ARTIST PROFILE: Waves Collective (James Wood)

Words by Wendy Ma

Brisbane collective, Waves, do things on their own terms. Ultimately sharing what they love and are passionate about, they are responsible for bringing local and international, innovative beat makers out of the bedroom and out doing unforgettable club nights.

You can rely on them to help you drift off to euphoria on a Wednesday night (with their mixtapes here) after a hard days's work or if you feeling like making some serious waves, then you don't want to miss out on their events! One this Thursday night (19th September), Bad Bad Not Good at Coniston Lane!

I caught up with James Wood (can you believe we're the first to interview him wooooo!), 1/2 of the collective, I've never met someone so driven and passionate about what they do...yet a fanboy and sincerely humble all at the same time.

1. How long has Waves been about and how did it all start?
I guess it really began during a conversation over a beer with my co-founder, Alex Greaves. I'd been crushing on artists like Ta-ku/Flume/Flying Lotus (obviously hundreds more). Labels like Brainfeeder, Soulection and all that LA bass scene stuff. On top of that, YouTube channels like Majesticcasual were rocketing into popularity, Soundcloud was taking off properly and I was just constantly finding new and amazing music from all over the world. It was at this point I realized: this music (bedroom production, internet music culture etc) is really starting to swell and grow in popularity, largely due to the instant connectivity afforded to so many artists. So, we figured, if the demand is there, why not try and cater to it? Not from a monetary viewpoint however! It's not like we said "oh shit, we can make money off this!" It was from a mindset of "we love this stuff, and so do heaps of other people, but never get a chance to hear it out... so why not start our own club night?" And so Waves was born.

2. Tell us a bit about what you guys do?
We initially started as a club night but quickly evolved into a collective of producers, DJ's and fans of beat culture. Now, I use the "beat culture" term very loosely! To me (and it means something different to everyone) is all about the culture surrounding the production of electronic music that doesn't really conform to a genre - and never tries to. Obviously a lot of our favorite artists draw influences from hip-hop, RnB, trap and all that stuff; it'd be hard not to, but they all make music they want to hear, not what they think will sell records. That's, in essence, what bedroom production is all about: just making beats and tunes in your bedroom because you love to do so. So now, as a collective, our number one priority is providing a platform for beat makers they otherwise wouldn't get. Whether this be through our weekly mixtape, Waves Wednesdays ( or by putting them on our live gigs, it's really up to them.

3. Who is apart of Waves and what is your role?
Oh my lord, let me check the roster... Musically, we have our Brisbane based DJs (and some producers), the guys who usually play regular shows: Greaves (and my manager partner), Finehouse, Renz, Alex Terrell, Protokol, A Purple Heart, Zeddy, Milkboy and Charles Murdoch. Then, we have the producers who post up tunes, do mixes, share ideas, chat and just keep in touch with the culture we're buiding, of which they're a massive influence. These guys are all over the world and have names like Akouo, Papertoy, Sable, Sweater Beats, Yung Franco, CVRL, The Kite String Tangle. Now, we're in constant contact with a few other producers, but I'm not at liberty to name them, as I don't feel comfortable really using their names as a source of branding or "piggy backing". Actually, we've got some huge news to announce in relation to that, but I can't say anything until we've actually completed it and are about to release, but I assure you, Spool will be the first to know ;)

We of course then have all our 'promoters'. I say this with hesitation, as we don't really have promoters in a traditional sense. We just have people that are close friends of mine (either before this or as a result of Waves) who 100% love the music we push. We don't mass invite or clog newsfeeds - we just do what we do.

Oh right and as for me... I just kinda manage it all. Events, mixtapes, branding, publicity, marketing strategy and bookings. Whenever we have any major decisions to make, Greaves and I mutually decide, but for the day to day maintenance and organization, I just kinda get it done. It's the reason why I'll never focus on being a DJ or producer (I might do a cheeky mix or set here and there), but there's so many more guys/gals who are immensely talented producers - why would I clog that up when I can just facilitate a platform for them all?

4. Best part of running the collective?
Ah, this is an easy one: there's nothing more rewarding than creating something that others enjoy and support, especially when that something is about supporting others in return. To be providing a stage, platform and network for beat making talent and have that received so well. Absolutely love every second.

5. Give us a rundown of who your favourite acts were to bring to Brisbane?

Every single act we've been a part of hosting has had it's own unique feel to it. Acts such as: Willow Beats, Akouo, Giraffage, Sweater Beats and Renz.

Willow Beats (31/5), who we were lucky to host thanks to Pilerats were insanely amazing to witness: never seen so much energy and raw talent crammed into a set. They were so charming and just overjoyed that they could tour.

Akouo (28/6) hit up Benji at the Bowler Bar, who forwarded him onto me and it was just instant friendship ever since. We (regrettably, sorry Ryan) had him play on the same night as What So Not, so even though his crowd wasn't immense, we had an incredible night just connecting. He was actually my first ever national booking, and I vividly remember a whole heap of the collective just drunk, at 3am, bottles of champagne in hand, crushing out horrible dance moves as Finehouse dropped Baueer's remix of You and Me.

Giraffage (9/8)was actually quite recently and just... wow. From a Waves standpoint: that was a huge show for us. It was the show that really made people aware of who we were and what we were doing. It was a huge catalyst and I really can't thank both Giraffage and the Pilerats lads enough for that. As for his live set: killer. He'd jump from his Miley Cyrus slowjam remix to Rustie's Slasherrr and the room was just heaving. Every single person there was there for him, so having a room vibe out so hard was just immensely rewarding.

Sweater Beats (26/7)! This was actually thanks to Bowler Bar. They had made the booking but realized that he completely fit our vibe and just asked if we wanted to do the show. I obviously said yes. I got to spend 2 days with him for liaison, which was probably the best part! He's, hands down, one of the chillest and most humble dudes I've ever met and it was just a joy to hang with someone of his production calibre. We had a great time and he said he was more than stoked to come on board as part of the Waves crew. Honestly? It's so surreal just having him on my facebook and just being able to chat to him whenever.

Renz (26/4) is one of my first ever residents and just felt he needed a live show - his talent deserved it. So many of his mates showed up to support and it was in fact, one of our first shows.

Greaves (17/5) did a DJ set, as we were more focused on having a party and bringing friends in. That said, I can sum it up with one word: perfection. Don't believe me? Listen to this masterpiece: It's like, 2 hours of what Waves is all about. I really couldn't do what I do without him.

I remember each event vividly and am honestly privileged to have had them in to perform. I want to also give another big shout-out to the Pilerats guys, specifically Luke Whelan. Lukey, you is a good human bean.

6. Ultimate person to work with (alive/dead) and why?

I'm going to go with Ta-ku because I'm currently lucky enough to be working very closely with him on his label, Sunday Records, as his QLD representative. To have someone at his level show such a respect and love for what we're doing here in Brisbane...It's really, really fulfilling. He's immensely humble, creative and driven. He does things like randomly release his entire catalog for free because he feels that "The fans deserve it man. I'm only able to do what I do because of them". He's developed his name and reputation as an artist through his catalog, which is consistently on point. He keeps in touch with beat makers and labels all over the world. He understands the importance of family and friends and how they play such a pivotal role in your success. He just gets what we're doing at The Waves Collective and having his support tells me we're doing something right.

7. Favourite venues in Brisbane?
The Bowler Bar, 100%. Now, not necessarily for the crowd (which I do love) or even the music it's known for (I know NOTHING about Deep House/Techno/House, sorry). I love this place for the people behind it: Benjamin James, Nick Woodward and Tyron Simon. They've been nothing but supportive and encouraging since day one, even when I was a bit of a nervous wreck about things and wasn't sure of what I was doing. I really can't thank them enough.

Others venues I have soft spots for, for many reasons: Oh Hello, Wasteland, Alhambra, Black Bear Lodge and Coniston Lane. I love each of these places for their own individual quirks, but as someone who now works within the industry, it's about who's behind these clubs that matters the most.

8. If you were a digital platform/tech device what would it be and why?

Definitely an Xbox. I'd feed off the regret and shame that people would feel every time they picked it up to procrastinate. Hahaha Greaves actually just texted me his response to this question: "a gold plated iPod. Got dem tunes, dat swag and dat class". What a champ.

Come down and party Thursday night!