23-year-old Northern Ireland’s singer/songwriter, now based in London, Daniel James, talks about life in Belfast, his music, parallel stories and his splendid track (+ video) ‘A Lonely Man’.
Can you describe your sound in few words?
Gospel, folk and soul mixed together. I try to come across as authentic, organic and real.
Can you talk a bit about your new track ‘A Lonely Man’?
The song is based on parallel stories. ‘A Lonely Man’ is based on parallel stories. One part expresses my own struggles with everyday life and another part expresses my imagination of what ‘struggling’ actually entails.
Researching old reference books and documentaries, I focussed on the struggle of the slaves in chain gangs in America in the nineteenth century. I tried to harness old slave / gospel type vocal rhythms in the track to reflect the parallel story. ‘A Lonely Man’ is a story of one man’s battle, both real and imagined”.How much of Northern Ireland do you bring into your music?
Northern Ireland is home and always will be home – so there is plenty of it in my music natrually. I have previously written music about the old tobacco company that was based in Belfast called Gallahers.
I wrote about how both sides of my family worked there, never knew it and were religiously and socially separated – then years past, babies were born and somehow through the madness my Mum and Dad met.
My Mum grew up on the Cliftonville road and my Dad grew up in Bangor. They tell me stories of growing up which I always loved listening to and transferring into my music.
How’s been your experience in London for the last 2 years?
I’ve really enjoyed London for the year couple of years. It’s a fantastic city with lots to do. The music scene is massive and highly competitive. People are always coming up with new ways to shine out. Yes it’s a huge city, so you can feel isolated and lost but it’s all part of growing up.How much is changed since ‘Jackdaw’ and ‘The Stone And The Hollow’?
Time has changed. I’ve got older and guess I have more of an idea of where i’m going to take this. The songs when stripped back with just me and a guitar are all much more similar than people would ever think.
How did you start and when?
It all started in a messy student halls about 2 and half years ago, that’s where I attempted to write my first song. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember and playing guitar for a fair few years now too.
Who are your influences in the music industry?
Alexi Murdoch, Sufjan Stevens, more currently Allen Stone has got some voice.
What has been the hardest part of being in the music industry for you?
Well it’s mega competitive, you can get lost amongst it all. You really don’t have many chances so really you’ve got to get it right most of the time if not all.
What was the last gig you played, what did you think of it?
The last gig I played was in Shoreditch, east London a couple of weeks back. It was a good gig I felt.
What’s the most successful thing you have done to date ?
I can never judge success but I’m proud of a lot of things – ‘A lonely Man’ got played on Radio 1 by Zane Lowe a couple of days ago, that was cool.
Who has helped you the most get to where you are today?
Lots of people have helped me. My family, my manager, Music college teachers… the list is endless.
What’s coming next for you?
Next I have a bunch of shows coming up 9th September @ Under the Bridge,12th September @ The Borderline supporting Lauren Aqualina,1st October @ The social, 2nd and 3rd October @ St Pancras supporting Liam Frost and 21st October with Golden Slippers @ Blacks. Also lots more writing too.
Who would you most like to collaborate with in the industry?
I have always said David Bowie would be someone I would love to write with. That would be insane.
By Fabrizio Belluschi ©FAMEMAGAZINE.co.uk
Thurs 12th Sept 2013, supporting Lauren Aqualina @ Borderline
Weds 2nd Oct 2013, St Pancras Old Church, London, UK with Liam Frost
Thurs 3rd Oct 2013, St Pancras Old Church, London, UK with Norma Jean Martine
Photos by Hannah Gant