19 September 2014

James Southwell doing it for the love

| Hannah Haggarty
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I caught up with Melbourne based musician James Southwell, we talk fame, influences and preparing to record.

What was the first song you learnt how to sing and play as a kid?
Dammit Blink 182. I remember standing in my bedroom in front of my mirror with my stereo blaring the song, as I was playing along. When I FINALLY nailed it I remember how happy I was! The thought of singing and playing together up until that point had always seemed impossible, but at that moment it seemed within grasp. And considering the bluesy, funky, souley, rocky tunes I play now, I think it’s important to know where I started – a messy haired, torn jeans, awkward little ginger kid that loved punk rocking out! (Which I still do).

When can an artist consider themselves ‘famous’?
As far as I’m concerned, famous is bullshit.
Look at artists like Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Jimi Hendrix – they were all shy, timid people who got nervous before they went on stage. Just humble people that, as a product of their need to play and write, became ‘famous’. Success on the other hand is real. Only you as an individual can gauge what you deem to be success. I’ll consider myself successful if I can continue to support myself playing music, not by # 1 records and selling 5 million cd’s. Though if something along those lines was to happen, it would be the cherry on top.

Is your music a product of your taste, your environment or your experience?All of the above – In song writing you can’t choose the emotion or what will inspire you in that moment, it just happens, and when it does you’ve got to write it down because you don’t know when that drive will shine through again.

What influences does touring and collaborating have on your music?
Touring tends to inspire me, because the more you play, the more you play!
I write a lot on the fly. Just at gig, or I’ll try something new so on tour there is a lot more opportunity to do that.

How do you approach a venue or do you have a booking agent/manager?
have a booking agent. I was booking myself for a short time, but it’s really hard (for me) to do because when I focus booking I tend to forget about playing and writing, and vice versa. So having someone handle that for me frees me up to be creative.

What’s advice can you offer anyone trying to record an EP?
You can never to TOO prepared for a recording session. PRACTICE! If you can record a bit at home before-hand using programs like Garageband or Logic, Do it – The more you play your song, the better understanding you’ll have of it before you spend the time and $$ in the studio.

James Southwell and his band are playing at the Clubhouse Hotel in Yass on Friday the 19th a 8pm and will be supporting Kevin Borich at the Canberra Irish club on the 21st, kicking of at 2pm. If you’ve never heard him play, you should definitely get along to his show in Yass – his shows always promise to be a great evening!

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