by: Amanda Savage
Local legends is a new weekly feature that will spot-light the people responsible for the sounds of Scottsdale. This week, ex-drummer for Authority Zero and now electronic music producer, Jim Wilcox, talks alter egos, EDM, punk rock, dubstep, NERO and cheeseburgers.
AFM: Let’s start with some ice breakers, what are you doing right now?
Right now I’m sitting on my couch going through emails and streaming my Sound Clound wall for new sounds from the people I follow. I do this in the mornings, I’m always listening. If I’m not doing this I’m usually playing around on my turntables or my S4 (native instruments controller).
AFM: What’s the last song you listened to, besides your own?
“Last Night In Brooklyn” by Innerpartysystem. I’ve been a big IPS fan ever since my boy John showed them to me years ago and recently had there keyboardist (Iamwuki) out for an EDM event in phoenix. It was really fun!
AFM: What city are you living in?
At the moment I’m living in Tempe. But I’m moving to Denver in a couple of months. I’ve lived in Phoenix my whole life but I feel like it’s time for a change; a new scene, new people, old friends and new influences.
AFM: What’s your favorite place to eat? Or favorite local menu item, or both!
Man thats a tall order of a question ha ha! Being that I spent 12 years of my life traveling playing drums all around the world I’ve had the honor of eating some absolutely amazing food! One thing I realized in my travels though is that I LOVE cheeseburgers!
I think I could say The Casino El Camino in Austin would be one of my favorites. I’m a HUGE hot sauce fan and this place makes a hot sauce burger. They marinate hamburger meat in different hot sauces (mild, medium, suicide etc.) for like 24 hours or something before they cook it. They are so amazing! my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it!
AFM: Best place to have a beer? Or cocktail if that’s more your thing?
Well this is a tough one as well. I would have to say my favorite beer and my favorite place to have a beer are two different things. My favorite beer is a Double IPA made by the Standing Stone Brewery in Ashland, Ore. My favorite place to have a beer is simple: anywhere that has a good environment and good local beers on tap. I don’t think I have a specific place in mind but I would say, around Tempe, I love Four Peaks Brewery.
AFM: Let’s get into some music questions, who are some of your favorite producers at the moment?
Locally, I’m a fan of Ravaza, He’s super funky and traditional, when you listen to his stuff your ass moves, plain and simple. Tranzit for his grimy electro house style and always positive attitude and Miss Sparks cause we simply need more girls writing and producing original tracks, she knows whats up. Honestly this list could go on and on. There are quite a few great producers in this town.
On a national level I follow Tommy Trash pretty close, along with A-Trak, Zomboy, Schoolboy, Subfocus, and Protohype. Those are the people I’ve been hooked on lately, but I’m listening every day and exploring constantly, so I’m sure I’ll have more tomorrow, ha!
AFM: If you could tour with three other DJs, who would they be?
That’s a good one. Well I would have to say NERO because I just simply want to be around them daily for a few months. I’m sure that experience would change me. Bassnectar, because he seems like that rad guy you would have as a best friend for life, ya know? He’s out going, humble, and simply a lover of music. I would say A-trak because that guy’s music selection is so wide that I just feel it would constantly keep things interesting on the tour.
AFM: What’s your dream venue to play at?
I want to play the Beta in Denver. Not because it’s a huge venue or anything, in fact, I would love to play there even if it was empty. My reasoning is because of the Function One sound system. A lot of people don’t pay attention to what the sound system is as much as I do. But, oh man! Function One is the absolute best, and I just want to rock a room with that system in it!
AFM: So you produce music now and I know you played drums for Authority Zero. How did you transition from that to producing electronic music?
I’m really happy you asked. What a lot of people don’t know is, previous to even being a drummer I used to sit in my room at 14 -16 years-old, and attempt to remix songs like Billy Joel’s “For The Longest Time.” At the time I was using Sonic Foundry Acid 3.0. I also used to play around allot on the Playstation using Mtv’s Music Generator! Oh man the memories! Now that I think about it I actually made a 4 song CD with that game, I wonder if i can find it somewhere.
I’ve always had a big soft spot for electronic music, Prodigy’s record “Experience” is a record I think I bought like four times cause I wore it out listening to it to much (thankful for digital these days). The Chemical Brothers, DJ Shadow, UNKLE, it’s all there in my past.
I grew up in a very diverse family of music, my parents were into all the classic rock, my bother was into Hip-Hop and everyone around me was into the rave scene. I’m extremely thankful for that and I think it was only fitting for me to become a drummer and explore my rock roots with Authority Zero. Simply on the fact that it was another journey for me musically. Authority Zero gave me quite a big push with what I’m doing now because of the constant song writing and being in the studio. I learned a lot from being with them and definitely perfected my fundamental music theory and song writing skills. Another thing would be the endless hours I spent in a van traveling and writing music on my computer, thanks everyone!
AFM: How does your start as a drummer in a more punk rock scene influence your electronic music style?
In my opinion drums are the core, the backbone and the most important piece to a song, even if there are no drums. Its our job as drummers to make sure we are backing-up our band mates. We need to help that guitar lead stand out by playing more simply, or really getting down on that baseline to make people feel what your bass player is putting out. Even keeping your rhythms in line with your vocalist so when they want to really accent something you are there to help them do so.
Being a drummer for so long has made me have to pay attention to not only the music but to everything that is going on in the song, and this helps when you are writing. Most people I’ve met tend to write drums first in a song, but I’m the opposite. I’ll sit with a key board and play with some ARPS, or leads until I hear a rhythm that I’m “feeling.” My music shapes my drums and then my drums come full circle and make sure my music is sounding how I was hearing it in my head. I feel like my style of writing is a little unorthodox, but then again, there are no rules in art. Whatever gets you to the point of writing a song that you love is all that matters.
AFM: I feel like the electronic music scene and the punk rock scene are nearly opposite. From your experience how would you compare the two?
To be honest I’ve never really analyzed why they seem so different and I think they might be closer then we think. If we sit and think about it they could be quite similar. Mainly because they are both a scene based around a genre of music. I believe scenes are created for a love of that music, and the people coming together to enjoy that music.Now the ideals and beliefs that come with that music can shape the scene’s very differently of course, but the initial growth is pretty similar.
What I’ve noticed about the EDM scene is mainly the positivity. People really just get together to dance and have a good time. They let the music take control, vibe out, and forget about their cares and worries. The punk scene is the same, but it’s more aggressive. You’ve got people there to get fucked-up, people who just want to listen, people who want to get crazy in the mosh- pit and then there are the ‘all-of-the-abovers,’ ha! People at Authority shows would always tell me it was a way for them to get rid of there shitty week at work, but since I’ve been around people in the EDM, I hear the same things.
It simply comes down to what your ‘pleasure’ is in my opinion. I personally, love it all. I can be in a club and vibe out on some amazing DJs or just like last night, go watch one of my favorite punk rock bands and feel just as satisfied. As far as missing anything I would say the only thing I really miss is killing those drums for 10,000 people. Those festival shows we are always amazing and so much fun, but hey, I’ll get there again and trust me, the minute an opportunity arises for me to play the drums life with one of my DJ sets, you better believe I will!
AFM: What about the music you create? Would you say that you have a distinct sound? Is it something that just happened or something you chose and aspired for?
I wouldn’t necessarily call my sound “distinct” only because with the size of the dusbtep scene these days, it’s pretty hard to be really distinct. I will say my sound is my own though. I write what I feel and if I’m not feeling it, I’ll trash an entire song. To me music is about emotion, and emotion is what drives us on our daily journey through life. Good, bad, whatever; it’s our emotions that push us as people to react how we do to any situation daily. My sound simply fits me for that reason.
AFM: Do you have an residencies or regular gigs? Where can people listen to you live or online?
You can always check out my soundcloud.com/jimwilcoxmusic page for my latest releases and mix tapes. At the moment I don’t have any residencies using the name Jim Wilcox, but I have an alter ego, Blue Collar Prophet, that does open format sets and remixes at Dos Gringos Scottsdale on Fridays, and Dos Gringos Tempe on Saturdays.
AFM: Any big plans for 2013? Tour, shows, etc.?
As of now the only big plans for 2013 are to move to Denver. My lady and I have wanted to move there for years and now that I’m not touring constantly, we’ve found the time to make it happen. Other than that, I’ll be working hard on some shows and hopefully some tours as well!
AFM: You have an album or EP dropping this year, right? When does it drop?
Well there has been a little change in direction for my EP. Recently I’ve decided to separate myself into two entities. On one hand I have Blue Collar Prophet, a one format DJ, remixologist and all-around party guy. On the other hand I have Jim Wilcox, EDM producer, fan and beat-junkie. He is definitely the more serious side of what I’m doing these days. I’ve found that my style has leaned a lot harder on the dubstep side of things rather than Electro house so I’ve decided to take my favorite three songs from what was going to be my record and turn it into a dubstep EP.
AFM: Is EP being released on a label?
We are currently shopping it to some labels as we speak (keeping my fingers crossed for Plasma Pool).
AFM: Is this your first EP? Or have their been others?
I released an EP about five years ago called 240 under Blue Collar Prophet. Beatport calls it trance, but I’m really not sure you can put that record into one genre. I was on tour with Authority at the time and just writing whatever I was feeling at that moment. Some of it is almost happy hardcore and some of it is trip-hop. It’s interesting to say the least, ha ha!
To this day I’m still proud of it though. Yea, it might not be the popular sounds or whatever. But it came from me and it was a stepping stone to what I’m doing now, so I’ll always appreciate it. After that I didn’t release much being that I was just busy touring. But over the last year I put out a few singles (also available on Beatport) that I’m very proud of. One is called “Saturator” and the other is “Veritcal.” The upcoming EP will be released under Jim Wilcox and will be the first release under that name.
How would you explain the sound?
Well, my sound in a nutshell is dubstep. I’ve gone in all directions with dubstep. Most people think of only Skrillex when they hear the word dubstep, but I’m more partial to keeping my options open in this genre. I’ve been listening to dubstep for around seven years and my first love was actually Skream. Upon diving deeper I fell in love with Rusko, Caspa, Flux Pavillion and so on. Skrillex is a big influence but mainly because of his sound design, there just isn’t anyone out there getting the sounds that he gets. Bassnectar is also a big influence because I like how his sound is more simple, but I would say my biggest influence would probably be NERO. NERO encompasses everything that’s true to dubstep to me. From the epic huge tracks that drag you on a journey to that in-your- face grime that you can’t help but get down to.
Follow Amanda on Twitter @Amanda_Savage