James Parry lives at the other end of the Earth in Hobart, Tasmania and writes independent folk-pop songs. Soft echoes of his island home can be heard in his stories of lives intertwining and colliding. His songs feature sparkling guitars, cool organ and deft drums, over which his searing vocals deliver colourful lyrics packed with subtle details for the sharp listener to unravel.
Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I live and work in Hobart, a really quite stunning city that is growing up before our eyes, culturally speaking. It’s interesting to watch. I juggle full-time work and songwriting, so the songs come slowly. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to live in Bali for ten months without having to turn up at a day job every day. It was really nice to have that space and I wrote a set of songs that became my new album In The Lights. In the last few months since launching the album I’ve been playing a few gigs in different cities around Australia, and locally at some summer festivals (it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere).
How would you describe your music?
I like to build my songs with lots of layers of music and meaning, so that there’s always something new to discover with every listen. At the same time, I like to get that tight pop production sound into my recordings. I often describe it as storyteller pop.
Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
I would say one of my main influences has been The Shins. Their songs have great cryptic lyrics, lots of sparkle, lush layers of sound and killer vocal hooks. Others include Sufjan Stevens and Radiohead – I love a beautiful melody combined with world-class production.
What are you currently promoting?
I’m really proud of my new album In The Lights. I put a lot of work into the structures, the lyrics, the production, the artwork, everything. I’ve made the album available as a digital download, and you can get a set of really, really nice art cards to accompany the download – I took the photos for those too – or you can get a vinyl pressing of the album. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to get my music pressed on vinyl!
Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
I love the song Emerson Rush. The story unfolds almost in real time along with the music. The lyrical style was inspired by the lyrics of an American artist called Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. The content was inspired by my hometown of Burnie, a small town that fosters some peculiar, high-pressure social dynamics.
What are you currently listening to?
Roses Always Die by Sarah Mary Chadwick – it’s honest and raw and I like it.
And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens – it’s heart-breaking and absolutely stunning. I like that my all time favourite album was released only 2 years ago.
What are your hopes for your future career?
It’d be nice to work my day job a little less and write and record music a little more. I’d also love for lots of people to hear my album ‘In The Lights’ – I feel like there’s a lot in it for people to connect with.
If money were no object what would be your dream project?
I’d explore what drives people by reading, talking and travelling. Then I’d write about it, and collaborate with talented people to produce and record the songs. Rinse and repeat. Ocean Sound Recordings in Norway looks like a nice first stop.
What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Playing with other musicians, when all the instruments and harmonies come together and you’re doing justice to the song and it’s neither overdone nor underdone. It’s so sweet and satisfying.
And the worst?
Carting gear! And the administration that goes into playing live, organising and promoting shows.
Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?There are lots of layers to discover in my songs. I put a lot of time into crafting them. I recommend listening more than once, and I hope you enjoy them.