsburgh, PA at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
May 20 in Brighton, UK at The Great Escape.
June 17 in Dover, DE at Firefly Music Festival.
Stay tune for more updates about Steve James regarding his tour dates, upcoming releases and more.