Jon St. James is an American guitarist, songwriter–composer,
producer and recording engineer. His
Casbah Recording Studio was a
part of Orange County, California's new music scene in the late 1970s
and early to mid-1980s. St. James' first album was as
leader–frontman–songwriter of the progressive rock group French
Lick. St James was a pioneer of techno pop and dance
music, using Moog synthesizers, electronic effects, and tape loops.
St. James lived in France for two years, studying Musique concrète
with French composers.
There he first used
Revox A77 tape machines to create ambient
electronic textures. Upon returning from France, St. James started the
electronic pop group Q with Stacey Swain (Stacey Q), Dan Van Patten
from Berlin and John Van Tongeren. Q released one single, "Playback,"
on Cocteau Records, which was co-owned by Bill Nelson of Bebop Deluxe
fame. Q also released a self-titled EP on red vinyl in the US on
M.A.O. Records in 1982. Q later became SSQ and signed with EMI America
Records on the heels of St. James' recording the first Berlin album
Pleasure Victim. EMI signed St. James to a six-record solo deal. The
first single off St. James' solo album "Trans-Atlantic" was to be "The
Girl Who Seduced The World", which
David Bowie wanted for his album
Let's Dance. However, EMI America closed its doors
almost immediately after the release of the SSQ and Jon St. James
albums. St. James continued to do TV and movie work. He and Swain
Stacey Q in 1984 and released "Two of Hearts", which
became a worldwide pop hit on Atlantic Records.
As a producer and engineer, St. James led several influential
recording projects beginning in the 1980s, including records by punk
The Vandals and Social Distortion, as well as the new wave band
As a songwriter, guitarist, and producer, St. James helped to bring
the talents of techno-pop diva Stacey Q, the dance-pop duo Bardeux,
and the dance-pop artist
Katalina to a wide audience. In addition, St.
James has provided musical soundtracks for television and radio,
including projects for TV's St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, Malcolm
in the Middle, and Dawson's Creek, among others.
St. James moved into artist management and had his first double
Platinum hit with Candyman's "Knockin' Boots" on Epic Records. St.
James produced and managed the careers of several more Epic acts
including the Techno Pop acts
Anything Box and Red Flag. St. James
often played guitar, synth, and programming for new talent. St. James
also produced for Enigma/ Restless records and for a time had his own
label Synthecide, named after an SSQ song.
Early projects included sound-alike promos for Los Angeles radio
station KMET, an album of electronic music with a space navigation
theme, and a four-song EP featuring Stacey Swain.
The Casbah attracted a variety of talent, including The Righteous
Brothers keyboardist and session musician John Van Tongeren, Berlin
drummer, synthesist, and producer Dan Van Patten, Agent Orange,
Minutemen, The Adolescents, Rockabilly artists Rocky Burnette, Rip
Masters, and Christian glam rockers Stryper. After the success of
Better Than Heaven
Better Than Heaven album, St. James sold the Casbah to
Social Distortion and opened the new Formula 1 studio in La
Habra. F1, as the studio is known, has hosted a wide variety of acts,
including Allan Holdsworth,
Rusty Anderson of Paul McCartney,Los
Angeles guitarist Dale Hauskins of the Lucerne Swiss progressive rock
Flame Dream, The Vandals, Blink-182, Warren Fitzgerald, Josh Freese,
Jon Anderson of Yes, No Doubt, and Tenacious D.
St. James sold his F1 studio to Thump Records, a Lowrider
magazine-financed record label, for which St. James produced many
artists. Since then he built a new personal studio where he has
continued to record, write, and produce. Recent clients include Kung
Fu Records, The Warped Tour, The Used, Mike Ness,
Warren Fitzgerald of
Gwen Stefani, and
Jason Freese of Green Day. St. James continues to
develop young talent, such as the singer, songwriter, and producer
Trans-Atlantic (EMI America; 1984)
Fast Impressions (Enigma; 1986)
^ a b c "John St. James Bio," Archived 2007-10-09 at the Wayback
Machine. L.A. Songwriter's Network website. Accessed Jan. 3, 2015.
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