James Craft

Age: 40

From: Sacramento, CA. Born in Paris, France

Music Field: Film Composition

Job Title: Audio Mapper/Revisionist for “Breadwinners” at Nickelodeon

Favorite Coffee Drink: Cold Coffee with Stevia Droplets and Cream

"There’s this great quote I learned while acting, from this Russian guy name Konstantin Stanislavski. He said, “only put as much energy into the action as required”. I’ve followed that all throughout music. It’s not about you-it’s about the action, and just perform the action. Let everything else go and let it be what it is. As a composer, I think one of my most wonderful moments was when I was writing some string quartets during my masters degree. I had worked on a couple of movements, and I was really happy with them. I had spent time chiseling away at them and tried to emotionally go deep enough to feel like I was really saying something that mattered. Then I got to this one movement, and I decided that I would just write down the first thing that came to my head and go with it. So, I literally just started writing down and I didn’t censor it at all through those filters, like wondering if it was deep or meaningful, and then after a little bit of tweaking, in a very short amount of time I had an entire movement. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it was this sweet and playful little thing and I hardly put in any effort. I simply was just this passive human being that was writing down whatever came to my head, kind of like with talking. I just thought it was amazing, and if I could do that all the time, that would be an awesome life."

How do you define Inspiration? How do you define motivation?: "It’s a complicated place for me because right now I’m working 9-5 for Nickelodeon so there’s not much room for inspiration right now, or I’m not getting much of it. What inspires me is listening to music or talking to people who are in it for specific reasons. People who have a foot in the tradition and a foot in the present and they’re trying to do something that honors everything that they have learned or are still learning. At the same time, those people can address what’s happening now and say, ‘wow, all this music that I’ve studied and been a part of has been amazing, but I want to do something authentically mine, and I want to somehow work in this world.’ To me that’s the place of inspiration. As for motivation, it is different. That’s the thing I’m still trying to figure out, because what motivates me now is simply making a living by being in music. That was my first criteria, and that’s why I came to LA. But I think it’s changing. That was a motivating factor, and probably the next thing is something that I deeply care about in music, and make a living doing that. I think motivations change, but I think inspiration seems to more or less stay the same for me. I’m surprised I said that. I had absolutely no idea what to say, but that’s the truth."

Advice to others: "Accept where you are and know that you've made all the right choices up until now. I also meditate and exercise. If I don’t meditate or exercise, then my frustrations build up and there’s no release for me."

Life Mantra: "Right now in my life, it’s just follow your breath and relax. I do what I need to do that helps me be healthy day by day. The mantra will change over time when it has to change, but for now it’s just breathe and do."

What is your opinion on success? Do inspiration and motivation play a role?: "Totally, yes. I think inspiration leads to make decisions that are out of the box, like deciding to be a musician. You get inspired to do it, and that leads to the motivation. When you’re inspired you want to be a part of something, and when you’re motivated you want to make those things your life and make those things part of your world. But defining success is something that I struggle with, especially being in LA. My definition of success right now is writing music and getting paid for it. But at the same time, I’m just going to talk this out, I have been paid to write music and it hasn’t quite felt like success, you know? It has to resonate on some level of what I value personally. And you can’t force people to need or want something that you value, but I think some measure of success is when there’s some sort of relationship between yourself and the people who listen."