James Walker, aka Cake Walk, is one of those people who remind us why we love music. He’s got a quiet energy and vibe that radiates to everyone around him making him not only a great dance floor buddy — but an engaging performer as well. James got his start DJing with MMMMaven, a renowned music production program based locally in Cambridge, MA. From there he’s been making a name for himself on the East Coast by regularly playing shows in Boston and Brooklyn.
MMMMaven is a unique production program because it offers classes for DJs and producers interested in learning about how to make and perform a variety of electronic music genres. The program also runs it’s Make It New promotion every Thursday night at Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge. Over the past year Make It New has hosted popular DJs like J. Phlip, Maxxi Soundsystem, Eats Everything, and Soul Clap. Typically these shows are opened by one of their recent MMMaven graduates, which makes the experience authentic and refreshingly local. MMMaven is backed by the Boston-born tandem, Soul Clap — a Disco-infused House DJ-duo that has been spinning at clubs in Boston since the early-2000s. Soul Clap was heavily influenced by legendary Boston Disco DJ Caril Mitro who imparted on them that House music can “wear many hats” and shouldn’t be limited to one genre, style, or sound.
When prompted, James agreed that his philosophy about House music is in line with that of Mitro, which makes sense as he named Soul Clap as one of his biggest influences. This influence is clearly reflected in both James’ music taste and performance style. I recently caught one of Cake Walk‘s sets at the Candibar and was blown away by his fusion of a variety of House genres and tracks into one cohesive mix. I caught up with James a couple weeks ago to discuss his experiences so far and to find out a little bit more about what sets him apart from the pack.
When did you decide you wanted to learn how to DJ and what sparked the idea?I knew I wanted to take things to the next level after I would DJ at off campus parties back in college. A huge inspiration was my buddy Jim who is now known as JSTJR (mad decent, fools gold). He would play at the same off campus houses that I would later play at and now he is playing all over the world and just crushing it!What are some of your biggest inspirations and how do you incorporate them into your sets?My top 2 inspirations right now have to be no regular play and soul clap. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging with these guys and they’re all really chill dudes. No Regular Play is more of a live act with a DJ and a trumpet player/vocals. Their flow and transitions are extremely smooth and that is not easy to do with such a live performance like theirs. On the other hand soul clap represents more of what I like to play. They put out some tracks that just make you boogie no matter what & really bring that feel good funky goodness!You’re opening for Chus & Ceballos and Boris in a few weeks – what can we expect from your show?I’m absolutely ecstatic to be opening up for them! You can definitely expect a truly memorable night for sure. Awesome music with even better vibes! C & C always bring the heat when they come around but having them going B2B with Boris is just an absolute treat!3 out of the 4 openers for that show are involved with Project Mixx. Could you explain what Project Mixx is and how you’re involved?Project Mixx is all about having a good time and just spreading our passion through music. We really try and bring all different types of crowds into one big dance party where you can leave your problems at the door for a couple hours and just boogie! Even though I contribute to Project Mixx mostly through DJing and the musical aspect, it also focuses on art & community. We are always looking to expand and collaborate with other artists of any kind!You’ve played a lot of music in Brooklyn. What are some of your favorite venues to play?I’ve played a couple times at what they call the “penthouse” in Brooklyn. It’s a rooftop with an amazing view of the city and instantly has turned into one of my favorite places to play in the summer. My favorite venue that I’ve played at has to be Middlesex lounge though. It’s a perfect sized room in my opinion where it’s just enough room to either dance alone or get down with some homies.How about your favorite venues to attend a show at? The Mass Musings Tribe is a big fan of Output, what are your thoughts?My absolute favorite venue for now has got to be the Brooklyn mirage. That place really just blew my mind, it was like a tropical island in the middle of the city. Also they get their sand from the beaches in France and I mean cmon, that’s just absolutely absurd but in the best way. Output is easily top 3 favorite venues, I’ve seen some of favorite artists there and just always have a huge smile walking out of that place as you know!
Would you rather, have the munchies for the rest of your life and not be able to snack? Or continuously sneeze for 2 hours every morning?Wow that’s a great would you rather first of all. I think I’d have to go with the sneeze just because I’m always munching and also can easily get hangry. The sneezing thing also might get me out of a lot of stuff that I don’t want to do like a meeting or something. If it was the hiccups though then that’s a totally different story.