Q: “When the Friends Check In” is so beautiful and much needed during these times. Where was your mind at when writing this?
JAMES GARDIN: At first I wanted to make a song of what it would sound like checking in on your friend when they’re struggling through a hard time and it ended up being a record that displayed what I would love to hear whenever I’m battling with depression, anxiety or just having a hard time dealing with life. So, it’s a record that’s for me as much as it’s for my friends.
Q: Some of your influences are Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin, and Bill Withers. They all have different sounds and styles. How do you incorporate all of these influences into your style?
JAMES GARDIN: I think a lot of what they’ve influenced is my love for melody and all of my music having a soulful relatable tone. I think that’s what I love collectively from all of them. I think specifically, Bill Withers is just an amazing songwriter, Kirk makes faith very real and honest, and Chance is a great technical rapper while making very relatable jams.
Q: You’ve had your songs featured in things like Tommy Hilfiger ads and ESPN, how does that feel?
JAMES GARDIN: It feels great. It’s honestly crazy when I see/hear my songs in ads or on TV. I definitely want to get more success in that area but it’s definitely a dream come true. I really can’t wait until I hear a song in a film.
Q: What’s the biggest struggle and strength that you’ve faced while pursuing your music?
JAMES GARDIN: My biggest struggle is probably like a lot of artist, comparison. I constantly fall into the comparison trap and it’s highly toxic. My biggest strength is when things get hard I don’t know how to quit. I’m stubborn in a healthy way that I will try to solve a problem before I let it defeat me.
Q: Who has been your biggest support?
JAMES GARDIN: My family have been my biggest support. My mom is always encouraging me to keep going and my dad is legit my biggest fan. He never misses an opportunity to brag and or share my music with strangers.
Q: What else do you have in store that you have been working on?
JAMES GARDIN: I’m working on some new music, of course. I’m trying to plan out some more virtual experience and getting ready for outside to open up for some in person experience and I’m also teaching youth in my city how to produce and write songs.
Interviewed by Taylor Berry