Taurus M. James is genre-bending composer and drummer for the Gospel Jazz band, The Upper Room. He is very skilled in musical programming and arrangement and his music combines elements of Jazz, Pop, Classical, New Age, World, R&B, Hip-hop and Electronic.
Taurus' debut albums "Final Hour Music Volume One and Volume Two" along with his just completed album "My Soundtrack: Music from the Life Of..." are testimony to the depth of his art and his musical versatility.
With his band, The Upper Room: A Gospel Jazz Band, Taurus has delighted audiences with their clever mix of Gospel, Jazz, Funk and Hip-Hop in live performances. The band's debut album, Faith Walk is scheduled to be released in October 2004.
After 10 years of accompanying bands as a drummer, Taurus has emerged beyond the role of time keeper to incorporate his wealth of musical talents to present a very engaging and dramatic style of music for all to enjoy.
How did you choose your band name?
On The Upper Room...
"The Upper Room" was actually given to us in a church service, primarily because of the band's elevated position in relation to the congregation (we were in the upper corner of the choir stand). Initially, we thought it was a joke. However, the name has stuck with us ever since.
On the name "Kid Kikit"...
"Kid Kikit" was my radio handle while I was a DJ at the Air Force Academy radio station, KAFA. One upperclassman gave me the name "Kid" because I was the youngest DJ.
We later found the name "Kikit" on a clothing tag that one of the members of Bell Biv Devoe was wearing on an album cover. I kept the name after the Academy and used as my stage name for DJ-ing house parties and rapping with The ChillVille Crew in Tallahassee, Florida. Even now, I'm still the "Kid" who can "Kikit".
Do you play live? Where? Do you like it? Any special moments?
The Upper Room...
We started playing together during services held at Second Baptist Church, Ogden, Utah, to accompany the church's mass choir. We started receiving invites to do local gigs, but the band was really propelled forward when we were invited to perform at the First Annual Colorado Springs Jazz Festival.
We love playing live! It doesn't matter if the venue is a small gathering to a large festival. We love it when the people respond to what we have to offer.
How, do you think, does the internet (or mp3) change the music industry?
The internet and MP3s have completely changed the music industry! Sites like these are now commonplace and more artists are getting worldwide exposure. This also helps bring artists and fans together more directly to focus on the shared passion - the music.
Would you still sign a record contract with a major label?
Speaking only for myself, the contract would have to be VERY nice. It would have to be a real deal and not just a contract for legal slavery.
How I feel about record contracts is about like I feel about "buying" a home. It's a loan! I don't really OWN anything, someone else owns it. It just has my name attached to it.
As an Independent, I love the freedom I have to move as far in any direction I want. Plus, my passion for music is not hindered by anyone but me. Not to mention, I completely OWN what I create!
1981: Started performing publicly as drummer/percussionist/vocalist in one of many street "Junkyard Bands" in Washington, DC.
1990-92: Tenor, US Air Force Academy Cadet Gospel Choir
1991-94: DJ, US Air Force Academy Cadet Radio Station, KAFA
1992-94: Drummer, US Air Force Academy Cadet Gospel Choir
1992-Present: Songwriter - Lyrics
1994-95: DJ/MC (Lyricist), ChillVille Crew in Tallahassee, Florida
1997-2000: Drummer/Assistant Choir Director, Greater Galilee Baptist Church in Huber Heights, Ohio
1998-Present: Songwriter - Compose
2000-03: Drummer, Second Baptist Church in Ogden, Utah
2000-Present: Drummer/Lyricist/Composer, The Upper Room: A Gospel Jazz Band
Who or what are your musical influences?
Personally, I love Fourplay! Awesome band! However, my influences are so many and cross all genres. Big name examples include Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Genesis, Queen Latifah, Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, Debussy and Handel.
More personal influences include:
- Ms. Klank (my elementary school music teacher - formally introduced me to music)
- The Second Street Crew (Andre, Keith and John - my very first "junkyard" band);
- Mr. Clark (my 7th grade music teacher - taught me to play the clarinet);
- Joy Banks (taught me the importance of singing the Gospel message);
- Captain Adams (back then - taught me the importance of listening while playing with the band as a drummer);
- Icy Lee (taught me to always be true to who I am);
- BUC (Houston, Vic and Amp - showed me a Brother's Love when I needed it most);
- The ChillVille Crew (Rod, Nate, Sheldon, Art, Johnny and Gerald - helped me to experiment and create while DJ-ing and taught me that making mistakes in life doesn't make me a failure)
- Bill Miller (introduced me to Classical music and making music using a computer; also helped me find my voices of expression and showed me there's a galaxy of music out there)
- The Upper Room (Curtis, John, Deron, Marco, Ken - exemplify what it means to walk by faith)
- Trauna (believes in me enough to follow my dreams along with me)
The music I make pulls from them all.
Your favorite spot or city?
I've lived in cities all across the US. So far, my favorite is Layton, Utah. Great people and gorgeous country.
What equipment do you use?
I have an AMD 3.0GHz PC and I use Reason 2.5, Acid 4.0, Cool Edit 2000, and Sound Forge 5. I have a Yamaha DJX One keyboard and a Yamaha PSR keyboard that I switch between as my MIDI controllers.
I have a Yamaha Manu Katche Junior Kit that I have combined with a Pacific kit to create my ultimate stage kit. I play with 7A sticks (usually Vic Firth) and use Sabian B8 cymbals.
I have two Pioneer CDJ-1000 CD turntables (Yes, I sold out to CD after I left all my vinyl in Florida), Numark mixer, SP-202 and SP-303 samplers.