From Music to Movies, Keep Up With All Things James Maslow
Written By: Ameihia Turingan
Photographed By: Nick Isabella
Styled By: Neil Cohen James Maslow
Groomed By: Libbey Lazarus James Maslow
Singer-songwriter and actor James Maslow believes it is important to develop and redefine your identity. In the past year, Maslow has spent time recalibrating and setting the stage for the next decade of his career. He first achieved success early on as a teenager on the Nickelodeon show “Big Time Rush,” but now, Maslow has found his unique place in the world of entertainment and gained the ability to shape his identity and art. After more than a decade in the business, James Maslow is creating art that is authentically, unapologetically and unequivocally himself.
Maslow first discovered his passion for singing and acting in his childhood. After feeling like his artistic side wasn’t being developed in regular curriculum, he attended the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, where he explored different mediums of storytelling. “I wasn’t really sure of what my identity was, so I jumped into this performing arts school and found myself just falling in love with entertaining,” says Maslow. “I found that my passion really laid in being in front of the camera on the acting side and [pop music], instead of the musical theater and traditional choir genre that I was raised with.”
Pursuing his passion for acting and music led him to his 2009 breakout role in “Big Time Rush” and the band of the same name. This opportunity launched Maslow into stardom and the first chapter of his success. Post-”Big Time Rush,” Maslow took a variety of acting roles, from reality television to movies, and shared music, from LPs to covers on YouTube. In all these experiences, he gained valuable insight to his identity and the type of artist he wanted to be. “I’ve taken a real hard look at where I want to go, who I feel that I am as a person, what I want to talk about in my music [and] what acting projects I want to do,” remarks Maslow. “So much has changed in this past year, and I think [it’s] all for the better.”
To pivot into this new chapter of his life, Maslow started a music project called LTX. He co-created it with his best friend Eugene Ugorski (also known as Trifør), who is a producer and talented violinist that Maslow describes as “one of the most successful instrumentalists in the world.” The independent project focuses on electronic dance music and pop-dance music. While the duo has a combined 30 years of music experience, Maslow and Ugorski feel that LTX is their best work yet. “We’re having so much fun with this, and we’re dancing to it,” Maslow says.
LTX shared their new single, “Did You Forget,” on Sept. 13. When creating LTX songs, the pair found success when Ugorski began the songwriting process with instrumentation. “He’ll come with all the medley chords. It just sparks another train of thought [by] starting a song with such a high level of musicality,” says Maslow.
The focus on musicality works with “Did You Forget,” making the finished product anything but a forgettable track. You’re quickly drawn into the song by Maslow’s strong and impressive vocals that are full of conviction when speaking about a rocky relationship. Maslow’s confident delivery of the lyrics pair perfectly with the upbeat, catchy electronic sound that is weaved throughout the song. The engaging electronic beat, which take center stage at opportune moments, elevate the song into a danceable track that will make you move whether you listen to it in your car or live in a crowd full of people. The memorable hook and foot-tapping rhythm will have you saying “did you forget?” long after the song ends.
While the track is fun and danceable, closely listening to the lyrics reveals the passion and heartbreak that inspires the song. “Did You Forget” represents an experience that Maslow went through. He hopes the song is relatable to people who have felt like they’re giving more in a relationship than their partner. “‘[It’s about] that issue: did you forget where we’ve been and did you forget how much I love you,” says Maslow.
The pair aims to create unique listening and in-person experiences for fans by releasing new content and hosting live events. The LTX show in São Paulo, Brazil, on Sept. 14 demonstrated their vision to create incredible events that combine DJ sets and live vocals. “We may start [with a] DJ [set] and then transition to me singing over DJ-ing tracks and the electronic vibe,” describes Maslow. “Then [we] transition to a completely instrumental, traditional show with guitars, drums [and] keys.” Maslow hopes to emphasize this unique movement from turntables to stripped-down instrumentals by having Ugorski play the violin at a future show.
To inform his audience of new projects, Maslow often shares new developments through Instagram stories, YouTube vlogs and Twitter Q&As. While he enjoys being connected, Maslow is also learning how to navigate boundaries with his personal and professional life. “I’m continually allowing myself to break down these barriers in my personal life and the rest of the world,” he remarks. “When I started, there wasn’t this type of expectation from fans to be able to see directly into my…personal life—like my dating life. All that just didn’t exist.” Maslow was encouraged to keep those areas separate at the beginning of his career, but nowadays, he is becoming less reserved online. He hopes to bring in his fans’ input with the new music and projects.
Along with LTX, Maslow has started pursuing movie and television roles that are meaningful to him. He has a few upcoming films, including indie comedy We Need to Talk (which Maslow considers one of the best scripts he’s ever read), as well as World War II movie Wolf Hound, where he plays Captain David Holden. Not only did his role in Wolf Hound fulfill one of his goals to participate in a period piece, but the film was significant to Maslow because it allowed him to play a pilot whose storyline mirrors a similar experience that his own grandfather went through in the war.
As a multitalented actor and singer, Maslow shares the excitement and frustration that comes with pursuing both passions. He has balanced these interests for years and knows he will always do both in every stage of his career. He likes that his schedule does not allow for much downtime and enjoys the transition from set to tour. However, his extremely busy schedule sometimes means that he has to pass on interesting roles or auditions. To mitigate this, Maslow has plans for the future. “My long-term goal is to build up enough success in both lanes that allows me more freedom to dictate what I do and when I do it. And I think that’s the ultimate fulfillment—the freedom to choose,” says Maslow.
When finding new roads to fulfillment, Maslow has started to think outside of the traditional path an actor or singer takes. He recently discovered a passion for television hosting, and he really enjoys his host role on the CW talent show, “The Big Stage.” He will also be starring in My Boyfriend’s Meds which hits theaters Feb. 21. Before this experience, he never thought about doing nontraditional roles due to advice he received as a young adult.
“When I was a younger man, I had an agent, where when I was offered opportunities to host, [said] ‘No, no, no. Actors don’t host,’” remembers Maslow. “And in a way, I’m kind of grateful to have gone through that because it’s developed my opinion, which is [that] I highly disagree. Go out and do anything you enjoy and anything you’re going to be good at because people look at that and think, ‘Oh shit, I like that guy or that girl. I like what you’re doing here.’”
Maslow values curiosity, personal fulfillment and authenticity through this next phase of his career. He continues to explore new ways to share art and connect with his audience. With this new era, Maslow is energized and excited about what’s to come. While he is curious to see how his fans and the general public react to LTX, Maslow won’t measure success solely on others’ validation. “I just have to do what I enjoy. I just have to put out music that is authentic to me and write about things that I actually know and I believe in. You can’t put something out, going, ‘I’ll only be happy if this is huge,’” says Maslow. “No, I’m gonna put it out because I’m happy with the music [and] what I’m doing with my life. I’m happy [to be] working with my best friend, and I genuinely think it’s the best stuff I’ve ever done, so all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that other people feel the same way.”