Podcast 729: James Bangura
James Bangura is the alias of Timothy Smith-Bangura, based in Washington D.C. A former military man and marching band member, his musical style—which sits in a fertile space among house, techno, and jungle—is a distillation of his varied musical influences, from the drum & bass that soundtracked his adolescence in Alabama, where he was raised by his grandparents, to the rich house of New York, introduced to him by his mother, a radio DJ and a key figure in the city’s ‘80s club scene. “She’s the person who first introduced me to house music early on,” Bangura recalls. “I think I was about 11 or so when I first remembered hearing a house track.”
As a youngster, Bangura found himself noodling away on his grandmother’s piano, and he spent his teenage years working as a club promoter, but quit music in 2010 to join the military and was deployed to Afghanistan. But, while there, he decided to learn how to write music because he missed the community so much, and he began uploading his sketches to what became a sizeable Soundcloud fanbase. Then, in 2018, when his military service ended, he secured his first release: seven percussion-heavy club tracks called Transitions on London label Pineal Sounds.
Earlier this year, Bangura delivered six more brutally energetic tracks on Mister Saturday Night Records, harking back to the jungle and breakbeat that he found himself consumed by as a youth. “I really just want to keep writing and sharing music with people for as long as possible,” Bangura tells XLR8R. “If something prolific comes from the fruits of my labor, I would be elated, but if not, I’d still continue writing. It gives me too much joy to quit.” Alongside Amal and DJ Nativesun, he also forms Black Rave Culture, a collaboration, as its name suggests, aimed at telling the throbbing history of Black dance music. (After May 2021’s debut on New York’s HAUS of ALTR, they have a second release on the way later this year.)
As his stock continues to rise, Bangura has just recently delivered to the latest edition of XLR8R+ dropping this week, XLR8R+035, a previously unheard production called “Renovatio,” which stems from a recent recording session where he tried to step beyond his usual approach to making music. Filled with energetic and euphoric house with splashes of driving techno, his XLR8R podcast, recorded over the Christmas period, not only celebrates our latest collection of music but gives us an idea of what to expect from Bangura this year, with three new solo releases already planned. In a year when dancefloors are expected to fully return, this mix will have you moving before you find them.
01. What have you been up to recently?
Focusing on the next Black Rave Culture release with Amal and NativeSun. It’s been close to a year in the making so we’re excited to share it.
02. What have you been listening to during lockdown?
This year has been a lot so my palette has been a lot of jazz and ambient stuff. The releases that really stuck out for me were Space Afrika’s Honest Labour on DAIS Records and Nala Sinephro’s Space 1.8 on Warp Records. I had both of those on repeat!
03. When and where did you record this mix?
I recorded this mix at the end of December at Eaton Hotel in Washington. The studio space there is a great area to really fine-tune your abilities as a DJ so it was a no-brainer for me.
04. How did you go about choosing the tracks you’ve included?
I’m a huge fan of house and techno tracks that have very evident grooves. Anything with chords will catch my attention, too. I love that sort of thing.
05. What can the listener expect?
Very fun yet intense energy!
06. What’s on your horizon for 2022?
2022 is going to be busy for me. I have three confirmed releases for the year for my solo project as James Bangura, plus two confirmed releases for the collaborative Black Rave Culture Project.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Full XLR8R+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.
01. TAFKAMP “Church of Pleasure” [Self-Released]
02. BAUGRUPPE90 “Feedback” [Self-Released]
03. Simoncino & Virgo Four Merwyn “On The Dance Floor” (Dub Mix) [SKYLAX Records]
04. Wanderist “Horizon A.B.” [Transient Nature]
05. DJJ “Yn Y Ty” [FCR]
06. Cinthie “City Lights” [AUS Music]
07. P.Vanillaboy “Ven Por Mi” (feat. Micav) [Goddess Music]
08. Harvard Bass “Organic Trippin'” [Self-Released]
09. Das “Identidad Alcanzada” (Original Mix) [Dissolved Mind]
10. Half Slept “Loading Screen” [Self-Released]
11. RELB “Conditional Reply” [Self-Released]
12. JNS007 “Resistance” [NewEraRec]
13. Steve O’Sullivan “Vert” (Extended Mix) [Unreleased]
14. Huey Mnemonic “Technician 3” [Self-Released]
15. Escaflowne “Fake Gram” [Self-Released]
16. MoMA Ready & DJ Torture “Untitled 1” [HAUS Of ALTR]
17. WAX “WAX70007B” [WAX]
18. Jump Source “Empathy Dub 1” [Jump Source]
19. Willow “Untitled A1” [Workshop]