Composer: James L Revels

You mention that you are a “self-taught” composer. Can you elaborate on that? How did you learn the ins and outs so-to-speak?

The “self-taught” part refers to the music composition and audio engineering. I learned how to do this by practicing engineering on the vocals of my high school friends who used to rap and by making instrumentals in my free time. I will admit I was taught how to read music in elementary, but that didn’t help me when it came time to compose.  I had to learn everything else from books, Google, and experimentation.

Have you always had a passion for music?

I haven’t always had a passion for music.  Initially, I wanted to be a writer–specifically poetry–but I came to feel that most people wouldn’t listen to my poems unless they were over music.  So, during high school I bought a five-dollar gaming mic, began experimenting with music, and the rest is history.

How many hours a day or week do you work on your music? Tell us what a typical day for James is like.

I practice about 20-40 hours a week depending on my work schedule. A typical day involves waking up at 7 or 8 a.m., then jumping on my keyboard for about an hour. After that, I get online to check the social media and work on a composition or instrument building in Reason.  After that, the day is pretty free-form. I could be going to work or going to hang out with my music mates of Radikal Nation as we work on our group album. I’m still an ordinary person, for now 🙂

In what ways do you promote other artists?  Tell us about some of the venues in which you promote both your music and that of others.

I promote artists primarily on the internet. Particularly, my blog ( or on Radikal Nation’s blog ( RN does have an official website ( which we plan on turning into a place where musicians from all over can network and talk in our forum, but right now the site is in its infancy. We are still gathering support for it.

Any advice for those looking to get into  composing and/or writing music?

I’d say, “network almost as much as you practice,” because what’s the point of having music that no one is going to know about and listen to?

Five contemporary artists you admire and five legendary and/or old school artists you look up to:

1. Zun

2. Masashi Hamauzu


4. Fall Out Boy

5. Nobuo Uematsu


1. Nas (lyrically)

2. Claude Debussy

3. Jimi Hendrix

4. Gustov Holst

5. Modest Mussorgsky

Who or what inspires your music?

Curiosity inspires my music the most. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said, “Geometry is frozen music.” I take this completely literal, and I’m trying to see how far I can take that idea. It’s better understood with a few pictures of my note [I’ve attached a few pictures for you]

In one word, music is __________



Radikal Nation Presents…夏炉冬扇 Karo Tōsen (Summer Heater, Winter Fan) and XXXplicit CompleXXXion Series. Karo is my 45 minute summer project which takes you through a variety of sounds and is practice for my first album which is to be released as soon as I upgrade to Reason 7. You should download it so you don’t miss out on the 6 download exclusive tracks. (
XXXplicit CompleXXXion Series by Divine Linez is a sensual 4 track mixtape for those who have some extra freakiness they just can’t seem to release. Unlike the average sex rapper, Divine Line brings the aesthetic of a poet, while still being raw and frank. Whether you prefer a Mz. Dark, Brown, or Light Skin ,or happen to be a Miss yourself, I’m sure you will find a track for you. (
composerintervattchIMG_20130926_100828 IMG_20130926_101042 IMG_20130926_101249 IMG_20130926_101554
Thank you, James, for an excellent interview. Best wishes on your new release.
Interviewed by Shonte’ S  aka Whatevertheyaint

Thinkin’… Music & Artforms: Frank Ocean

So I came to the song late.  And maybe I’m not as hip to the music game as I used to be.  And perhaps I ceased tuning in to the radio because every song consisted of getting into bed, leaving a club, grinding while in a club, or getting one’s drank on.  Ain’t knocking the music hustle,  just grew tired of the lack of creativity.

But that changed on the way home one night.

On this night, someone called my name, my middle name, the six-letter word add apostrophe that only a few know. I didn’t stop, but it came again– spoken softly, the way only one person could. My feet came to a halt as I cautiously looked around.  And that’s when I saw him.

You know that awkward moment when you haven’t seen someone in eons (in this case, a decade) and you don’t know whether to nod, shake hands, side pat, or ignore them altogether?  I went for the nod; he chose the bear hug.   So, I immediately withdrew, the way any sane, legally attached, content/happily married woman would.  Gave the standard, “Good seeing you,” which, basically translates into a cordial buh-bye.

For good measure, I added, “Yeah, really  have to go.  Need to pick up such-n-such and after that, I have to such-n-stuff-n-such.” Then I got in my car and, by chance, turned on the radio. What did I hear? Some dude talking about Idaho and California.  But I kept listening.  And then he hit falsetto:  “But…do you…not…think so far…ahead…”

I turned the volume higher as I rounded the corner.  I listened.  And smiled.

Frank Ocean

Channel Orange


Faves on constant repeat:

  • Thinkin’ Bout You
  • Pink Matter
  • Sierra Leone
  • White (Should have been a song but some tight-boss jazz!)
  • Sweet Life
  • Super Rich Kids
  • Pilot Jones
  • Bad Religion
  • Forrest Gump
  • Pyramids

Miles, Music, & 2001

Writing isn’t my only love. In fact, I’m not sure which came first in my life–writing or music.   Let’s see, I wanted to play guitar and take dance lessons sometime before pre-K, and as soon as I learned how to place my alphabets correctly on the little blue dotted lines, I began creating stories.  Still, if you think about it, it looks like music came first.

However, my introduction to Miles was somewhat of an accident.  I decided to buy Kind of Blue because…well, it fit my mood at the time.  My best friend was getting married and I was a little melancholy, unsure of how it would change our relationship.  Every evening, I’d light a citronella candle, sit outside, and write about the upcoming change in our lives, all while listening to Miles.

Ironically, that CD was also the introduction to my husband.  Yep, the best friend got married. And later, I got married.  But before that, I met Future Hubby in the CD section of a retail store. I was looking for more of the jazz genius I’d been listening to for the past couple of months.  Future Hubby’s words were, “what you now about Miles Davis?”  Of course, the man who is now my husband had tried several times before then to get me to call him and go out with him, but something about him challenging me with a music question struck a chord.  From there ensued a debate. And then a date.

Soon came marriage and children. I’d put the kids to sleep with Kind of Blue and Love Songs by Miles.

Somewhere in there, one night while I was asleep, I heard a horn, a distinct pitch, a sound that only Miles could create.  I looked up. I’d fallen asleep with the television on one of those music channels that play all night.  Solea, it read at the bottom. By Miles Davis.

I knew it!  But where, on what CD?  Obviously one I didn’t have.  I adjusted my eyes to the blue light of the television screen–Sketches of Spain, the words read.  I had to find it.

F.Y.I:  If you’ve never heard it and you like jazz, go get it.

Art comes in all forms, not just books and poetry.


Cover of "Sketches of Spain (50th Anniver...
Cover via Amazon