One pleasure of being a journalist in Hollywood is working with creative, inspiring people. At the top of my list is Tim "TJ" James, one of the musical wunderkinds with the Santa Monica-based production outfit Rock Mafia.
In addition to being a writer and producer on dozens of major hits over the years, the former recording artist turned producer also sings the vocal track on the new Rock Mafia song "The Big Bang," the dramatic video for which premiered on E!
I first met Tim, and became fast friends with him (if you're wondering what the camera-shy producer looks like you see a glimpse of him at 1:26 in the "Big Bang" video), nearly three years ago when he and producing partner Antonina Armato were wrapping production on several Miley Cyrus hits, including "Fly on the Wall" and "7 Things (I Hate About You)." Conversely, here are "7 Things I Don't Hate About Tim James"...
1) HE LOVES THAT FANS THINK A GIRL SINGS "THE BIG BANG"
"I love that people think Miley sings on it," he tells me."Miley came into the studio and hammered out the song for fun, but the end result is only my vocal. I love it. Androgony is the key to many a great pop record."
2) HE'S HUMBLE
Rather than put himself in front of publicity for "The Big Bang," Tim opted to let Miley be the face of the project: "I am simply into great music and working with great people. I am not in it for anyone but that. Miley is the amazing actress who helped bring so much attention to it." Tim, who was signed to a major record deal as a solo artist right out of high school over ten years ago but opted instead for a producing career, adds: "We are a team and do whatever it takes. I love singing and love going in the booth and letting the song live, but it's about the song, not about me."
3) HE WEARS SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT
I've spent hours with Tim, day and night, both outside and inside their windowless recording studio. I've witnessed firsthand he is that rare guy who is cool enough to pull off wearing shades at the mixing board.
4) HE WROTE THIS LYRIC
If we walk down the beach tonight/I bet we could light up the sky/The Big Big Bang/The reason I'm alive/When all the stars collide/In this universe inside
5) HIS "BIG BANG" PHILOSOPHY
When I ask what "The Big Bang" is about, Tim unleashes: "To me, love. But songs should mean everything to everyone. It is the magic of music. But to me "The Big Bang" is about how we are all just trillions of atoms bound together and "The Big Bang" is the impetus for when we are compelled to love and create. And the universe inside is truly the only universe we are in control of. The rest is chaos. Your personal Big Bang moments are the moments you live for and are worth remembering. That is why we are alive. It is about when you meet the girl you fall in love with and 50 years later remember every single detail about the moment you met her. Your universe is born. Or maybe you've been heartbroken and that memory is seared vividly into your brain. A lot of fans think the song is about sex, and that is another Big Bang moment so why not? I like the literal interpretation. I love it. Sure. It means everything to everybody. They are all Big Bang moments, the reason we're alive. And the more you have, the more fulfilling and interesting lives we have."
6) HE LOVES WHEN MILEY EAVESDROPS
Miley ended up starring in the video because, one day at the studio, she overheard Tim talking to the director about the video. She was working with us on "Can't Be Tamed" at the time and was listening to our conversation and looked at the treatment for the video and said, 'I would do this. I love this song! It is totally cool.' And the rest is history. She is a brilliant artist."
7) HE MAKES TRAUMA SOUND COOL
Of the violent car crash in video witnessed by Kevin Zegers' character, Tim says, "The crash represents a trauma. He may or may not have been there when the car accident happened. But either way he is reliving the loss. It's like if someone has an affair on you, or someone dies, or is in an accident, even if you weren't there you relive it in a million ways. You relive the emotional attachment of love, and it is similar when you lose someone in a tragic accident. He is reliving something traumatic."