James Scott, Stones Throw Records
💭 Thoughts on Peanut Butter Wolf, Roland’s SP-404MKII, and living in & in awe of LA’s music scene.
Thought Enthusiast is an AdHoc Project where we chat with fascinating thought leaders across various facets of music, tech, and culture whose work we admire, simply asking “what’s on your mind?” and “why do you care?” 💭
James Scott works as Project Manager for Stones Throw Records. Born and raised in Washington D.C., James studied Social Work at Elon University and joined the Peace Corps after graduating. He got his start in music working for the 9:30 Club in DC and throwing house shows featuring a cast of burgeoning artists including Yaya Bey, April & VISTA, Cautious Clay, dreamcastmoe, Overcoats, Triathalon, and many more. He moved to LA in 2019 and has been working for Stones Throw Records since 2020.
🎧 Current focus
We’ve had some stellar releases on Stones Throw this year from Kiefer, Mndsgn, Benny Sings, Sudan Archives, John Carroll Kirby, Pearl & The Oysters, NxWorries, and others. It’s exciting to be able to promote music that you’re a genuine fan of. I’ve admired Stones Throw since I was a kid so I feel particularly lucky working for such a legendary organization. The label has been consistently releasing quality music for 25 years and has no signs of slowing down. It’s a really fun place to work, a perfect balance of work and play.
🌴 Living in & in awe of LA’s music scene
I’m so impressed by the musical community in LA right now. There is such a deep and rich scene happening and I’m just happy to be witnessing it. There’s concerts every night, whether it’s a house show (I recently saw Xin Xin and Lionmilk in a living room and it blew me away), a show at Lodge Room in Highland Park (where I got to see my favorite band Azymuth), a daytime park show (Leaving Records has a wonderful monthly music in the park series called Listen to Music Outside in the Daylight Under a Tree), or epic events at the Hollywood Bowl like the recent Pharoah Sanders celebration. I'm just living in and in awe of LA.
One of my favorite artists right now is 3L3D3P. My girlfriend Luna, who's cooler than me, introduced me and we’ve seen her live a couple times. One of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, she’s a force of nature. I’m surprised she’s not being talked about more.
Chris Manak aka Peanut Butter Wolf has been a major mentor of mine over the past few years, I really appreciate his respect for music and his approach to working with artists. Music and business don’t always mesh because they can have different agendas, but Wolf is good at balancing both and has been doing so for decades. I really appreciate his generosity and sense of humor. His vinyl weighs a ton literally, and I’m thankful to have been able to browse through a tiny sliver of his collection at Gold Line Bar.
📝 Looking at your life as a series of poems
I’ve been shifting away from the mentality that your life should be a novel with a certain arc to it, building up towards something in the future. I’ve found it better to look at your life as a series of poems strung together by moments of happiness. That shift has allowed me to live more present and it’s brought more gratitude and spontaneity into my life.
Stones Throw just teamed up with Roland to make a custom SP-404MKII which is pretty dope. The limited edition SP-404MKII comes pre-loaded with sound banks featuring new music from J.Rocc, Sudan Archives, Mndsgn, Kiefer, and DJ Harrison. Stones Throw and Roland have deep cultural roots so it’s been awesome seeing this happen. It’s a dream team collab.
🎨 Treating campaigns like full scale art projects
The marketing landscape is always changing with new tech, and while I do believe it’s important to keep up with the latest tools to spread the word, I also think it’s important to treat a campaign like a full scale art project. So beyond the music, how can we add dynamic and supportive context to bring fans closer to an artist? I’m of the opinion that campaigns don't necessarily need to be high in budget, but I do think they need to be high in concept. There’s so much you can do to market a record, the possibilities are sort of endless, but I think the goal of a campaign is to reflect and project the fingerprint, heart, and soul of an artist and if that’s done interestingly and authentically it’s bound to resonate.
Follow James on Instagram.
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