James Perri has a deeply interesting & accomplished history. Based now in Zagreb, which makes the connection & collaboration with Imogen Recordings; Ilija Rudman & Antonio Zuza.
Raised in Chicago, music was part of his life early, singing in gospel choirs before going on to be a significant part of the early Chicago House scene. His first record was ‘Libra Libra’ on ‘Chicago Connection’. And Jimi Polo’s ‘Jeanette Thomas”Shake Your Body’ is a Chicago/NYC cult classic.
As the house movement was building in the UK, Perri moved across the pond and hooked up with ‘Adamski’. Together they made one of the earliest and most enduring UK House releases with 1989’s double A-side ‘Free Yourself/Better Days’ on ‘Urban Records’. It was ‘Piano House’ at it’s peak, evident in the amount of times it was sampled. Joining Paul Oakenfolds ‘Perfecto’, he released ‘Express Yourself’ also in 1992. Close friend to Adamski, they also recorded ‘Never Goin Down’ on MCA.
Other collaborations include Guyman of ‘Daft Punk’ & ‘Masters At Work’ heavyweight Kenny Dope Gonzalez on a remix of ‘Shake Your Body’. Perri’s keyboard talent was recognised by Nellee Hooper & Jazzie B of UK national treasure ‘Soul II Soul’, where James was signed for two years. During this time Soul II Soul won a Grammy.
The ‘Moods EP’ material was originally recorded by James Perri back in the 90s when ‘Jimi Polo’ was a session player in high demand across multiple artists, who at that time were melting the charts. This music has been locked away waiting for the right moment.
’70s Theme’ invokes the mood music of 70s cinema style ‘Black Exploitation’. ‘Brother Beware’ is a sweet and soulful song of faith and unity, the vocal of ‘Lamya’ from ‘Soul II Soul’ who is sadly no longer with us. ‘Express Yourself (Original Version)’ is pure Rare Grooves and was recorded at Brittania Road
Studio’s, London in the 90s.
Q1, Hello James and welcome to a Q&As with eclectics. James you have such an amazing, varied and accomplished musical story which has brought you to be based in Zagreb, how did that come about and how did you meet Ilija & Antonio (Imogen Records)?
Thank you for having me Croatia was a new beginning for me I had just had my daughter with her being born in Croatia I thought I would give it a chance see what would come out of it. And here we, are Ilija and Antonio awesome good guys, I’m looking forward to doing good things with them in the future
Q2, The 3 tracks for the ‘Moods Ep’ were made whilst you were in Soul II Soul, why is it that they’re only getting released now?
The 70s Theme was done in Paris, I lived there for five years at the same time I was working with David Guetta , Guyman of Daft Punk and Martin Solveig. Brother Beware was done whilst I was a member of Soul II Soul, with the great singer Lamya she really taught me lots about vocal harmonies. Express yourself was written after that, It’s time for new start in 2018.
Q3, Who made the best cup of Tea you or Adamski?
Adam definitely made the best cup of tea hands down he was the first one to introduce me to couscous and Le Petit restaurant in Kentish Town.
Q4, James do you have a particular formula to making tracks or is it much more organic than that?
It all starts with what’s in your head melodies you hear what beats you hear that’s where the truth is and the spirit and soul music.
Q5, Is it important for you to make dance music or are you happy to make music that fits in with other genre, is genre even important anymore?
To be quite honest if you are serious musician and composer genre is not important
It’s the feel of the music and also the mood what is it for who is it for being able to set the tone and emotion for it to be visualized or heard.
Q6, James if you could have made the sound track for any film, which film would it have been and why?
Romeo and Juliet because it captures all the emotions of life joy, pain, love and tragedy.
Q7, Favourite Sunday morning coffee album of the last 10 years and why? (can also be a comp if you wish)
It captured all the my emotions and brought me to tears and made me laugh and think about life.
Q8, What were the first and last records you bought and have your musical tastes changed much over the years?
First record ever brought was the Jackson five ABC,the last record I brought probably a Prince record, My taste in music is always constantly evolving I really do love all types of music if it has emotion it’s affected me truth be told.
Q9, We have all been the victims of a fashion/hairstyle faux pas what would you say was your worst?
The 90s flat top haircut.
Q10, I have to ask, what is/was the most memorable club night | dj set | moment | memory you have from the early ‘House’ days in Chicago?
The first time Ron Hardy played Jeannette Thomas shake your body at the music box in Chicago, I had just come out of Tone Zone studio in Chicago where I was working with my partner at the time Tony Bowie, we had made a rough mix and we took it to him just before the music box opened. He played it and said he would add to his set next week which he did, he mixed James brown with shake your body an incredible mix the crowd went mad and the rest is history about that record.
Also the beginning of the powerhouse club on the southside that was a groundbreaking moment for me also. Well, It’s really where I learned to appreciate and respect and know Frankie Knuckles.
Thank you for having me Grant look forward to seeing you soon…
James Perri ( aka ) Jimi Polo
Presents Vagabond Music.