James May, a.k.a. JmAY, was just a kid when he discovered the complex world of music. A classical pianist at heart, the Kansas City, Missouri native was never formally introduced to classical greats like Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, or Bach---it wasn’t a popular form of music among family and friends.
Despite the lack of exposure to the classical genre, JmAY was constantly playing classical melodies in his head, and by the age of 10, had taught himself several popular classical tunes, including: Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata; its popular first movement and virtuoso third movement, Fur Elise, several pieces from J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, and Frederic Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, just to name a few. Without access to a piano at home, JmAY practiced his craft diligently after church services at St. James United Methodist Church.
“I can remember hearing many different classical songs in my head, all the time,” he says. “Looking back, most of it was Beethoven but at the time, I didn't know whose it was. I truly believe from my heart that God imprinted these melodies in my mind. Short phrases became full songs, and I would literally teach myself anything I was drawn to,” he says. "
But, despite his love for classical sounds, music production, composition, and arrangement never crossed his mind.
That is until he received a Roland upright keyboard with synthesizing and sequencing capabilities. A gift from his father, the keyboard provided JmAY with an opportunity to hone his production skills, improvising on old classical pieces and creating new ideas and rhythms from them.
"It was like second nature, I started to be able to come up with complex rhythms, beat box em', input them into the keyboard's sequencer, and I surprisingly was pretty good at it."
“Pretty good” quickly turned into “pretty great,” and by age 15, JmAY had created a unique sound blending classical melodies with vocal sounds and hip-hop drums. His primary influence?
“Timbaland,” he says without hesitation. “The way he puts his songs together, the sounds he uses—everything about him is fearless, creative and unique. He is the reason why I’m not afraid to take chances with my music.”
At 24 -- still up-and-coming, JmAY strives to make a name for himself with his musical ambition and one-of-a-kind sound.
"Hard-hitting drums, beautifully, technical yet melodies, and the drive to continue to revolutionize a stagnate music industry is what I have to offer,” he says. “I'm not afraid to try new and exciting things to get my point across musically. More than anything though, I want people to realize the beauty in classical music and it’s relevance to music history."