We all know a little confidence is needed to perform artistically, however, at times an artist’s inflated ego can impact on a meeting or interview. This is most certainly not the case with the gentleman James Harris. It has been my pleasure to meet Mr. Harris on a number of occasions. So asking this amiable singer-songwriter from the Black Country about his art was as easy as organising a party in…
Music is clearly important to you, who was the inspiration for your musical journey personally?
The first artist that made a big impression on me was Adam Ant, when I was 8 a friend played me a cassette recording of Stand & Deliver, I was instantly hooked and have been a fan ever since. Adam inspired me to want to be a singer but I never really related to him as a songwriter or performer, I love his work but what he does is quite alien to me. It was only when I discovered John Lennon and the Beatles, at 16, that I suppose my musical journey began. I could relate to Lennon’s writing and performing style and was inspired to start writing songs myself.
You have certainly been prolific in the last couple of years, why the impressive catalogue of musical output?
Thank you for saying so. It’s funny, I’ve written songs off and on for years, but up until July 2020 only had a handful, maybe 10 or so that I felt were that good. I think that 2020 being such a difficult year and also spending a lot of time alone at home, brought a lot of feelings to the surface, like a lot of people I felt there was an immediacy to things and an importance, if you want to do something to do it now while you can, because none of us know what’s around the corner in life, as the pandemic brought home to us all so starkly. I hadn’t written anything in quite a while and wasn’t planning to write songs but in late July 2020 the lines came to me for the chorus of 2020 Blues, I remember the date as it was a couple of days after Peter Green had died and I mentioned his passing in the song. Writing that first new song was like taking the cork out of bottle, the rest of the songs just flowed from there on. I was writing every day for about a month and then carried on writing a few times a week into the new year when I finally ran out of steam and felt I’d said about all I had to say for now. I wrote about 65 songs during those 5 or so months. I recorded most of them as home demos in December 2020 and after taking a break from them I recently revisited the recordings and have complied a number of albums from them that I am steadily releasing on my Bandcamp page, I’ve released 2 albums (and an EP) so far and have got another 3 waiting to be released. They are just albums of home demos/rough recordings but I think they capture the spirit of the songs and I really want to get them out there.
Not content to be known just as a singer-songwriter Harris is as flexible in his artistic endeavours as the front-benchers are at swapping their political departments…although James Harris is prepared to put the work in!
I know you are an actor and can be found hosting local open -mic nights but ultimately what would you like to achieve with your lyric writing and song writing?
Yes, I’ve recently got back into acting work and that’s something I really want to do more of. But musically, I plan to continue writing and recording songs myself and to release my own albums independently, but at the age I am now, I doubt it would be viable to launch a professional career as a recording artist. I think some of my songs may have commercial potential though, so I’m currently looking into getting a music publishing deal with a view to other artists recording my songs.
Are there any stand out tracks you are proud of on your albums you are particularly proud of?
To be honest, I don’t think there are any particular ones. I like all of the tracks, they wouldn’t have made it onto an album if not, and I think they are all strong in their own way. At the moment Lockdown Christmas is going down well live, for obvious reasons, and that’s one I’d originally put in my “song bin” folder when I was writing them, so I guess I’m not always the best judge. It’s nice hearing which ones other people like. As the current crop of albums are all home demo recordings, I plan to re-record some of the songs at a professional studio in future. I’ll see what feedback I get on the songs to help decide which ones I’ll re-record.
Do you have a plan for your musical creativity long-term?
I’d like to take it as far as I can. As I mentioned before, I plan to always release my own albums independently but I think my best chance of any real commercial success would be getting my songs to established artists to record; which is something I’m currently looking into.
I know how keen you are to share your song writing, consequently, would you encourage any like-minded singers or collaborators to get in touch with you?
Sure, why not. I’m not really looking for anyone to collaborate with at the moment though, but certainly if any singers or bands wanted to cover any of my songs, then I’d be happy to hear from them.
With someone as modest as James Harris I didn’t mind asking a leading question…
What is the best compliment anyone has paid you for your song writing?
After a gig recently where I’d done a set of all my own songs a woman told me that she felt it was like I was channelling the songs from somewhere. I liked that as that’s how I felt when I wrote them, they just came to me, they were written really quickly, without any effort at all. One song even came to me complete while I was in the bath. Just started singing Swept Away and the whole song was there instantly.
Where can we find your music James?
Bandcamp: James Harris Music jamesharrismusic.bandcamp.com
Facebook: James Harris ~ Acoustic facebook.com/james.harris.acoustic
YouTube: JH Music https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSxfWoRGSKb0yhKpNRXkTKw
If only all interviews were conducted like this!
By: The Swilgate Scuttler