From London one week to Austin the next, electronic musician The Range (James Hinton) has little time for sleep. He credits jet lag for his 11 a.m. sluggishness, but he’s giving it way too much credit — I didn’t notice a thing.
The East coast producer has an album coming March 25 entitled Potential, with released single “Florida” giving listeners a preview of what’s to come. Although the basic skeleton of his sound remains the same, the upcoming production considers more deeply what made his 2013 album tick, and takes it a step further. “The path from Nonfiction to Potential was linear,” he says. “I was thinking about the same things, just taking it further. In general, I like the idea that an artist will spend many, many years honing their specific process. I think that’s attractive and something, in music, many have abandoned.”
Later this week, Hinton will find himself in Austin, Texas for SXSW where he and several other talented/beautiful/insert-superlative-here will play at our official SXSW showcase. We caught up with him beforehand to probe his feelings about it.
So exactly how stoked are you about the [IHC] showcase?
I’m really looking forward to it. The IHC lineup looks fucking awesome.
Do you plan on seeing anything else at SXSW or are you going to be so busy you can’t do anything?
No, I think I’ll have a bit of time. Everyone’s there so I’m really looking forward to catching up with some friends. On Friday the YouTube Space is going to do the documentary that we’ve been working on so I want to see how that goes. I think the best part of SXSW is to be able to check out new things, the stuff you stumble on is the most exciting.
Can you tell me a bit more about the documentary?
Yeah, yeah. There’s a documentary coming out with Potential called Superimpose. It showcases the people whose vocals I sampled in the album. There was a director that went to meet all of them, and YouTube is kind enough to present that on Friday.
I think it really goes well with the context of the album, because obviously at SXSW everyone goes and plays their shows and it gets crazy, so I think it’s a good thing for people to just go, sit down, chill, and watch the thing.
So, amateur vocal samples — when did you fall in love with them?
I think that was around the switch from Nonfiction to Potential around May 2014. In the past, I used to watch people covering songs on YouTube acapella, but it was only somewhat recently I figured they were great.
There’s something about the fact that they’re not recorded in the studio and the fact that instrumentation is sharp and digital in quality, that they reflect on each other in a nice way. I think it’ll continue that way going forward.
I’m looking forward to it. Plus, Austin’s just a fun city.
Do you find that the vibe in Austin is much different than on the East Coast?
Well, obviously, Texas is just a different place, weather and vibe-wise. It feels like the middle of East and West Coast — there’s a bit of hustle there, but obviously more laid back with that whole Texas barbecue thing going on. In New York, I get a little too workaholic in that East Coast energy, so it’s fun to come to Austin and enjoy the calmer side of things.
What about LA? Any local spots you love hitting up?
Most of my time I spend downtown. The guys from Hundred Waters took me to Tenant of the Trees, which is kind of a mental night spot, as well as Silverlake Ramen. I’m just starting to learn about the geography, because, as I said, most times I’d be downtown. But I’m starting to go out to more neighborhoods and making more friends who live in different spots.
I think the crazy part of LA is that it’s so spread out that each distinct neighborhood matters even more. Like, some are going more East Coast-metropolitan while others are trying to retain their culture and feeling.
Shifting gears here a little, but what inspires your production and how do you want people to feel while listening to your stuff?
I think in the past there’s been this dichotomy with my music — do you listen to it alone with headphones or in the club? I think because I make my music in a pretty solitary space at night or walking around listening to what I’d done the night before, I think that’s a natural setting. But I also think in clubs, it’s fun to play my stuff out live where it can engulf people. It’s a totally different experience, but both are just as valid and important as the other.
What kind of goals do you want to reach by 2016?
Just do right by the record. You spend so much time making it, and once it comes out, it’s just as important to present and talk about it. Make sure the word gets out.
If, by the end of the year, I’ll be able to play festivals and shows in Europe, the UK, and The States, and have people understand my vision for it, then it’ll be a success.
Do you have any upcoming tours planned?
Yeah, I’m about to announce a tour for the US in May. June and August for UK.
Rounding things out now, we’re a couple weeks out from Batman v Superman, who are you rooting for?
Uh … I think you gotta go with Batman. You know, how can you not?
Superhero culture has completely taken over. I’m interested to see how this movie will change it up. It seems different, tonally, but I’ll definitely be fascinated to see it.
Any other nerdy pursuits?
That’s like, my baseline. I study physics, all I do is think about that.
You know, I was reading something about the writer for the Justice League film, and he said he was studying red-and-blue shifts and Doppler effects for the Flash’s powers.
Yeah, I’m a fan of that. People find math and science difficult, so I love that they’re injecting the harder stuff in these movies with a huge audience. Like, with Gravity and Interstellar, the audience is engaged in these topics in a mainstream, entertaining way. It’s more easily accessible.
Catch The Range at the IHC Showcase this Thursday, March 17 at SXSW. 800 Congress, baby. Be there.