Vaines // Interview

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Los Angeles alternative/indie musician Vaines is an artist on the rise! Born James Gaines, he adopted the moniker Vaines before embarking on his music career. Towards the beginning of last year he released his emotional debut track “Nobody Like You”, coming onto the scene with the sound of a seasoned music veteran. Gaines was born in Ogdensburg, NY with his mother but spent some time throughout his childhood with his aunt and uncle in Toledo, OH. He had a tumultuous childhood, due to his mother’s drug addiction, leading to a strained relationship between the two. In order to cope, he channeled his loneliness into creative energy which led hi down the path of music. In 2017, with only $200 of home studio equipment and plenty of ambition, he moved in with a friend in LA to jumpstart his music career. "Nobody Like You” was mixed by Serge Courtois (Nick Jonas/LANY/Bebe Rexha) and mastered by Joe LaPorta (Shawn Mendes/The Weekend), showcasing his talent with the tracks dark, ethereal, bedroom-pop vibe. Having also released “feelingdown” and his most recent single “Medicine”, it’s safe to say that he heading towards a bright future! You can follow Vaines and stay up-to-date with all upcoming music and tour dates via the following links. Check out his latest track “Medicine” below.


You grew up in Ogdensburg, NY and experienced a difficult childhood due to your mother's drug abuse. You also spent time with your aunt and uncle in Toledo, OH. These experiences fueled your creativity and led you to start writing music and becoming involved in the local music scene.  What was it like for you when you first experienced music as an outlet?  How do you feel that it helped you to cope with the difficulties you lived through growing up?

I don't think I saw music as an outlet really. It was just something I loved doing. Looking back, it was really the only thing that comforted me at the time. I didn't really have friends, and the ones I did have weren't the best. Music was the one thing I had that gave me a sense of self-worth because I was so good at it so early on.

What was your local music scene like when you were growing up?  Do you feel like it helped you to grow as a musician?

Me and my friends were in a pop band playing in a metal music scene. We weren't ever accepted and we didn't draw at our shows. It thickened my skin, if anything.

You have grown to develop a deep love for the guitar.  When did you start playing and what drew you to the guitar as opposed to a different instrument?  Who are some of your favorite guitarists?

Guitar was the first instrument I learned. My dad bought me a Kramer Focus 211S for Christmas when I was 12 because I was really good at Guitar Hero. When I was younger I fell in love with Eddie Van Halen and Slash, real shreddy 80s guys. Nowadays John Mayer is my dude. I watch his Instagram videos daily.

In 2017, you moved to LA and stayed with a friend.  What do you like about LA and the music scene there?  Had you always planned to move to LA at some point or was it more of a spontaneous decision?

I had a conversation with my manager about moving to LA at some point, and then suddenly one day I was on a plane. The people here are very weird and I'm still adjusting. This whole place seems a little out of touch with reality.

You write, record and track your songs yourself on $200 worth of home studio equipment.  Are you self taught, with regards to recording and tracking music?  What has that process been like for you in doing everything yourself with your music?  Do you see yourself adding new equipment or changing the way you make your music altogether in the future?

I downloaded FL Studio on my dads computer when I was 14. Back then it was still called Fruity Loops, and I had Fruity Loops 8. I'm self taught with everything I do. I think that makes the whole experience more personal and real for listeners. I still work off of the same studio equipment but I'm absolutely upgrading that soon. I care less about the narrative surrounding the music than the music itself so anything I can do to improve the sound, I'll do.

Who would you count as some of your biggest musical influences?  You combine a lot of different genres when writing songs.  What is your writing process like and do you find it challenging to combine so many different genres into your music?

I draw influences from the things I listened to when I was younger. Top 40 radio from the early 2000s, classic rock, rnb, etc... I don't find it hard to mix everything together. Naturally, I gravitate towards the guitar and I'm good at making R&B style accompaniment. I tend to use a lot of popular trap sounds in unconventional ways also, which contributes to the sound as well.

You worked with Serge Courtois and Joe LaPorta on your first single, "Nobody Like Me".  I read that you never actually met them in person, though.  How did you come to work with them and what was the experience like?

Working with Serge and Joe came about through my management team. They do really solid work with my stuff and I'm really stoked to work with them.

You made a Spotify playlist recently with Madness To Creation.  You mentioned that it told a story on how different artists use their style to create a mood.  What kind of mood do you feel that your style conveys?  You also said that guitar-focused playlists help you to work through things when you get stuck on a song you are working on.  How do you feel these playlists help you to regain focus?

I'm all over the place with my sound and I think only time will tell what kind of mood my music will convey. As far as listening to playlists, I think just hearing a wide variety of songs can help me find my creative center. Every song has an element to it that I enjoy and just hearing tracks and pointing those elements out just helps me steady my aim.

What can you tell me about your latest single "Medicine"?  Having released a few singles at this point, do you have any plans to release an EP or full-length album in the near future?

Medicine is such a cool song for me because I get to showcase my talents. It's a guitar showcase, it's poetic, it's my favorite song I've worked on as far as production goes. It's all my favorite parts of making a song coming together at once. I have plans to release more music but nothing is set in stone.

What's next for you?

Just keep an eye out for new songs.