Making a Comeback
Promising Musician gets a Second Chance
Greenwood native James Meiser knows all too well that it’s a tough road to the top. He’s still paying the consequences of poor decisions he made starting over a decade ago. As a result of DUIs, his driver’s license was suspended. Being without it has been a challenge, but James takes full responsibility. “The troubles I got myself into were my fault. I have accepted that,” he says. “The changes I had to make to reform my life brought very difficult challenges. It was not easy for me to look in the mirror and finally see what everyone had been so concerned about.”
James says he has definitely learned his lesson. “I am never going back to that lifestyle of feeling like a criminal. It showed me that I needed to grow up and be a productive citizen.”
James’ highly-promising career as a musician started at five years old. One day on the car ride home with his mother, he heard a piano ballad he liked on the radio. When they got home, James sat down at the piano and began playing. “Honestly, I don’t know how I knew how to play,” James says. “I can’t explain it. I heard the song in my head, and I just understood how to replicate it. It’s like an artist who sees a picture one time and can draw it without having any training.”
Recognizing this special gift in her son, James’ mom enrolled him in piano lessons immediately. But piano lessons didn’t quite suit his style. “I hated lessons with a passion. I liked it when I was left alone to do whatever I wanted to do, which was write.”
At six years old, James won first place in a statewide musical competition. He wrote his first piano ballad at seven years old. It was at his first recital when he felt called to pursue his real passion. “When I finished, I got a roaring standing ovation,” he says. “People just launched to their feet. That confirmed to me that I should pursue my heart for writing music.” By the age of 10, James had played at venues throughout most of Indiana.
By middle school, he decided to focus strictly on composing. “I would hear music in my head all day long. I’d go play it on the piano and see what I could do with it, sounding out on the keys what I was hearing in my head.”
At 14, James was introduced to electronic music and became consumed with the new-found sound. “There are many different types of music under the ‘techno’ label, but I fell in love with ‘progressive trance’ because for me, it covers everything that I look for emotionally in music,” James says. “You can go to bed listening to it because it’s very relaxing. You can dance to it. You can listen to it if you’re sad. It is the one kind of music that I could count on as my go-to comfort.”
Although he continued to write piano ballads, DJs became his inspiration. James began his career as a DJ at house parties and came up through the ranks. His career took him all over the country and overseas. A typical gig was playing in a lineup of DJs for crowds of 40,000 people.
Describing it as the most beautiful feeling in the world, he says, “It’s just you up on the stage, and you’re having a great set. People are going wild. The pulse of the crowd is my favorite part. There is nothing more beautiful than to watch 40,000 people react to the touch of your fingers. When I’m up there, I see unity, power, and precision of movement. It is very much an adrenaline rush and, for me, a spiritual experience. I often find myself being emotionally touched.”
James hopes to help break the most common misperceptions about DJing, one being that DJing is easy. “There is an absolute art form to DJing.” He describes the turntables as his instrument, like a guitar is to a guitarist. “A DJ has 110 things going on simultaneously to make it happen. I’m mixing while I’m looking at my computer, doing my effects while scratching a record and loading the next song, watching the crowd, thinking three steps ahead, and going through my list of 80,000 songs to see what’s going to be best to keep the crowd going.”
James is unique as a DJ in that he plays some of his own music when he performs. His first full-length album, Bellesun, will be available this summer on iTunes and SoundCloud. “The album definitely takes you on an emotional journey that you can relate to your personal life.”
James is passionate about running Studio 77 LLC (studio77music.com). Established in 2009, he serves as Owner/DJ/Producer along with Joseph Franklin (DJ Iron Lion). They lead a team of eight DJs who perform at weddings, in clubs, and do everything from promotional jingles to movie soundtracks.
James’ last five years without a driver’s license has made performing around the country a hardship that he never wants to repeat in his life. He is happy to say he is no longer that person, and faith has played a huge role in rebuilding his life. “I give all the credit to God and the people in my life who never gave up on me including my wife, my parents, and my senior pastor. They did so much for me when I was a burden.”
After all these years, piano is still James’ first love. “I consider piano God’s gift to me as an outlet,” he says. “If I have a bad day, I’ll come home and pound away on the keys as a way to get my emotions out.”
Through all the ups and downs, James says he wants to give back in his own way with the gift of music.
For more information, contact James Meiser, 317-755-7723, or visit studio77music.com.
Katelyn Bausman is a lifelong Southsider. She is a freelance writer/editor and handles communications and event planning for an international ministry. She and her husband, David, enjoy calling Center Grove home.