Review Fix chats with singer Influential J, who discusses his creative process and goals for the future.
INFLUENTIAL J, born James Avalon Gandy Jr. is 21-year-old artist who raps, produces and designs everything from his clothing to his digital content. He even shoots and edits his own music videos. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, J has always had a passion for style. He looks up to rap icons like Kanye West (Pre-Sunken Place Kanye) & A$AP Rocky. His musical influences include: Kanye West, Drake, & Erykah Badu. This past fall he won the “Battle of the Bands” competition to open at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fall Fest for DESIIGNER and Amine. He’s been co-signed by hip hop music mogul, Steve Rifkind and is ready to make his mark on the industry.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
INFLUENTIAL J: I got involved with music when I was about 9 years old. I started out producing with my aunt who’s also a musician then went on to singing and eventually started writing rhymes. When I discovered I actually had flow and was dope at it, I just ran with it.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
INFLUENTIAL J: My creative process always starts with the beat selection. I spend hours on YouTube trying to locate the perfect beat/perfect producer. Once I find something I like I’ll play it on repeat out my speakers and record a demo of me saying nonsense to catch the flow, then fill the nonsense with heat.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
INFLUENTIAL J: I think others being successful inspires me. Honestly, when I see people my age, that are making moves and living how I want to live, it lights a fire under me to know that it is possible. Surrounding yourself with people who want to go places also helps with inspiration, your environment can become toxic if you are around the wrong people.
Review Fix: What makes “Flossin'” a special track?
INFLUENTIAL J: “Flossin” is a special track because I feel and hear growth in the song. I honestly think this is my best work to date. From the beat, to my flow and lyrics, I really feel like I made magic. It also came together so effortlessly which is always a great feeling when a track writes itself.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
INFLUENTIAL J: I would say my sound is very east coast, old rap over new wave beats because I actually RAP like rappers back in the day who cared about flow and bars. I write, give you metaphors that make you think, wordplay, all of that. These dudes don’t push their pen at all.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
INFLUENTIAL J: My live shows don’t differ that much from the studio versions of the tracks because I don’t usually perform with a live band. I mix the studio versions of my songs with other songs and create a live mix that even people who don’t know me will enjoy because they know a popular song I threw in the mix.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2018?
INFLUENTIAL J: My main goal for 2018 is to gain supreme visibility and garner a larger fan base. I want to do more shows and travel and really connect with people. I put in a lot of work so now I’m going to spend this year making sure I get what I know I should have.
Review Fix: What’s next?
INFLUENTIAL J: THE EP…. it will be flames fire 100 emoji all that, stay tuned!