James Welsh, better known as the producer and DJ Kamera, can’t grow a beard, but he can make unusual grooves, drone riffs, play electric instruments or just take you on a journey of his experimental instinct and thundering, industrial but yet hypnotizing, sensuous sound. He is in love with wine, the nature of Mallorca, The Prodigy Experience and as you are listening to his mix that he recorded for us, we discuss his connection with Erol Alkan and Phantasy Sound, his latest record and approach of unifying disparate styles of dance music that The Chemical Brothers support.
Your latest EP “Ventoux” just came out. Who or what were you thinking of when you started recording it? Do you have certain people or setting in mind when you make a track?
This EP was influenced mainly by a world record attempt that I did in Summer. Myself and four other cyclists rode up Mont Ventoux in Provence, France, 20 times each in 5 days. Beating the previous world record by over 30,000 feet.
A lot of time was spent alone, in pain, in extreme heat, in the dark, with wild animals etc. I had a lot of time to think about how I wanted this record to sound.
How it differs from your first EP on Phantasy Sound?
My first Phantasy EP ‘Arc’ was mostly conceived before I had a label for it. So I think it was slightly less coherent as it was a selection of a backlog of demos I had. All tracks I was proud of but all tracks from different periods.
You are coming from Yorkshire Dales, but how did you end up making music on the east coast of Mallorca?
My mother in law lives in Mallorca so myself and my wife decided to come here when she had a few months free. Being a layabout, work shy musician I can be anywhere, so why not be somewhere warm.
As you wrote on Facebook, “Ventoux” is the only record made in Mallorca with support from The Chemical Brothers. What wine did you open up when you got this information?
Anima Negra. The vineyard is in Felanitx, Mallorca.
So this is your second record on Phatansy Sound, beside remix for Erol Alkan. How did you first hook up with him and the label crew?
I committed the cardinal sin of inundating a label with demos. I think I sent a folder with maybe 12 tracks in it..? Which is something they say you should NEVER do. I guess it’s ok if all the tracks are mind-blowingly AMAZING. *jk
I read that Erol Alkan and you are coming from the similar background, what did you mean by that?
Myself and Erol had a show on a UK channel called Quest where he would buy second hand cars and I would do them up then we’d try to sell them for a profit.
Have you held other jobs while making music or has music been enough to sustain you? Or let’s say do you have a day job in addition to being Kamera?
I worked at a bike shop and on a soap opera for a couple of months but basically, I’ve only ever been a musician.
Speaking of labels and music, what have been some of your favorite labels and artists in the past?
Too many good labels really. Other labels I’m very close to and have worked with are Hypercolour, Futureboogie, WOLF and Dense & Pikas label Kneaded Pains.
As I know, The Prodigy Experience album made a big impact on you too. So they were one of the big boys that made you put a guitar by side and start playing with MPC 2000XL? Or let’s see what were your first machines?
My first machines were an Ibanez drum machine, a Fostex 8 track and a Novation Bass Station.
Can you tell us something more about your beginnings? I know you are coming from musical family and as I already said you played guitar as kid, but let’s talk about that breaking point when you started making electronic music?
I made my first track aged 13 I think with a couple of future music CDs and 2 tape players that had microphones. I would play loops on one and hit record in time on the other. I basically invented multi tracking 60 or so years after Les Paul.
Were you raving a lot in that time?
There was a collective of hippy, gabba techno types where I lived called The Fabulous 23s. They would do raves in the woods near my house. Everyone went.
Are there any newer artists you’ve discovered lately who you’re really enjoying? Do you keep up with the new records as they are coming out?
I buy a lot of records but have difficulty remembering track names or artists. I have a blue one at the moment that’s really good.
What is your personal relationship with vinyl, both as a DJ and as a label friend?
I buy a lot of vinyl and in an ideal scenario I would like to only play vinyl. For me, it’s more fun, i feel like I have a better connection with the tracks because I remember buying them, remember the sleeve etc. I might have bought it on a good trip to another country or something. When I’m scrolling through tracks on a USB I have no idea what is what most of the time. I end up drinking more because you seem to have so much spare time mixing on cdjs, It’s a completely different experience. I feel like a vinyl set from me is much more personal and interesting for the crowd. I paid for these records, I’ve liked them enough to carry them around maybe thousands of miles, I didn’t download these from a promo company this morning. That’s my personal opinion though. Loads of DJs obviously work hard on a good digital set and do incredible things with USB or whatever. Personally, I like to play records I remember buying at what were sometimes, interesting trips, from memorable record shops and I think that’s the best that I can offer. That’s what I want to present to people, a sort of diary I have some investment in.
I’ve unfortunately got so sick of turning up to gigs where the turntable setup doesn’t work, vibrations, poorly maintained, whatever, that I’ve sort of given up taking vinyl unless I’m 99% sure that the place is properly prepared for a vinyl set.
Tell me a little bit about how you choose the tracks for the mix you recorded for us. Did you mix it like a club set or you had something different in your mind?
Like I said, I buy records fairly regularly and this mix is mainly records I bought recently and was excited to play.
Click here to hear the radio show with Kamera.