We had the good fortune of connecting with James Goins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, why did you pursue a creative career?
In all honesty, I think the creative part in me made the decision to pursue this career. My journey, as in everyone else’s journey is different than what you might expect and perhaps maybe not so different. When I was young, I was introduced to music through my godfather who taught me piano until he passed away. He was the one who planted the seed. He ignited the musical gift in me. From there a fascination with theatre grew, then musical theatre, then writing, directing, and finally film and film scoring. The addition of the other art disciplines seemed a natural progression and one I would continue to cultivate, grow and participate in until now. To be clear, I had a 24-year teaching career while pursuing my craft so I always had a financial base from which to work. Some would say that was cheating. To that, I would say, “no, that was wise,” especially when you have a wife and children to feed and a mortgage to pay. But at some point, you have to leave safe harbors and head out to sea. So, in 2007 I retired from teaching and put my creative dreams on the line. By many, I would be considered a latecomer. I was 44. At that age, many in those creative fields had already established their careers but I was in essence, just starting. Even though during my time teaching, I still got scoring gigs on independent films, directed a lot of theatre, wrote music for an award-winning musical and, pinned 2 musicals of my own. I even went to UCLA at night to complete my education in film scoring. So, the pursuit of an artistic career shaped my early decisions to make sure I could focus completely on just that, later. And now that’s all I do now. As you see, my journey in pursuing this career, like everyone else’s is different.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am what people have described as a hyphenated artist and that’s what I think sets me apart from others who have a singular focus. That’s how I am wired. I came out that way. But I don’t think that is unusual. Many singular-focused artists have other skill sets but choose not to put them on the same level as their dedicated gift. I’m most excited about some of the creative organizations I belong to and the friendships I’m making. I’m also excited about my newest album release coming in the late Spring of 2021 called The Return. I’m working with some incredible artists right now. In terms of my career, I would say it has taken years of focus, a solid work ethic and a great deal of patience. As I mentioned earlier, my journey took a different route than what many would consider the ideal one. It wasn’t easy, because many of my friends who decided to jump into their creative careers are further ahead in terms of work product. That used to discourage me but what helped me to overcome that was where I placed my priorities, which was family first, then career, although my wife would dare to argue that a little. But in retrospect, it all balances out in the end. I liken it to the Benjamin Button scenario. I chose a path that would have me arrive at my destination a little late, which has worked for me. Others chose a path that had them arrive early and that worked for them. The most important thing to remember is consistency and patience always brings success. Those two traits encompass all the other things we love to hear about like perseverance, courage, tenacity, passion, brilliance, genius, etc. These things I learned from teaching children and raising my own as life was silently instructing me at the same time. Also embedded in those two traits come, character, humility, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. My personal motto is “I believe perseverance dictates that every person arrives at their desired destination exactly on time.” I hope my story will help inspire those whether young or old to understand that your creative or artistic journey should never be measured by those you see around you. Your journey is your own, your personal success will never be measured by or against those you perceive are where you’d like to be. Determine your path, make a choice and keep moving forward. You will arrive, based on the energy you put into your career, exactly where you desire to be.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, one of the first places I’d take them is a wonderful Gastropub called Father’s Office in Culver City. The food is incredible, and the beer selection is second to none. The next day we’d hang out at Descanso Gardens it a 150-acre botanical garden located in La Cañada Flintridge. Great place for outdoor concerts, picnics and to walk around and get centered on what matters. Very peaceful. Perhaps the next day we run over to Abbot Kinney Blvd and check out the shops and galleries. Then we could grab some amazing Cuban food at Versailles Cuban Restaurant. One of the best, to me and the wifey! The next day we’d head on over to the Watts Towers, my old stomping grounds. I used to work at the schools there in the area. It’s changed over the years from the ’80s and ’90s but it’s important to see. Then we’d have to eat at Watt’s Coffee House It’s the best damn Soul food in LA hands down. (Okay, people don’t get mad because you have your favorite soul food joint. If you haven’t been to Watt’s Coffee House, you’re just faking the funk! There I said it.) The next day we’d need to run over to the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. That’s where you can take your time and admire some great art and chill without super large crowds making feel you have to keep moving. After a few hours there we’re headed back to Culver City to get some Honey’s Kettle Chicken. I’m not even going to tell you why you need to have this chicken. If you’ve been there you already know. If you haven’t, let’s just say I feel very sorry for you. So sad. Then we’d end the week at Zuma Beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To take a direct quote from Terrence McNally, “There is no way you can ever, ever possibly thank everyone who should be thanked.” That being said, I apologize to all 7,000 of you for not giving you a shoutout, you know who you are. I know who you are and I should be listing your name. Shoutout to my wife Delayna Goins of 32 years who has always believed in me. Mom (R.I.P) and dad (who just passed in March), who paid years of music lesson tuition when money was short, and sacrifices were made; attended plays I wrote or directed and told me they were great even when the reviews injured my psyche. The UCLA Film Scoring Program and its teaching staff who taught me the value of craft. They taught me my craft of film scoring would overcome people’s perception of me as a composer of color and that the real power in scoring for film is in listening.
Delayna E. Goins