We had the good fortune of connecting with James Tate Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James Tate, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Some people might say I’ve taken too many risks, but all those risks have gotten me to where I am today, which I’m incredibly grateful for.
After I graduated high school, I moved to LA to play in bands and work odd jobs in the entertainment industry. Not to go the traditional route of college or to learn a trade was a huge risk, one I’m sure my parents still aren’t sure about. However, I’m happy that I took those risks because I have incredible stories, and have learned so much about the wild world of Hollywood.
The thing about risks is that it helps if you have some awareness of the reality of the situation before you take them. If you move to LA to be an actor and no one’s ever told you you’re a good actor, and you have no professional experience than that might not be a well-calculated risk. On the other hand, if you enjoy writing and telling stories, and your friends are always asking for you to tell another tale, well then writing a book or a screenplay could be a pretty damn good risk to take.
Isn’t everything we do in life a risk? There’s risk in something as simple as going to a restaurant. Perhaps your meal won’t be up to par, or maybe you get food poisoning. But with that risk, you might meet your future soulmate, or be inspired by the dedication the chef has put into their creation.
I wish that everyone would take more risks they’re not comfortable with. I know our world would be a better place, and maybe even more enjoyable because of it.
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.
To me, art is a way to truly enjoy something, while also learning, even if you’re not aware that you’re learning. Maybe you watch a movie, and afterward, strive to be more like the main character. Maybe you look at a painting of flowers and next time you look at a real flower, you look at it differently, truly seeing the beauty of it.
With my songs and stories, I aim to do this. First and foremost the goal is to create something enjoyable, but if there’s some sort of message I can slip in that might bring about growth or positive change in an individual, I do my best to do just that. Even if it’s just a short line in one of my songs.
I started out playing in punk rock bands, trying and failing to sound exactly like the bands I grew up loving. At a certain point, I realized there was no future in being a weak copy of a band or artist. I wanted to be the only one, to somehow mix genres, themes, and imagery that hadn’t quite been done before.
That’s what I constantly strive to do. Have I accomplished that? It’s up to the audience to decide, but I believe it’s much more interesting this way, both for me and for the listener.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My friend’s here for a week!? I honestly wouldn’t know how to entertain for that long, I could probably last a few days, then I’d have to set them loose. But I’ll talk about a few of my favorite places that I believe my “friend” would like too.
A day trip (or longer) to Joshua Tree National Park – I try to drive out to the desert at least once a year, hopefully, more. When I’m there, it makes me feel like I’m on another planet. I love to go camping with friends, scale rocks, climb mountains, and roam the desert all day, thinking about the people and animals who were there before. There’s no running water or electricity in the park, so the stillness and stars at night are wonderfully overwhelming.
I’m not a big drinker, but if we were to indulge, there are a few places I would take my pal:
The Roger Room – An old Hollywood vibe hidden behind an unassuming entrance.
The Bungalow – I know it gets a bad rap, but if you’re from out of town, this place is a scene to check out.
If my friend likes dive bars, I’d take them to Hinano in Venice or The Galley In Santa Monica.
I’m an incredibly picky eater, partially because I have a lot of allergies, and partially because I’m always trying a new diet. Some “very LA” spots I’d take a friend are:
Erewhon – A friend once said that this place is like a runway show since so many attractive people shop there.
Bulletproof cafe – Who doesn’t like butter coffee?
Gjelina – One of the best restaurants in LA, just blocks away from where I live. They source their ingredients from local farmers.
Lastly, I’d drive them to all the different areas of LA. Maybe take Sunset Boulevard from the east side all the way to the coast, then we’d have to drive down the PCH because that’s the best drive in town (when there’s no traffic).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many awesome people I’d like to shout out to that have helped me along my current journey. Way more than I could list, but here’s a few recent ones that come to mind:
Jimmy Keeley, a constant collaborator and friend (music producer, mixer, and engineer) who has been incredibly helpful in shaping and perfecting my sound. To listen to some of his work, check out the artists Carr and Bel.
Riley Smith is a super talented music producer from Australia I’ve been fortunate to be working with lately. I’m constantly amazed how he can create such great production for a song so quickly.
A few others are Colin Oh, who was the cinematographer on my last music video. Holly Greenway helps me stay on brand, and nudges me back on course when I stray too far. And my many friends like Taryn, who is gracious enough to take photos of me for social media when we hang out so I can keep the algorithm gods happy.
For the horizontal photo: Eric Shin For the sepia photo: Michael Rodriguez All other photos: Kathleen Ginsberg