Production and Artistry with James Gabriel Morales
James Gabriel Morales, one half of the production duo known as THE ELEVEN, is a dynamic force in the production world. As a producer & a songwriter, his journey has intertwined with themes of industry know-how, the power of collaboration, and intentional artist development. Xposure Music’s Sydney Hubbard sat down with James to explore his journey and successes in the music industry.
A Musical Background
James' love for music, a familial inheritance, was shaped in a household where his father was a Latin percussionist and his mother, a vocalist. From an early age, he was exposed to a multitude of genres, including salsa, Latin jazz, gospel, R&B, and soul, honing his skills by playing keyboards in church and drums at school. This passion for music steered James towards Berklee College of Music. As a drummer, he earned a scholarship to this prestigious institution, where he further refined his craft. It was at Berklee that he delved into music production, music business, and A&R, sectors he would later professionally pursue.
The Genesis of THE ELEVEN
After leaving Berklee, James teamed up with his brother, Matthew, to form THE ELEVEN, a New York City-based production duo. During the time of their inception, many creatives in New York City began migrating & moving to L.A. However, the group wanted to showcase their pride in being born and bred New Yorkers, which led to their unique name.
The name THE ELEVEN holds several significant meanings to the production team. While New York State's historical significance can be identified as the eleventh state to join the union, the number eleven also symbolizes man's highest creative force under divine influence, a notion that resonated deeply with James.
Getting Their Big Break
Despite starting with no connections to songwriters penning the hit tracks on the radio, THE ELEVEN began creating impressive instrumentals. Their disciplined work ethic led them to the studio daily for seven months, treating each day as a booked session. This phase was both fruitful and enjoyable, eventually grabbing the attention of James’ college friend Nils Gums, who would later become THE ELEVEN’s manager.
Nils shared THE ELEVEN’s tracks with an A&R at Sony music publishing. She recognized their talent, noting that the tracks already sounded like full records, a rarity when sending instrumentals to an A&R. With the excitement and support from both the A&R and the President of Sony music publishing, an instrumental sent to Pitbull received positive feedback from the artist, marking the start of a new relationship with THE ELEVEN and Sony Music Publishing.
During that time the production team also produced the track “Rum & Raybans” that would be announced as Sean Kingston's comeback single. With this momentum, L.A. Reid, former CEO at Epic Records, proposed a deal to advance and purchase five songs from THE ELEVEN, a testament to strong belief in the group’s talent. With a co-sign from Pitbull and a new single with Sean Kingston, their entrance into the mainstream music scene was solidified. THE ELEVEN has gone on to work with Jennifer Lopez, Tinashe, Bea Miller, Celine Dion, Meghan Trainor, JoJo and more.
Creative House and TikTok’s Driving Force in Music
Lately, James has been working with his team in a collaboration that has blossomed into Creative House LA, an agency in partnership with Tik Tok for artists, producers, and management to work together under one roof. This exciting environment inspired them to sign and develop the artists they are passionate about, often musicians coming from the realm of social media.
When Nils, James, and his brother Matthew crossed paths with a talented artist named Stacey Ryan, the initial meeting was more of a casual get-together rather than a strategic session to add talent to Creative House. However, James recounts how the casual hang and conversation quickly evolved into a songwriting and production session that eventually birthed the viral hit "Please Don't Text Me When You're Drunk." The song reached over a third of TikTok's one billion user base, making Stacey Ryan a phenomenon and bringing Creative House LA to the next level.
Following their success with Stacey, TikTok approached Creative House with a proposition to collaborate on talent that both parties were passionate about. This conversation marked the start of their journey towards expanding from being a production and management company into a label and artist development agency. Their first and latest signing is artist Sophia James, who you can check out here.
The success stories and achievements of Creative House highlight the tremendous impact of social media platforms like TikTok on the music industry. They have become an essential tool for talent scouting and audience building, providing creatives with unprecedented reach and visibility.
Advice for Young Producers
When asked about advice for young producers, James emphasizes the power of consistency in creativity. He believes that today's creators can reach more people than ever before as evidenced by social media platforms. He encourages young talents to follow Creative House's example.
"If you're active & consistent on platforms like TikTok and you’re creating & sharing out of who you are, eventually it'll get the attention of the right people. Those people can create opportunities you never saw coming."
He adds, “That success and time where someone takes notice will all be because you had the faith to pursue and create when you thought no one was watching."