Where producer James Poyser writes hits for D'Angelo, Common and Erykah Badu
Technology has made telecommuting a possibility for a range of professions, even musicians. Producer James Poyser’s home studio is lined with Grammys and awards. Raised in the church, music came naturally and early to Poyser, who is able to spend plenty of time with his own family thanks to his home studio. In partnership with Cadillac, The Pursuit looks inside Poyser’s studio where he produces hit records between spending time with his family and playing piano with The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
When James Poyser receives a compliment he involuntarily laughs with a sharp exhale, as if expunging the praise and giving it back to the world.
Though he may not himself be a household name, he’s written melodies that stick in your head and play on the albums that make you dance. Poyser doesn’t name drop and he doesn’t brag. As a piano player for The Roots, recently he’s been thrust into the spotlight, or at least the studio lights, on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.
Poyser says it’s been interesting to learn about show business, about camera blocking and “how the lights shine off of a bald head, and what makeup has to be on my particular one,” he jokes. In the end, though, “It’s just about playing music,” he says. “It’s doing a lot of gigs without getting on a plane.”
It’s important to Poyser not to be jetsetting. When his son was born eight years ago, Poyser and his wife moved into a house with plans to convert the basement into a home studio. Though he takes periodic breaks to head upstairs and visit his family, he keeps a photograph of them framed at his desk. “I like to see various stages of our lives together, to see the family progressing in life,” he said. “That picture was taken last year and I look at it and say, ‘Wow, look how tall my son’s gotten since then!”