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Meet James Craft of Craft Music

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Craft.

Thanks for sharing your story with us James. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
World Citizen. That’s basically me before LA. I was born in France and lived in France, Romania, San Francisco, New York, Sacramento. My parents shaped me. They loved music, the arts, international culture, diversity, travel, and language.

I’ve made this my profession and lifestyle. The professional scope of me is music. It’s been there since I remember my father playing Mozart on the other side of the wall when I was still sucking on a pacifier. I committed to a professional musical life about fifteen years ago. That happened in New York City, where I wrote songs, sang, and played in the band, La Strada. It was life-changing. La Strada taught me the power of collaboration.

We traveled the US and Canada, met all kinds of wonderful folks and cut three albums that still make me proud. We pulled from African pop, Bollywood, American folk, and rock music. Then I moved to San Francisco to study composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Older teachers took me under their wing and helped cultivate my creative dreams.

String Quartets were written, along with an assortment of notated work – including the symphony UR. I pulled from modern minimalist style, western harmony, modalism, Ghanian drumming, and even Indian classical music (which is one of my first loves).

I started to notice a pattern to my interests. And a double musical life began. San Francisco is where I started to teach music, and to develop a teaching methodology. This has a grown into a boutique, in-home teaching studio here in Los Angeles – Craft Music. But more on that later. As a composer, I sought a place for all my passionate study, so I went to USC to study for one more year.

The film composition program at USC was extremely intensive and only a year long. We wrote music fashioned for media. And I started to learn that delicate balance between full-bore creative expression, and the form and function of film music. But school was, for me, isolating, and film composition, then, was solitary; I began to miss a community of artists and students who were pursuing music for music’s sake.

So I created one:
Craft Music is a teaching studio based in Los Feliz and offers high quality, in-home instrumental lessons to students young and old. We try to speak to the enthusiasms of the student and to foster a musical community. We’re at almost one hundred students now and growing strong. I’m thankful to be around such creative, talented teachers and students. It’s a great day-to-day lifestyle.

Now as a composer, I have the profound pleasure of collaborating with a community of talented musicians, composers, and directors. I find collaboration to be the spice of life. Every film or piece I work on will always have someone’s creative hand in it. What makes me happiest is walking away from a finished piece of music knowing I could have never created that alone.

Collaboration breathes warmth and energy into my compositions and brings notated music off the page. Being able to play for Angelenos and to enrich this vibrant, passionate city is my utmost wish.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The true obstacles for me have been not knowing how to get what I want and not, in effect, having faith in myself. Sometimes I needed the world to nudge me in the right direction. At one point I was assisting a composer. We did not sync, and we parted ways. But I kept searching, traveling, making mistakes, and eventually, I found my niche!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Craft Music – what should we know?
At Craft Music Studio we work to compose music with musicians, programmers, and producers to create tailor-made scores for documentaries, video games, commercials, and feature films.

At Craft Music, we focus on teaching music as an expressive language and creative outlet. We want our students to be intrinsically motivated to learn and play, and we know that music has a transformative effect; We are here to be a catalyst for your musical and personal growth. We offer lessons in piano, guitar, violin, saxophone, drums, trumpet. We are a tight-knit community of passionate teachers.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My father has stood by my side, even when I devoted myself to the less traditional path of music. His love of music and endless curiosity has had a profound effect on me. My aunt, an actress, devoted herself to the arts young and, for me, that was always an option in a family of non-artists. She helped me take that risk, and picked me up when I was down.

My wife has encouraged me to take risks for the lasts eight years. And her passion for the violin (she’s a concert violinist) encourages me to continue to try new things, and keep fresh!

My artist friends encourage me to do same; they show me that, in the words of Robert Frost, the path less traveled by makes all the difference.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Zandy Mangold

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