Editor: Michael St. Michael @michaelstmichael
Interview: Dylan Jader @thedylanjader
Photographer: Brian Kaminski @briankaminski
Grooming: Abraham Esparaza @thisisbabe
Wardrobe: Shaina Feldman @thestylistshaina
James Maslow is recognized for his role in Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush. Since the break up he is a rising star as a solo artist and a heartwarming philanthropist. James has recently partnered up with Mission Save Her to end Human Trafficking.
Jeans - All Saints
Shirt - Simple Goods
Prune: You’ve been in the music industry for a long time now. Take me back to the beginning.
James: When I was six, my mom signed me up for the San Diego Children’s Choir. I hated it for the first couple of weeks, to be honest. About two weeks in, something clicked and I realized I was getting better at something I had fun messing around with – I was around talented people, it was cool.
Prune: Big Time Rush gave you your first large fan base. Talk to me about that experience and how it impacted your career.
James: Big Time Rush was such a unique, cool, and frankly appropriate project for me. What I learned throughout those years is that an entertainer is an entertainer, and I didn’t feel like I had to choose between the two (acting and singing). To get a record deal at the same time as getting a show was just an amazing way to really start on a large scale. It was family beyond set, and we got to tour the world. It was absurd – so cool – wouldn’t change anything. I was always keenly aware that it was a stepping stone to act and sing on my own terms, my own projects, and that is what I’m finally doing now.
Prune: Following Big Time Rush, you competed in Dancing with The Stars. Talk to me about that experience.
James: They blatantly lie to you when they sign you up. They say you’ll work three hours a day – bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. You can half ass it, if you’re not competitive – but, how many celebrities that get to that point in their career aren’t competitive? I’m the most competitive person I know, and we were training for twelve hours a day. It was absurd, but it was fun. It was a unique experience. When else would I get an opportunity to train and learn from the best in the world?
Jacket & Jeans - All Saints
Shirt - Zara
Prune: Today, fans see a new James Maslow. What inspired you to record a solo album?
James: I always knew I wanted to. To find the specific inspiration that the album derived from took me a long time. It took me years of writing music that I’ll never put out to realize the sound. I’ve grown and changed. Having material to talk about meant me taking a couple of years to experience life. BTR was an amazing life, but a very specific life. To travel, make friends, see family, have relationships – that’s the majority of what this album is about.
Prune: Your album, “How I Like It” released and instantly received positive feedback. Talk to me about the feel of the album as a whole.
James: It’s a really good taste of several different sides of me as a person and an artist. Chronologically, the order of the album makes sense and tells a story. However, if you were to look at one spectrum of the album compared to the other, you may think it sounds like two different artists. That was always the point. This was just the start, and now I get to take it further in different directions.
Prune: Your single, “Cry”, received attention for its powerful lyrics. What is the song about?
James: The song was inspired by a specific relationship in my life. It’s actually one of the few songs that tracks back to my childhood about a relationship that over years never got better. The song to me is a message that you can’t change other people, you can inspire other people, but you have to focus on yourself and not let other people or your past get in your way of moving forward. Sometimes you have to accept people for who they are and move on.
Prune: You partnered up with Mission Save Her to make an acoustic version of “Cry”. Talk to me about what this organization means to you.
James: I’m now on the board of Mission Save Her. Our relationship is incredibly organic. My friend, Reggie Benjamin, and Eric Benét as well, heard “Cry” and thought it was incredibly powerful. He asked to use it in the (Mission Save Her) documentary, and I said absolutely. We stripped the song back, slowed the tempo, and made an acoustic version. It’s one of the songs I’m most proud of. It’s not music for the sake of music, it’s promoting attention to a cause that is astronomically in need of more attention and understanding.
Prune: You recently won Macy's iHeartRadio Rising Star 2017 competition. What does this mean to you?
James: Winning the competition has made me realize even more just how powerful this can be for me. People initially questioned why I was doing this, but I did all the promotion on my own, independently. I’m not signed to a label, there is no financial backing besides my own to get this done. Winning Rising Star not only gives me the validation that people are enjoying the music, but is also so exciting. It allows me to be on a stage, literally and metaphorically, that otherwise would have cost a label millions of dollars to get. I’m so incredibly grateful for having the opportunity and winning.
Prune: Is it difficult to remarket yourself as a solo artist after being associated with Big Time Rush for so long?
James: A little bit of both. You have the diehard fans that I love to death who have gotten to know me on a personal level by watching me on social media every day. They know what I’m capable of. You also have a huge amount of the fan base that isn’t as engaged because there isn’t as much content out. It’s my job to show them why I’m doing this. I’m so grateful for all of them regardless. It’s my job to rebrand. I’m not a new James, this is who I’ve been all along, you just saw a different side of me. I was at work before, but now I can be me.
Suit & tank - All Saints
Shoes - T.U.K
Prune: Let’s finish with fashion. What is your everyday style?
James: Ripped jeans with a nice Chelsea boot and basic t. A nice watch or some cool jewelry. I like the idea of not being over the top, but having nice accents.
Prune: What are your three favorite fashion trends at the moment?
James: I just got a few rings and I love them. It’s an accessory I never knew I needed until I had it. Hats are always cool. Big hats, nice hats. Long t shirts too, I will not rock a short t shirt, unless it’s laundry day.
Prune: Time to fashion prune. If you could eliminate one trend, what would it be?
James: I’m sure you’ll find a picture of drunk James on a beach somewhere wearing one, but as a general trend I don’t think male rompers are cool.