James Baron, is known musically as the solo-artist Ron Basejam, as well as a founding member of Crazy P. Whilst experiencing great group success, he began his solo career as a ‘no pressure’ side project in 2006, and has since made quirky music that thrives in the underground scene. In our conversation with James we talked all things music, ranging from studio equipment to underground venues. Above all what came of this interview is that despite great group success, this solo expedition provides the opportunity for James to truly express his creative side, as well as his love for diverse music.
1)How are you doing?
Yes, fine thanks, spinning a few plates, probably had one mince pie too many already.
2)What have you been up to recently?
It was a really busy summer with Crazy P. Since that calmed down a bit we’ve been cracking on with the new album. We’re about 74.6% there. We spent 2 weeks writing and recording at the farm where the Gottwood Festival takes place in North Wales back in Feburary where most of the material was conceived. Not quite Keith Richard’s french chateau but we gave it a fucking good go.
3)In regard to the studio do you use your own one for solo stuff, or the same one shared with crazy p?
Myself and Chris Hot Toddy’Todd share the place. It's used in a number of names for all kinds of stuff.
4)how did you guys come up with the name?
Probably not as interesting as you might hope! when we were in university and avid car-booters, a mate of ours bought a 7” by a group called loco pinga which vaguely translates as Crazy Penis. In our original format we were loco pinga until we got signed to paper recordings, when Elliot Eastwick (head paper honcho)found out what it meant he convinced us to go with the English translation. He told us to imagine the strength of a collaboration between Crazy Penis and Dirty Jesus (another act on the label). we weren't that precious about it at the time, we were just having fun. You can imagine we’ve had this question quite a few times over the years. Although this is the truth of the matter we have perpetuated other mythical explanations in other interviews for the hell of it. With a name like Crazy Penis it’s quite easy to go off-piste.
5)did the decision to make solo material come about, has it proven a nice escape from the group?
I was a slow starter but I'm definitely in a good groove at the moment with the solo stuff. Making music in a well-connected group can't be beat for me, but the solo thing is fun because its a blank canvas, anything goes. It’s also a chance to experiment with production techniques which require a bit of time and isolation. it’s difficult to spend the day A\B’ing microphones when you have keyed up musicians sat at the back of the studio waiting for results. All the projects invariably feed each other really though, hopefully forever expanding in a positive direction.
6)So your in the studio now, what's your favourite bit of equipment? If so tell us a bit about it? we’ve just got hold of the electro-harmonix crash pad and super space drum units which are wicked fun. Little boxes full of knobs that can give you anything from diving analogue fx to deep kick drums. They can also be linked to any trigger making them really hands on.
7)As far as the U.K goes, are there any underground venues that stand out for you?
I love downstairs at the soup kitchen in Manchester. The Peckam Pool Club in London is proper old school, rough around the edges which I like. More salubriously we recently played at The Roundhouse in Camden which was pretty special. I don't ask for a lot from my clubs - a dark room with a low roof and a great sound system and I'm happy!
8)When you go into the studio, do you have a plan in mind of the sound you want to make? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, it really depends on what the source of inspiration is. The more conceptual the idea the more I’m likely to have an idea in my head of how it should sound. If I'm just larking around with samples or jamming and i hit on something its very much a case of feeling my way until the idea becomes fully formed.
9)Has your approach to making music changed over the years?
I’d have to say yes. you’re forever learning in music so applying new approaches and techniques is inevitable.
10)What stuff have you been listening to recently?
It’s a broad palate. Anything from the late 60’s depressi-folk of Jackson C Frank to the satirical wit of Father John Misty. Dance music wise I've been buying a lot of records again, filling the gaps in my collection - a lot of dubby, late 70’s/ early 80’s disco.
11)How are you planning to spend your time over Christmas?
we’ll be on a plane to Australia late evening on Christmas day so it’ll be a combo of doing the traditional present opening and eating entwined with packing sun-tan lotion and trying desperately to find your shorts and flipflops. A strange mix!
12)What are your plans for the new year?
Gigs a go-go, I’m doing the Crazy P sound system with Dani at the Ivy in Sydney on New Years Eve, then onto Melbourne for New Years Day afternoon before returning to the northern beaches of Sydney that evening to play on manly wharf. Busy Busy!