After years of wanting to collaborate together, NEKO X JAMES have officially teamed up to produce 4 out of this world singles. Their first release, “Automatic” premiered at the end of March and has gained the attention of new and existing fans. You can check out “Automatic” here.

The inspiration behind the recent collab was simple; Both NEKO X JAMES which is made up of multi-platinum producer and songwriter, Erik Lidbom, and K-pop star, James Lee, agree that they just wanted to have fun, hang out and write great music. “We tried to have no restrictions in terms of musical style, genres or what was going on on the charts,” says NEKO. JAMES comments by adding, “I also wanted to get away from writing dark songs. I thought it would be an opportunity to change the direction from my previous project, “The Light” EP.”

Having come from a musically inclined family, NEKO mentions that he learned to play the piano at a very young age thanks to his father, a multi-instrumentalist. “I was introduced [to] a lot of classical music,” says NEKO. Like NEKO, JAMES also grew up around music, “My dad likes to sing and play songs on guitar with tutorials from YouTube,” he says.

As for the “start” of this project, both members agree that it came quite naturally. “We got to know each other from JAMES’ time in Royal Pirates in Korea, and ever since we’ve been keeping in touch,” says NEKO. “I’m just lucky we’ve stayed friends for so long,” adds James.

Although their adventure as a duo started just recently, JAMES tells us that, “It was just a matter of time before we wrote together. Writing together in LA just happened to kick things off.” Having separate solo careers NEKO comments, “…once we started the collaboration we knew we had something great going.”

From their recent project, NEKO and JAMES both agree that the upcoming track “Mad” is one of their favorites. “This track felt the most honest lyrically,” says JAMES. “Instrumentally it has so many awesome details in the production, which makes it fun to listen to over and over again.”

Believe it or not NEKO X JAMES only met two times to produce this project, which goes to show the focus and dedication of the artists. “JAMES came to Sweden to finalize the songs for this project, and we both knew that that would be the best and only chance to wrap it up,” says NEKO. Granted the duo collaborated over the phone and via things like Skype, but it is highly impressive that after only physically meeting twice they could produce such a kickass collab. “The internet makes anything possible and production is infinitely easier than ever before,” says James. Originally, the duo had seven songs, but since narrowed it down to four singles. Perhaps some unreleased music in the future? We’ll see.

“I feel like writing with NEKO can be a continuous project,” says JAMES. “He is so quick with track production and has such a clear vision for direction that it makes collaborating an absolute breeze and pleasure.”

Keep in mind that both NEKO and JAMES are solo musicians. Aside from this collaboration, NEKO, which is the stage name of multi-platinum music producer and songwriter, Erik Lidbom, is based in Stockholm and JAMES is a former band member of popular K-pop act Royal Pirates. For both artists, this project proved to be different from anything else they’ve released on their own. “I felt myself grow a lot as an artist during my time in Sweden,” says JAMES. “Also, it was my first time writing in Europe so that was definitely different for me.” NEKO adds in, “I usually work for other artists and labels, writing and producing songs that suit their requirements. This time, we made music without any restrictions.”

According to the duo, the toughest song to produce on the recent collaboration was “Automatic.” “It set the tone,” says NEKO. “We went back and forth many times (online) to fine tune and fix the details.” JAMES also comments with, “It was the most challenging, but definitely worth it because the song is fire.”

Pursuing a career in music can sometimes be a bit daunting. But with the right mindset and overall dedication to the craft, a musician’s success is as a great as the amount of work they put into it. “Work harder than others, and write music you actually like,” was advice that has always stuck with producer NEKO. Singer JAMES adds, “Quantity will lead to quality. Writing and finishing as many songs as you can will lead to writing better songs.”

As for what the duo has learned on their own? Well, that’s a different story. When asked what advice they would give to an up and coming musician that is trying to “make it” in the industry, NEKO says, “When looking at the people that enjoy success in the music industry they all have one parameter in common – they have been working HARD. Long nights, early mornings, and a great love of music.” James expands more on that idea with, “If you really know you love music, don’t give up. Keep grinding and be open minded.”

Stay tuned for NEKO X JAMES’ next release “Mad” coming out May 10th. For now, check out their recently released single, “Automatic” featuring Travis Atreo here.

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