Spokane DJ part of impressive lineup at Gorge festival
James Pants has seen the world, but his favorite place is home.
The Spokane DJ and R&B experimentalist has toured Europe five times. He just finished his first extended headlining tour across the U.S and Canada.
But Pants’ favorite place to play is still the tiny Baby Bar across the street from The Davenport Hotel.
He sets foot on The Gorge soil for the first time this weekend as part of the sprawling lineup at the Sasquatch Music Festival, along with the likes of Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, Erykah Badu and Ben Harper.
Pants is midstride in a steady climb up the ranks of one of the most respected independent labels in any genre, Stones Throw Records, while based out of Spokane.
In the eye of larger media, he’s viewed as an anomaly – the goofy white guy from a town known more for its serial criminals than its art culture.
And Pants (birth name James Singleton) prefers it that way.
“You can make your own weird stuff here,” said Pants, who lives with his wife, Kat, and their brand new baby, Olive, in a house in the middle of a trailer park in Vinegar Flats.
“I’m able to get more accomplished here. There’s not as much outside pressure to do a certain thing.
“I have a friend in L.A. who has to DJ all these birthday parties, and he gets his name out there, but he has less time to make music. I’m doing three records in a year and touring and I still have time to play ping pong because I’m isolated here.”
It’s been an extremely productive year for Pants.
His band, The Royal Zodiac, has been on an international tour. He’s been clocking high-speed numbers with his favorite side hustle, selling exclusive mix tapes for promotionals in Europe.
And he’s already sitting on enough product to release two more albums before year’s end.
For his next trick, Pants said he’s sculpted something of a backward follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut, the smiley-face, dance-heavy “Welcome.”
His next studio set, due this fall, was recorded during the hellish winter in Spokane, and Pants expects the moodiness to stunt the album’s commercial success. That’s OK, because for him, this one is all about street cred.
“I made the album in the winter and I was feeling all mystical and evil and I wanted a more psych-prog record to prove I’m not a one-trick dude who only does electro and boogie,” Pants said.
“This next album is not danceable, so I don’t think it will be hugely successful – if anything, more of a cult classic. This is not a cheesy, poppy record. This is for street credibility so people can look back and say, ‘At least he made one crazy record.’ ”
Pants is already over his cold snap. He’s following this forthcoming wintry album with a warm-weather tropical record, which he predicts for release next winter.
“I’m feeling good, but it’s going to come out in the winter when everyone wants to be depressed. I’m wearing shorts and drinking pina coladas and listening to Calypso,” said Pants, who fantasizes about filling The Baby Bar with sand and tiki torches and having a beach party for a December record release.
For Sasquatch, Pants said he’ll be in winter mode, playing a psych show in the dance tent – a misfit among electro bands, since he’s already abandoned that sound for the most part.
After that, he appears at ElkFest during ArtFest weekend, and as the featured guest at the Awesome Nice! monthly DJ showcase at The Blvd. After that, the Zodiac heads to London.
This is peak season touring for Pants, but being away from his wife and infant daughter for extended periods of time has its tradeoffs.
“I hate being away from the baby and Kat,” he said. “But if you calculate it out, I’m home more than someone who works 40 hours a week.”
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