James Kennedy of Vanderpump Rules has come a long way in his career. The era of “White Kanye” is over, and house music remixes are here to stay. He exclusively discussed his upcoming single featuring Sydney Adams with TheThings.
Along with that professional milestone comes the support of his family and a matured appreciation for life.
Remixing House With Throwback Hits
We’ve seen through your music that you love mixing house with throwback hip hop. Are there any artists that you would love to remix that you haven’t yet?
“Oh my god, there’s so many. There’s so much old stuff that I haven’t remixed yet. I was thinking of Cypress Hill, Gang Starr, MF Doom, and all these old-school hip-hop artists. I really love bringing it back to, you know, the ’90s days and having people remember those tracks on the dance floor.”
“You’ve got millennials that don’t necessarily know those songs yet. You bring them back and they’re like, oh sh*t let’s go! I really do love that and then of course incorporating it with that new style with the bass lines. I feel like rap and house just goes perfectly together.”
Kennedy doesn’t have a problem translating his music to his own generation and younger ones. Who doesn’t want to hear a new version of “It’s Tricky” or “Lose My Breath?” He knows his audience and takes his experience from the most popular clubs in Vegas and Los Angeles to platforms like TikTok.
“I really love experimenting with transposing vocals down. Like, taking an old song and I love flipping it as much as I can, make it as house-y as possible. That Destiny’s Child track, that remix, no one had touched that song. I don’t know how no one remixed it before! It instantly went viral on my TikTok and stuff.”
Honoring George Michael
Your godfather George Michael, would you remix any of his music to honor his legacy?
“You know, it would have to be done right. Definitely in my life, it’s going to happen.Who knows, it could be something special. A ‘Last Christmas’ Christmas remix would be really great. Being his godson, I’m kind of nervous touching any of it. “
There was a long pause as Kennedy considered how releasing something so close to home would require an extra amount of attention.
I want it done right, I want to make him proud. It’s tough, it’s definitely a tough subject for me. Plus it’s pretty an emotional subject for me too. I didn’t get to talk with him again before he died. Had it been so many years, had he could have seen where I was now. Making music and doing all these things on television, maybe he would have reached out to me sooner. I do think about it all the time.”
He doesn’t want to remix one of Michael’s songs simply for the sake of publicity and making himself vulnerable for thousands of followers. His heart and respect for familial boundaries shone through and revealed a side of Kennedy that Vanderpump Rules fans may not have previously seen.
Your dad is a social media consultant with a lot of music experience. Does he work with you on any of your music?
“Ya, my dad has been a big supporter my whole life. He’s always given me his tips. He was definitely my manager throughout the whole beginning of my teenage years DJ’ing. He’s always had my back. He’s gone through the music business, gone through all the highs and the lows of it. He’s got a great opinion and a point of view to give me, I do cherish that.”
“I love him so much. He’s always been supportive of me and told me that I can do whatever it is I want to do,” Kennedy said with a slight smile and an admittance that his dad doesn’t sugarcoat anything, “He’s also very honest. If something’s not as good as it can be, he definitely lets me know.”
“Take Me Home” And 2021 Plans
You had a 2020 tour planned with a Vegas debut. Do you have similar plans for 2021, COVID permitting?
“We’ve got big plans. A North American tour, hopefully going to be hitting up Europe as well when COVID finally is over. But you know, I’m definitely just taking it day by day. I’m not really looking on planning a tour right now. I’m doing some gigs here and there. I played a show in Vegas smaller club like a month ago.”
However, he keeps the safety of his family in mind. He’s upheld his relationship with club owners and bookers and isn’t worrying about the future from that perspective.
“I think I had to cancel 60 gigs last year, so it was crazy. I’m not in any rush to rebook them…I do want to keep it safe and not put my family in danger. I recently lost my grandmother to COVID, it’s been a pretty tough time. It’s definitely real and apparent in my life.”
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“I’m really excited for the music that I’ll be releasing this year because I feel like I’ll finally be in a good place. I’ve got my sound that’s really come together and I’m excited. I’m sitting on a whole bunch of tracks.”
Talking about your upcoming releases, your single with Sydney Adams, “Take Me Home,” how did that come together? Do you plan to collaborate again?
“Absolutely yes. Sydney Adams, a very talented singer and songwriter. She reached out to me on Instagram. She sent me a clip of her singing and I was feeling the vibe. It was like a vocal, house, beach party, pool party type vibe. It started off with a piano progression, she came back with some lyrics, and we just kept bouncing back and forth. The track came together pretty easily.”
“It was really fun working with her and I love finding new talent, raw talent. When you hear a new sound on house music it’s like, ‘sh*t what is this?’ It’s like your brain knows you’ve never heard it before.”
The Los Angeles-based DJ explained that as most songs go, “Take Me Home” is based on the premise of love. While he doesn’t normally write happy tracks, this one turned out that way with Adams’ vocals.
“I think we wanted it to be something mysterious. Every time I go to make something it’s like a minor progression or something like that. Then I add the vocal on it and it makes it happier. That’s what house music has for me, it’s almost like an emotional thing.”
Do you envision the ideal location, anywhere in the world, that “Take Me Home” would play at?
“Oh, it was like in the galaxy somewhere. But here on Earth, Ibiza. Cafe Del Mar at 6:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon in Ibiza.”
He can’t see his life going anywhere that doesn’t involve DJ’ing or producing. The pressure of attention from the show and not being taken seriously because of his role on Bravo admittedly gets to him. However, his knowledge of the craft saturated the conversation.
In addition to his collaboration with Sydney Adams, Kennedy has another remix coming out. It’s called “Put The Mood Down” with his best friend Rob Upland.