Exploring Schaumburg native James Fisher’s works is a study in tranquility.
And while his feelings seem to govern a lot of his choices in his career as music producer ALIGN — how he feels has informed his show choices, colored his musical style and inspired why he got into music in the first place — it’s none of the raucous turbulence embraced by many of those for whom music is an outlet. ALIGN’s work is all serene beats, cloudless melodies and calming energy.
ALIGN’s new EP “Vista” showcases his uplifting but introspective nature through its five electronic tracks released Thursday.
“I’ve been exploring a handful of new sounds and trying to incorporate some different feels while maintaining that original flavor that I’ve been putting into a lot of my music,” he said of the songs that capture a mostly summery and light feel. “But I’m also trying to make things feel a little bit bigger and hit a little bit harder at times, too. And have a little bit more of a dance element.”
“And then, of course, incorporate some downtempo, more ambient and relaxed music in there as well.”
Ah yes, there it is.
ALIGN said his Chicago house-influenced musical style is to create songs built around how different situations affect him as opposed to capturing an incident or situation.
“I usually take that vibe and cling to that and write a song that’s centered around that particular feeling,” he explained.
“A lot of times when I do something like go to the beach or go hiking for a week, I come back with this newfound appreciation for something, so I usually take that general headspace and try and turn it into something.”
ALIGN’s musical experience comes in part from his time on drumline at Conant High School and noodling around on an acoustic guitar, both of which he still uses in his production process. But during his college years at University of Iowa, electronic music won him over.
He said he found the shows enticing, enveloped by the energy and the lights and the visual appeal.
“I wanted to do that,” he said. “That feeling I got when I was in the crowd, I wanted to be the person on stage providing that for people, to have people feel that with my music.”
And he has been. Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, ALIGN, who now lives in Chicago’s Wicker Park, played a steady stream of shows, collaborated with different artists and had song placements on television shows including “Lucifer” and an upcoming episode of “grown-ish,” all nods to his growing reputation and the way his music resonates with fans.
But now that venues are opening, he has a heavy lineup of performances across the country. ALIGN will be playing the annual three-day, outdoor Summer Camp music festival in Chillicothe, Illinois, when he joins other Chicago-area artists atop the GoodBus stage on Friday, Aug. 20. After that, he has two notable hometown shows: his second appearance at the North Coast Music Festival, slated for Sept. 3-5, and his very first Chicago headliner at Schubas Thursday, Oct. 28.
He admits there are bigger venues in the city he aspires to play, but headlining at Schubas was really important to him.
“The first time I ever played in Chicago was opening a show at Schubas. I had been trying to get on a bill a few years back before I had any traction or a manager or anything, and I was just cold-emailing talent buyers to get on a bill,” he said. “It just felt right to bring it full circle and play my first headliner at that venue. … It just felt like the right way to complete the loop. Doing my own live show with my visuals and all my aesthetics, it should be at Schubas, to pack the place and do a full all-original set of my music. I’m pulling out all the stops for this one to make it the all-encompassing ALIGN experience.”