Wednesday 7th February 2018
Fresh off the back of touring with the likes of Ed Sheeran and The Hoosiers, and following a string of successful live performances with Sofar Sounds; and being featured on BBC Introducing, London based artist Paddy James is armed with his guitar and a bunch of infectious melodies for his latest release “Perfectly Flawed”. His latest single, which is due to be release on the 2nd March showcases the the effortless talents that Paddy has when it comes to songwriting, and after watching his performances on YouTube, it’s not hard to see why his debut EP “Lost Boy” spun him straight in to the top 5 singer/songwriter chart on iTunes. Paddy aims to focus on continuing to releasing a number of singles this year, whilst taking the time to perfect his album.
Please could you tell me about how it all started for you? Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?
Like many a musician I grew up around music, my dad played guitar and always played in bands for as long as I can remember. He tried getting me to play guitar when I was a little tot but I didn’t have the patience, I wanted to be able to entertain immediately. So, after a fleeting attempt at learning the guitar I took on the drums from maybe 9/10 years old. I remember being bought a drum kit which was set up in the garage, the crashing about must’ve been horrendous, ha! Fast forward to my mid/late teens following a few years of studying the drums, I revisited my old 6 string nemesis in the form of a beaten up old nylon string classical guitar and thrashed around for a while with the basics. I finally got it to work and had won a school talent show within a year or two. I think the major turning point though, was when I got to Uni. I realised there, that I had the potential to make music work for me, that’s where I built a bit of a live reputation, landed some great support slots and lived through some ludicrous life experiences from which some of my early song writing fodder was born. As far as there being any one particular influential person, besides dad’s musicality and mum’s killer English language skills, Gene Kelly would be up there, Singin’ in the Rain was on a loop in my house, what an entertainer.
Your latest single “Perfectly Flawed” has just been released. How are you finding the response so far, and how does it feel having the single out there?
The response has been great so far. I have an incredible network of friends and family who are always excited to see what comes next, and this time I’ve been privileged to receive a big chunk of industry feedback which has been very insightful. It’s a great relief to have it out, it’s amazing how long it takes sometimes when you are self funding a project. I try and enjoy the process but I’m forever trying to improve as a musician and a writer and the next new idea is always the best idea you’ve ever had. So I have to remind myself sometimes to take one step at a time and take it as it comes!
How does the single compare to your previous releases, and how do you feel you’re growing as an artist?
It’s definitely a step forward I think from the previous release. I’m slowly trying to veer away from the typical singer/songwriter set up that we’ve been bombarded with over the last few years. It will always be at the heart of what I do but I’m definitely working towards something a bit more exciting. I find myself studying songs and structures a lot more now and spending a lot of time on the technical side of things. I didn’t study music and I’m incredibly competitive so I feel like I’m constantly catching up. I try and surround myself with crazy talented musicians too who help push me to be the musician that I’m hoping to create. I’m working a lot more on the song writing and trying to find a good balance that can be both artistic yet commercial at the same time.
Could you tell me about your writing process, being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, and how do you know when a song is ready?
Songs are never ready, haha! Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and say that’s the song and move on. I don’t have a set writing process, I probably should do, although they tend to stem from one of two scenarios. The first is simply picking up a guitar, blurting out some chords, words and melodies and see if anything sticks. The second I tend to pick a topic and roll with it maybe write a few pages of words, rhymes and sing into my phone, (the easiest way to jot down ideas). The songs always come together more quickly once I have a clear story in my head. I’ve been fortunate enough to try writing with people for the first time over this past year and that was one of the key learning points. Its all too easy to write a load of waffle but when you have a clear subject matter, ideal or emotion you want to put across it makes life so much easier and the songs which are the most believable and the most real are the ones that stand out so much more.
Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon inspirations when writing and performing?
There are so many to choose from, I never really honed in on any one artist nor have I really ever idolised anyone as the people at the top of their game are just people who had a vision and worked incredibly hard at their craft to get to the top. If I were to throw a couple in I would say John Mayer because there is simply nothing he cannot do on a guitar, I would be happy with half of his guitar knowledge. Sting, his lyrics have always intrigued me, I love the way he writes songs, I find a lot of his material incredibly poetic. The Police had such an attitude on and off the stage too which I love watching. A lot of my inspiration comes from watching music documentaries and recorded live shows. It’s so easy to write after watching an incredible performance.
Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?
My plan is to keep releasing singles for now, there’ll be 3/4 more out this year after ‘Perfectly Flawed’. I’m headed back into the studio in May once the winter season is over with some songs I’m incredibly excited about. Once this year is done I’ll see how everything has gone down and go from there. I want the first album to be special so it may take a few years yet while I figure it all out. I’m in no rush.
Who has been your favourite band or artist to tour with so far? You’ve been lucky enough to support some huge artists…
Supporting Ed, just as he was about to explode was great fun such a lovely dude. Last summer though I played a little festival in France called The Mad Hatters Wonderland Festival, one of my favourite lesser known bands Will and the People who I’ve played with a couple of times now were playing which was ace (I still don’t understand why they aren’t huge) but Slade were headlining and I was genuinely blown away. I’ve never had so much fun at a gig, they really know how to entertain a crowd I had no idea they would be so good.
I’ve recently discovered Sofar Sounds and noticed you did a performance a little while back. How did the opportunity come about, and how was the experience?
I absolutely love the Sofar gigs I think I’ve done 4 or 5 now, they have an application process and if they like what you do they invite you to play a show. You then become part of their alumni I guess you’d call it, and if you go down well there’s plenty of opportunities to do more shows. Their whole ethos revolves around providing a dead quiet atmosphere for people that want to listen to music. It’s incredibly intimate, you can literally hear a pin drop, which can be a strange sensation as you literally have no where to hide. I love it though, I love the pressure to perform, it keeps you on your toes for sure. You should definitely go!
Word has it that you’re also a ski instructor. Which came first, music or skiing, and how do you balance your time between the two?
Yes! I am a qualified ski instructor, I trained over in Canada before I went to Uni and taught when I was out there. I’m pretty hectic with music now though so I save the teaching for friends and family that come and visit me out here in the Alps. I was a pretty fortunate kid, I went skiing for the first time when I was about 7 years old and pretty much wangled a trip most years growing up. Music definitely came first though I’ve been singing since before I can remember. My gig schedule is pretty mental out here so I ski more for pleasure, nothing keeps you fresher than the mountain air.
Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – Sting. He’s just a bad ass as far as I’m concerned… Plus I can’t stop listening to an album he did backed by various orchestra’s called Symphonicities. The arrangements just hit the spot for me. I’d have to figure out how to do it in a way distinctive for me but it’s a beautiful song. When I am of a level where I can fill out the Royal Albert Hall with an orchestra behind my songs in a similar way I will have lived a happy man.