Burgos brews banger beats in his bedroom

San Diego local, Lames has earned fame as a self-produced musician
James Burgos poses with friends and fans at the end of a headlining concert in March 2022. (Photo Courtesy of James Burgos)
James Burgos poses with friends and fans at the end of a headlining concert in March 2022. (Photo Courtesy of James Burgos)

Twenty years ago, the concept of a musician “making it big” without ever leaving their bedroom would seem ludicrous. 

However, with the advent of social media, the possibility of achieving mainstream success without access to a recording studio or a major label has given rise to a genre known as bedroom pop.

James Burgos, also known as Lames, is a third-year marketing major at San Diego State University, and his self-produced bedroom tracks have earned him 358k monthly listeners on Spotify. According to the artist, much of his success can be attributed to the time he chose to start putting out music.

“I made a song at the right time and I put it out at the right time,” Burgos said. “I’m not going to lie, from an artist standpoint, COVID was cool.”

Burgos noted that during quarantine, people spent a lot of time stuck in their rooms. Due to those limitations, many people took to listening to bedroom music to find comfort in songs that reflected the confinement they were experiencing.

However, even before quarantine Burgos was drawn to the convenience and comfort of recording in his own personal space. Yet, despite his preference for privacy during the song-making process, Burgos does not like to separate his life as an artist from his personal life.

“I play my guitar, I DJ, I go hang out with my friends, I go to school – I do other things,” Burgos said.

James Burgos poses with artists Shady Moon and lilbubblegum, as well as producer SUPREME after a show in LA. (Photo Courtesy of James Burgos)

Music is just another thing that he enjoys doing, and he likes to keep his social media presence as genuine as possible. Due to his lowkey presence, his listeners typically don’t recognize him as Lames until they can make a direct connection, despite the popularity of his songs. In that way, Burgos remarked that his music “makes the world a lot smaller.”

“It’s really funny,” Burgos said. “Just seeing people actually listen to (my music). Because it’s all numbers, and then when you have an actual face you can match to it, it’s wild.”

Burgos leans into the lofi hip-hop subgenre of bedroom pop, which is effortlessly complemented by the deep and mellow tone of his vocals. The hip-hop sound also gives him a lot of room to weave personal and idiosyncratic elements into his lyrics, such as shouting out his friends from his hometown, Sacramento, or sampling the notorious FitnessGram PACER Test script. 

The latter is actually Burgos’ producer tag and appears in most of his songs. The decision to adopt the Pacer Test script started with a joking suggestion.

“Some dude in high school was like, ‘Dude, you should make a beat with that,'” Burgos said. “And I did it and I was like, ‘This goes hard.’ So I kept doing it and it caught on.”

Burgos noted that he couldn’t name any specific influences because he doesn’t try to shape his sound around anyone else’s art. However, the genres that he listens to include neo-soul, modern R&B, old school funk and soul music and, more recently, house music.

Burgos only likes to make songs that are fun for him to make, and he doesn’t necessarily adhere to trends.

“For me, at least, being really lax about (making music) and not pushing myself to the point where I hate it,” Burgos said. “I think that’s what’s allowed me to do it for so long. I’ve seen dudes get burn-out just trying to reach a number the entire time, but I’m going to do it because I like doing it.”

In addition to being an artist, Burgos has a PR internship Monday through Wednesday, attends classes and works at the L&L on the SDSU campus. 

With all of his commitments, Burgos can’t always find time to make music, and he usually likes to spend his free time mixing, DJing or hanging out with his friends or girlfriend. But given his lax production process, he knows that he can just hop right back into making music.

“It’s not like there’s a ramp-up period,” Burgos said. “It’s just, I click a couple buttons and I’m back on FL Studio.”

Burgos noted that once he begins making a song, it doesn’t take long for him to get the track prepared for release, noting that some of his songs “have fully been made within an hour.” 

Burgos’ ability to self-produce catchy tracks within a short period of time means that fans don’t have to worry about a lack of new content from Lames during his time at SDSU.

“I’m forever grateful for the position that I’m in,” Burgos said. “Steady 300 to 350,000 monthly listeners is crazy to me, and you never get used to somebody reaching out about it. You never get used to somebody DMing and saying, ‘Oh, I love your music,’ because it’s always crazy to me that people actually do.”

Burgos’ music can be discovered on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music, and to stay up-to-date with his music he can be found at @jurgosbames on Instagram and @thenameislames on TikTok.

About the Contributor
Sam Hockaday
Sam Hockaday, '23-24 Arts & Culture Editor