By Callie Hitchcock
VANCOUVER — American electronic artist James Hinton a.k.a. The Range plunged deep in to the YouTube abyss for the release of his new album, Potential, which samples unknown YouTube vocalists playing a key part in his audio creations. Excellent pacing and rhythm coupled with vocal loops mirror a state of consciousness or monologue.
“I only have what’s in the YouTube video so it’s a nice consequence that that repetition and inner monologue can come through. Whether you’re beating yourself up or you’re having a good day, you end up repeating the same singular message to yourself. That’s a nice consequence of the looping material in the song,” says Hinton.
Amongst beats, faded phrases and music coordination, The Range ultimately provides an escape from a heavily structured reality. Breaking away from full grammatical sentences but keeping the human voice element allows listeners to “tune in to the human voice while stripping away the linguistic meaning, which allows you to let it go to a sub-cortex level.”
Through the genre of electronic music, Hinton brings attention to the margins of thoughts and feelings that aren’t always available for discussion in popular culture. By moving away from the explicit in popular lyrical music, Hinton gets to explore experiential nuance. “We don’t live much of our life in that literal space. A lot of our time is spent alone on the computer, which is an internal monologue, not a conversation. It’s not structured. You’re not talking to yourself you’re just feeling things.”
The style of electronic music with a focus on beats and musicality allow for relating to a perhaps more visceral experience of the body and mind at a pre-verbal level. Unformed thoughts, feelings and experiences finally get their chance for significance in their own right.
What results from his endless YouTube searching and sampling is the experience of “a slice of someone else’s mind.” Hinton says he took extra care to “make sure the music is supporting and allowing the music sample to talk to the music.” Finding the right balance between music and lyrics took fastidious care.
“What was most interesting about the YouTube samples were the people. I was curious about them. I played their songs over a hundred times.”
Hinton wants to shed light to the people in self-publishing that aren’t trying to be Justin Bieber and not trying to follow a certain success tree.
“It’s the golden thing about publishing that is forgotten. I’m hoping to draw some attention to them for their own work. I’m happy to be a platform.”
Listening to tracks “Florida,” “Copper Wire” featuring London based rapper Kruddy Zak and “Five Four,” the opening music creates a hopeful soundscape; the theme of potential seeping in from every direction.
“It’s a dual name choice. Obviously I mean the people on YouTube but also for myself. It was an interesting time for me to say ok this is sink or swim time, if music doesn’t work out I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go back. At a certain point you have to be like, ‘this is my thing, I am doing this.’” As a graduate of Brown University, studying mathematics and physics, Hinton originally had a back up plan to do something concerning those pursuits if music didn’t work out.
“I’ve always known I was musical and capable, but it’s a very different thing to pull away the safety net,” he says.
This album marks a point in the Range’s career where he is fully committing to music, potential and the unknown.
“Everything will be good. It’s just a process.”BC, British Columbia, The Range