Monday, July 19, 2021

An Interview With Brave James

Brave James follows up on his first single, ‘Soldier’, with another broodingly atmospheric and emotionally rich odyssey: ‘Lighthouse’

Taken from his forthcoming album ‘BE BRAVE’, both tracks establish new musical territory somewhere between the crafted layerings of Joseph Arthur and the chilled-out electronic confessions of The Japanese House via a compositional process grounded in mood-based sound design. Ethereal lyrics drift into view within hypnotic looping structures, reflecting the stuckness of negative thoughts and the dim light of fleeting human connection.


In this interview, Brave James talks about ‘Lighthouse’ – a layered loop-scape in the liminal space between togetherness and absence – plus live sets, London life, lyrics, and other things beginning with L.

Hi how are you doing? 

Hey! I’m feeling awake and ready for what’s ahead. 


Talk to us about ‘Lighthouse’

‘Lighthouse’ is channelling some hard-to-navigate feelings that I’ve had in my life, hoping that it may touch and resonate with listeners. It started as this never-ending, circular, ethereal loop, that seemed to lend itself to the theme. 


Your first 2 singles are emotionally intense meditations on loneliness and the possibility of connection. Do these themes run through the rest of the album? 

I’d say human connection and disconnect are kind of at the heart of things for me. Moments of togetherness, chance meetings, memories which loom large in the moment and then fade away. There’s a poignant place of acceptance that things will change, and a window just before they do. I think the upcoming record exists in this space. 


How do you translate your layered electronic sounds and harmonies into live performance? Does the emotional tone of your songs differ between the studio and onstage? 

I’m currently building the live set, involving a lot of sample / drum triggering, live bass and vocal harmonies. There will also be a projector which will hopefully take the visual immersion side of things to a whole new level... so it will be something new and at once familiar…


Does your songwriting process always start from sound design, with lyrics coming later?  

Sometimes I might start with a lyrical theme or melody, but more commonly I love starting with the sound design… to first create an atmosphere and go from there. Sometimes this process can involve unpredictable things like cassette splicing or circuit bending, which can, in turn, produce unique sounds to run with. 


Do your Australian / UK roots reflect in your music?  

London has always been home for me – The BT Tower in particular has been an unexpected source of musical inspiration; my studio space is right beneath it and I’ve lived there for over eight years. It’s become a symbol for my music in a strange way that I can’t totally explain. Like I often sample soft signal and transmission sounds on tracks which I think must have come from my connection and proximity to the tower. There’s a kind of ocean, calming quality to the transmissions… it’s something I want in my music too. 


How did you start collaborating with Oli Rockberger? Is that collaboration continuing on album 2? 

I’ve had the pleasure of cowriting and coproducing with Oli for years now – we first connected over a separate project. I showed him some of my solo music at one point, which led to more and more amazing moments to write together. He has an incredible record coming out very soon that you need to check out, called ‘Look Up’


How is album 2 coming along? 

Album 2 is about half-done! The pandemic has meant that I’ve had time to buckle down and not only finish the ‘BE BRAVE’ record, but also make exciting progress with the follow-up, which will be even braver. 


Which musical acts would you most like to collaborate with and why? 

Today I would say Laura Mvula, Bon Iver or Baths… maybe all three together on one track, why not spoil myself. I would be so excited to see what sounds emerge from that clash. 


What does the future hold for Brave James? 

I’m looking forward to touring the live set, now that live music is returning – and finishing the follow-up album… Very excited for the journey ahead. Join the journey @imbravejames – thanks for having me!  

John Weston


Image: DediKATed pr

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