Saturday, 12 June 2010
For the last week or so, one man's music has dominated my playlist. His two cracking albums are available (just click the covers above!) as name-your-own-price downloads, yet I didn't know much about the man in question, Glasgow singer-songwriter Jack James.
All his personal and album info seems to be "written by a friend". So I thought I'd ask him about himself and his music. Here's everything you need to know straight from the horses mouth....
Kowalskiy: First of all, I can't help noticing your About Me's are all written by a friend. Who is Jack James in your own words?
Jack: I find it weird writing about myself. Also, I think a lot of low-profile artists write these bio things things themselves in the 3rd person, then they maybe draw attention to that fact to add a bit of humour. So I decided to get a good friend of mine to write something for both albums, and I think reading that alone probably tells you all you need to know, I was really happy with what he came up with. But if I were to write something about myself I'd probably start talking about how I want to write cliché-free music, but already that's making me sound a bit pretentious and it's feeling weird.
Kowalskiy: You have 2 EPs up for grabs on your bandcamp. Can you describe them for us?
Jack: Well, I'd describe them as albums for a start!
Kowalskiy: My bad!
Jack: Everything was recorded at home with a fairly basic set-up. The vast majority of the first album is just guitar and vocals, which were done together in a single live take. In the second album everything is built around this exact same structure - a guitar and vocal live take - though I added a lot more instrumentation, such as banjo and some percussion. Whenever I record anything I'll use as close to the first take as possible, in fact some of the songs on the albums are my first take. Neil Young is a great believer in recording like this, I've also heard Ben Folds talk about similar things and how your perceived mistakes can become great parts of the song. It's an honest way to record I think.
Kowalskiy: What made you put them up as a name-your-own-price download?
Jack: I'm a big fan of music-sharing, especially online. People shared music before we had computers, and you're not going to be able to stop them now. I read something about the "Listen, Like, Buy" model, which just makes total sense to me. Who is going to buy music, without first listening and then liking it. Personally I think the best way to get people to listen to my music is to make it readily-available, and this means free streaming/download on places like bandcamp and last.fm. If people like it enough that they want to pay for it, the option is there for them. But I'm definitely not doing this to make money, music isn't my job, it's something I love spending time doing.
Here's my favourite tracks from his debut "Lights Off, Headphones On" and recent release "Quarter-life Crisis". Listen, Like, Buy!