Dirty Dozen: Chris James

Singer-songwriter Chris James unique blend of stunning cinematic-folk on his new EP Space In The Clouds, is out now via AWAL. The EP is about overcoming a difficult, dark period in his life and musically James combines influences from his days as lead singer songwriter of electro-rock pioneers Stateless with folk and modern electronica.

Space In The Clouds begins with Chris talking to his younger self through a time lapse with DM Stith (Sufjan Stevens) playing the counter voice. Throughout the EP, his compelling vocals take centre stage, complimented by the combination of intricate folk and synth sounds akin to the likes of Björk, with epic atmospheres reminiscent of Sigur Rós.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I live in London, but I grew up in Leeds. I’ve been working on a new project which is more folky and minimal than the music I’ve done in the past.

How would you describe your music?
I would describe my current music as cinematic folk. It’s rooted in folk, but I’m also really into films and film music so it’s heavily influenced by that.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
I have loads of influences… musically on this project, the influences are Leonard Cohen (I was so sad to hear the news of his passing), I completely love him. Bob Dylan, is one of my all time favourites. Nick Drake, I still listen to most days. I grew up listening to John Martyn, especially his folk stuff. Two of my biggest musical influences are Kate Bush and Bjork, for lots of reasons.

What are you currently promoting?
‘Space In The Clouds’ EP came out Dec 9th 2016.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
Space In The Clouds feat. DM Stith, is one. I met DM Stith when he was in London working on his incredible new album. I was introduced to him by Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond, for whom I wrote a duet that we recorded together called I’m On Fire (Stateless). He quickly joined her in my list of favourite artists. I was really over the moon to record with him as well, and he’s one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet. Shara is lovely too. I feel very lucky to have worked with them. They are both ridiculously talented artists.

What are you currently listening to?
Olivia Chaney ‘The Longest River’ is phenomenal, it really is a masterpiece in my opinion. If you don’t know DM Stith, listen to Summer Madness off his new album. Also, his first album Heavy Ghost is really a largely unnoticed masterpiece, as well. And listen to My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden, she’s got loads of stuff you can dig through. She’s amazing.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
That’s a really tough question but ‘The best of Leonard Cohen 1975’.

What are your hopes for your future career?
I just did an AV show in Camden with an award winning visual artist called Exceeda. I love what he does and I’d like to explore that concept more. The crossover between atmospheric minimal music and film is an interesting one for me. I also want to continue to make albums but in the live sphere, I really want to explore the relationship between music, film and visual art.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
I guess a larger scale audio visual project. Combining music with visuals, then also live performance and with an audience is exciting. I’d love to have enough budget to allow people like Exceeda to allocate more time to it, so we could try to push it as far as it can go.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Being able to express feelings that you can’t explain with just words and engaging with other people.

And the worst?
The stress of paying the bills!

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
Do please check out ‘Space In The Clouds’ EP – I hope you enjoy it.

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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