Producer/DJ/legendary party-thrower James Friedman has been DJing since the late ’90s. Known for his underground parties, most notably Refuse, he has been a fixture of New York’s dance music scene for more than a decade.
His 2006 mix cd Go Commando garnered the utmost praise from publications such as Vice (10/10), which lead to a tour around U.S. and Europe. The end of 2006 saw the launch of his record label Throne of Blood with members of The Rapture. Churning out a wide range of cutting edge sounds, the label has seen the debut releases of artists such as thug-house artist Dances With White Girls to boogie-house duo Cosmic Kids. Check out James headlining SOM. along with the Cosmic Kids this Friday, January 27.
After releases on various labels, what made you want to start your own record label, Throne of Blood?
Well I worked at a number of labels and also released a DJ mix on Defend Music, but Throne of Blood is the first label I have a proper ownership interest in. It’s the culmination of not only a lot of years of loving music and DJing, but also a lot of time spent working on other peoples’ projects. It seems only natural to start putting that energy into something I have a more profound connection to.
With a name like that, do people ever mistake you guys for a metal label?
I assume so. Our artwork is pretty dark as well, which I think compounds the confusion. The name came from my partners from the Rapture. One of them is a fan of the Kurasawa film. Another really loves this dub track by Prince Jammy called “Throne of Blood.”
After the success of 2006’s Go Commando, which received much acclaim, was there a lot of pressure to release something great after?
Not really. Go Commando was great in that it came out at a moment when there was still some interest in CDs and there were very few mixes of that kind of music readily available to people. It met a demand and found an audience far beyond my expectations. I sort of worried about trying to be a professional DJ and taking the fun out of something I love a lot after the mix came out and stopped DJing as much for a while. That made sure that there was little to no pressure on me to do anything I didn’t want to do.
Will you be putting out any new mixes in 2012, or primarily focus on releasing other artists work on the label?
I’ll be doing some DJ mixes and podcasts for some friends and to help promote tour dates in places I’ve not been before, but the focus is definitely on releasing more music on Throne of Blood as well as our sub label, Let’s Play House, which I co-own with Jacques Renault and Nik Mercer.
You’re also known for throwing some of the best underground parties. What’s your advice on throwing a great underground party?
Well I definitely threw some great parties, but I’m not much of a promoter these days. I’m not out and about like a really killer promoter should be. My entrepreneurial energies are focused elsewhere. But the thing I think that really makes a party great is attention to detail. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but fastidious preparation really makes it easier to have a totally stress-free, balls to the walls party. When there are no loose ends and a good team is in place to make sure that the punters can forget the world for a few hours, a party becomes the stuff of legend.
Which year has been most memorable thus far in your career and why?
I think right now is the most exciting time in my career. I feel like Throne is developing into something really special. DJs and dancers are getting really excited about what our artists are doing and that enthusiasm is the most gratifying, inspiring things. The producers making records for me are just the raddest, funniest, greatest bunch of people, and my partners are awesome as well. Combining that with a ton of great parties all over Europe and the States, I couldn’t ask for a whole lot more.
What do you look for when recruiting artists for your label?
The first thing is the music of course. There is a real spirit of friendship running through Throne’s roster though as well. Just about everyone is somebody that has a relationship of some sort with me. Many folks, like Populette, Oneauff, Saarid, Harkin & Raney, Ulysses and John Selway are old friends. Folks like Bicep, Cosmic Kids, Mugwump and Ford Inc have come good friends after lengthy email friendships. But I definitely listen to demos and remain open to building more relationships that might lead to releases on the label.
Throughout your career you’ve been a journalist, DJ, promoter, label head, and music supervisor. Which one has been most fulfilling for you?
Without any question, building something I’m really proud of by working with my closest friends and artists who surprise and inspire me is the most fulfilling thing about what has been a fifteen year career in music. Here’s hoping for lots more to come.