James Wolff, b. 1982, began the study of music and composition through the Skaneateles, NY elementary school system. In his youth he studied with Dr. Joseph Downing of the theory department of Syracuse University, completing the undergraduate theory requirements as an early teen and composing and performing for the Encore Music Festival in Ohio. Was a member of the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra and studied viola at Ithaca College with Debra Moree and later with Dr. Joseph Holland (IAA). Attended the Interlochen Arts Academy concentrating in composition and conducting between 1998 and 2000 and graduating with Honors. Earliest period of performed compositions in the catalogue are marked by IAA and are an unaccompanied viola sonata, a cello and piano elegy, and the chamber orchestra work “Green Lake” which was conducted and recorded with the Interlochen Chamber Orchestra.
At the Peabody Conservatory of Music, studied with Grammy wining composer Nicholas Maw, Christopher Theofanidis, and Randall Packer for inter-media studies at Johns Hopkins University/MICA. In 2001, continued a growing discography with the premier of string quartets, viola sonatas, and additional chamber music on the Peabody composition departmental recitals. Works including an electronic orchestral multi-media ballet production “Tonasphenia” which was programmed with selections from minimalist composer Philip Glass’ opera classic “Einstein on the Beach”. Participated on the Visages multi-media art team and is the former electric violinist/keyboards of New York based band Kiss Kiss (Eyeball Records) from 2004 – 2005.
Formed the music band Motion Commotion (Piermont Records) completing several EP releases and a 7 track CD engineered by Jessie Cannon (The Cure, Dillinger Escape Plan, Saves the Day) with national tours garnering outstanding reviews in music industry magazines for 05/06. Previously employed as an independent booking agent with Lower East Side Productions, NY, and worked at Ishlab Studios inBrooklyn as a recording engineering intern with responsibilities including engineering, production, and A&R research. Past performances include Knitting Factory, CBGBs, Crash Mansion, Pianos, and the 2007 CMJ NYC Music Festival.
The Scary River project started in October 2007 after relocating from Brooklyn, NY to Baltimore, MDafter recording the Super Volcano EP for the 2007 CMJ NYC music festival to finish his Bachelors degree in Composition at Peabody Conservatory. Began working with Adam Scanlon in an atmospheric shoe-gaze duet project with keyboards, violins, guitars, and delay pedals creating what would become a signature textural sound for the group. In January of 2007 relocated to the Copy Cat building in Baltimore and began preparing a new 7 track EP at the Black Rock East Arts Collective asScary River (Book Eater, 2008).
In March of 2008, created a partnership with Lance Williams to develop the artist management firm FOCOTHEORY. With eight active roster clients at the time, the Pittsburgh office quickly expanded generating positive returns and allowing for the establishment of a NY office and a Baltimore branch. In October of 08, after a steady stream of member rotations and continual shows, Scary River solidified itself into a cohesive ensemble while James started working with the Phoenix Music Group (EMI) for Grammy nominated composer Shawn Campbell who has written and produced tracks for Chris Brown, Missy Elliot, and others. In 2009, James attended SXSW on a two month and three thousand mile national tour to promote Scary River and the self released 2009 “Live EP” album with distribution through Morphius Records.