EXCLUSIVE: James Maslow Talks New Music, Goals For Age 29 and More

Remember Big Time Rush? The iconic four piece boy band consisting of James Maslow, Kendall Schmidt, Logan Henderson and Carlos PenaVega stole millions of teenage girls hearts by singing love songs on their TV show on Nickelodeon. They went onto to tour and sell out arenas over the country. As each member grew older, time would tell that it would be time to go their own way to pursue individual music careers. James Maslow, one of the more active musical members, has been releasing his own music since 2017 when he released his full length solo album called How I Like It. Maslow is back with new music now, most recently his single “Delirious.” ECHO had the chance to chat with Maslow at the 2019 Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro Event on the Radio Disney Stage.

Photo Credit: Will Heffernan

You just released “Delirious.” It’s definitely different from your recent solo work. Why did you decide to change your sound?

I’ve written all sorts of music before. I’ve written things that are more geared in almost a country way because that’s what I was feeling that day. I grew up riding horses and there is a side of me that it is that. For a long time, I’ve been trying to figure out what is that side that differentiates me. Everybody has got their thing. There are a lot of artists these days that are showing like a party side and getting f*cked up. That’s their vibe…and the tattoos. Do I like to party once and a while? Sure, of course, but does that resemble and reflect who I am as a person on a regular basis? No. It didn’t feel authentic. Do I want to get tattoos of my face and stuff? I’ve thought about it for real, but that’s not me. Talking about something that’s sexy. Talking about girls. Frankly, that’s always been my biggest thing. Thank God! Over drugs and alcohol and all that craziness. That song [“Delirious”] came pretty natural. Also, when I wrote it, I was in a relationship that was a ton of fun, but fundamentally it wasn’t right. But I did stay in it because it was fun. So I was inspired by some something. Even though it wasn’t  meant to be long term, it was beautiful at that time. It showed me, in a lot of ways, not only what I want, but I think also what I don’t want. It’s just me writing music that is authentic to me. It’s definitely sexier than stuff before. It’s not me trying to put it on. It’s honestly something I know better than a lot of the other worlds. 

Are you trying to be more vulnerable with your fans on this album versus your first album?

In the first album I was a little more cryptic. I was definitely metaphoric in a lot of ways. Now I’m just being a little more honest – on the nose. It wasn’t like I was hiding anything before, but I felt the need to be a little more artistic about it. In this day and age, I’m just gonna say what’s on my mind. It’s kind of freeing if you do that. 

What was your favorite part about filming the music video for “Love U Sober” ? 

I wanted to go very James Bond…GQ . I really wanted to blend my cinematic worlds – I’ve spent my entire life making movies and tv shows – with my music world. So I actually hired the director who did the huge World War II film I just finished last year called, Wolf Hound. I have four movies that are actually finished and in the can that are coming out soon. I’ve been very busy in the cinematic world. He shot the video just like a short film and I’m proud of it. The best part was getting to fly around in a helicopter. It was so damn cool. And then the next one for “Delirious” – I’ve changed my creative for this like five times. I’m probably going to shoot it this coming week. It’s going to be so different – specifically and purposefully much more artsy, much less a storyline and more just having fun – definitely sexier. It’s going to go along with the song. Be on the lookout. 

Since your last album, “How You Like It” in 2017, how have your as a person and an artist changed?

I’m definitely far less concerned about what people think about me. I think for a long time… my whole life I’ve been a very confident, but any artist anybody who cares about what they do is going to be concerned like oh shit is this good enough? Will people like it enough? It’s still there, but I’ve played enough shows – I’ve written enough songs at this point that I’m more looking at it this way now. I really hope people like this. I really hope people f*cking love it. But I’m more concerned about what I like or what I feel. And if they don’t, that all good. They don’t have to follow or listen. If they want to waste their time hating on it, it’s a f*cking waste of their time. But the ones who do are going to be so aligned with me because it’s going to be authentically on the same page. I think I’d rather have a smaller group of fans that are just in love with it than having to go after everybody because I don’t think I would anyways.

As an actor, do you find that music is a way to escape your characters?

It’s really nice to have the personal expression because when you’re acting even though you bring part of yourself to the character, you’re still playing somebody else. I’ve gone from playing a WWII hero to a murderer to an over the top comedy. All the characters are so fun and so different, but when I’m on stage, I get to just be me. So that’s literally my favorite part about music. 

Has acting taught you anything about singing?

There’s definitely a performance aspect that actors have that musicians often don’t: the ability to be still, funny enough. Like when I’m on stage, I’m up moving – I’m up dancing. Some of my favorite parts of my show are when I get to just stand there, sing, and watch. As silly as it sounds – it’s kind of simple. Even when I’m watching an artist, sometimes those are my favorite moments. When they’re not overdoing it. They’re just being present.   

You just turned 29. Happy Birthday! What is something that you would like to accomplish this year?

Weirdly enough, I’ve thought about that a lot recently. I’ve done a lot in my life so far. I’m very blessed. But now I’m almost even more motivated to see how much I can accomplish before I’m 30. So getting on the road – getting on tour on a more regular basis is already beginning. And I just really want to push that. I also have a side project that we’re going to be announcing here pretty soon, I’m sure; which is still my music. It’s still going to be singing a lot of the time, but even dancier and in someways more mainstream. I don’t know how I would put it, but it’s in the EDM world. I’m excited about it. It’s a huge thing that comes out in the next couple of months. That is going to be my biggest goal: to have it grow, prosper and really get going. 

What style will your new album be? What will we seem besides EDM?

I think I’m going to start blending it. Even my next song – I might put out as a combination. Like that group featuring me. Even though they’re both me. Yeah, it’s dancy. It’s the stuff that I like. It’s not going to be an album. I’m going to keep putting out singles. I’ll keep putting out singles for a little while and then see how I potentially want. Yeah, it’s going to be single, single, single “Delirious” is definitely more the direction I will go. 

You have a film coming out called We Need to Talk?Can you talk about it at all?

Yeah, it’s one of the four that’s in the can. “We Need To Talk” we just finished. I have no idea when it’s coming out. I think they’re talking about going to Sundance; which be cool. That means it has to be ready for October, I think. The cast is incredible. The script is f*cking hilarious. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. I went after that role so hard. I was like I want this. I had to really prove it to that director because I was not what he had in mind when he first wrote the character – basically the biggest YouTuber in the world for video games. He told me that he initially pitched the characters as some dude with a big beard, kind of fat, slobby and all that. Then he came to me after the audition and told me, ‘you fucking crushed it. If I cast you, I have to recast everyone in my head around you.’ And I went – thank you? Is that a compliment? But it all worked out very, very well. That movie reminds me of the movies that  I watched like Old School and Superbad – not in the actual story, but in the characters – the banter. Even the free reign we had as actors to improvise and mess around. I think it’s going to show through on screen. So I’m excited to see that one too. 

What is one inspiring quote that you would like to ECHO out to your fans?

There’s definitely a few that stick with me. My favorite one is success comes when preparation meets opportunity and that means that everyone will have opportunities. Some people will have more than others. That’s where life isn’t fair, but you’ll get one. Even if it’s just one, be as prepared as you possibly can be. Don’t just wait for it and then start preparing. No. Prepare now. Do what you love. Get better at it everyday. So then when that opportunity comes, you like holy sh*t, you’re actually pretty good.