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Artist to Watch: Mesita

By ; March 4, 2010 at 12:01 AM 

The Artist to Watch feature, will, in each installment, highlight a little bit of unsigned genius in the world at a time. For this month, we have Coloradan James Cooley and his solo musical project ‘Mesita’. We discuss his musical beginnings, writing process, influences and future.

onethirtybpm: How did Mesita come to form? Any high school band tragedies you’d like to disclose?

Mesita: I guess it’s just always been me just messing around in a studio with a bunch of instruments and equipment. I’ve been putting stuff down onto tape since like at least 2005, but it only really started to come along in 2008 when I started trying to write actual songs. I was trying to get something cool recorded so I could start giving it out that summer. I went with a bunch of friends to the sand dunes in Colorado and just got really inspired to record something really wild and open-sounding. I got a bunch of used equipment from a used music shop near my house in

Littleton and just started laying tracks down in Audacity on my laptop. I bought a trumpet I couldn’t play and recorded a power sander… It’s always just fun to mess around and see what happens from it! For high school bands… I was in sort of a cool collective with two of my good friends back in high school and we made some weird experimental stuff on laptops. We didn’t do much, but it was really fun! That’s where I started recording with Audacity because my friend used it, and since then I’ve just stuck with it. I tried to use Pro Tools but I always run back to the comfort of Audacity.

The latest Mesita single: “Living/Breathing”
<a href="http://mesita.bandcamp.com/track/living-breathing">Living/Breathing by Mesita</a>

What is your writing and recording process like?

Hmm… I usually just play around on an unplugged electric guitar late at night and discover different chords and piece them together… sort of keep putting things together and seeing how they work until I have a song basically all laid out. Then a lot of improvisation. Sort of let whatever I need to get out come out. Lyrics usually come separate, and I just sort of let them come to me when I’m in the shower or driving or wherever… often on bridges, for some reason! If I try to think of lyrics without them just popping into my head, they come out all forced and terrible instead of just semi-terrible… I’ve been really trying to work on my lyrics lately, that’s for sure! It helps that I have a lot of complicated things happening in my life… a lot of stuff on my mind lately. I can’t wait to get to recording the album that’s been floating ’round my head lately! As for recording, I usually wake up, make breakfast, get a cup of coffee or tea or something and sit down where all my equipment is. I end up attempting a lot of things, just pressing the space bar again and again on my computer and running to my drum set or whatever and trying to lay a good foundation down. After that, I just try and build it up with sounds that fit and really take the song away from being flat. I’m trying to get away from laying instruments down without them really adding to the song… I’ve had enough trumpet!

Do you see much room for a collaborative future with your music?

I don’t know! I know I want to keep things with Mesita just sort of me recording in a room somewhere for right now. I’m really stubborn and so it can get hard for me to work in a standard band setting. I like being able to just work when I can work and when I feel like I can really make good music. In a band, it always feels like you have to be on when everyone else is on… the give and take stuff… I’m just not that good at it! There’s also something relieving about knowing that you are responsible for the work you are making. No one else is going to have to pick up where you are being sloppy. I mean, I get in arguments with myself a lot, but there’s never any hard feelings at the end of the day… For live stuff, which I’ll hopefully be doing in the next few months, I wouldn’t mind getting one or two people to help me out, though. Definitely a drummer… but I would love to work with other people with other projects for sure! It would be great to be a part of a cool musical collective or something… It’s my dream to play with Broken Social Scene. That would just completely blow my mind. I don’t know, something like that… Guest on other band’s projects, that kind of stuff. Really contribute something new to a project and just be a part of something really cool with other people doing their own things, too!

What’s your biggest musical inspiration?

It’s pretty lame, but I have to say old video games are my biggest inspiration… outside of other music, I think… stuff like Destroyer and The Sea & Cake really hit me hard. I learned a lot of guitar from listening to The Black Keys. But I think I owe any musical ear that I have from growing up being a really little kid playing games like Zelda and Megaman… old RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy games, too. We had an NES and I would play all the way through Megaman 2 just to hear the Wily level music. Pharaoh Man from Megaman 4… Wave Man from Megaman 5… all the cool music in X4, especially “Final Weapon.” I’d play Chrono Trigger before walking to elementary school… just leave my house with a brown sugar poptart humming the Corridors of Time. And then Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past had so many good themes! The best game I’ve ever played. I don’t really play video games much at all anymore, but there will be times where I’ll be playing my guitar and all of a sudden just start jamming to the Dark World music. I don’t know… I really had a connection with the music in those games. I’d burn CDs of rips of the music from those games and sit in the back of bus in middle school rocking out to ’em. I can hum pretty much any tune from those games off the top of my head! Sort of a useless talent, I guess!

Official Mesita Website

Stream/Download Cherry Blossoms
Stream/Purchase No Worries EP
Stream/Download “Living​/​Breathing”

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