In conversation with James Humphrys

“All sorts of things have influenced me and in some ways, I’ve felt more inspired and creative than usual since March.”

It is likely that you will be dancing to James’ Humphrys ‘Three Weeks’ when you finally reunite with your friends and loved ones after the second-wave of Lockdown. In July, James released his EP ‘Memory Palace’, and it’s the perfect soundtrack for the transition into summer. The EP ranges from inescapable pop to melancholic ballads—all tied together with his Morrissey-via-Lekman crooning. Known for his ability to explore vulnerabilities in the most upbeat and uplifting of ways, Bristol songwriter and multi-instrumentalist gains inspiration from bands like Foals, Parcels, Bombay Bicycle Club and Real Estate, creating a sound that is a unique concoction of upbeat funk-filled dream pop. We chat to the rising alternative about using technology as a form of intimacy, keeping inspired and what the future holds.

Your new song “Three Weeks” was inspired by the rise of zoom calls and other virtual forks of intimacy. Did you come up with any other quarantine inspired tunes or anything along those lines?
“During the first lockdown, I set myself the challenge of creating and recording a new groove or little ditty every day. I uploaded them to my story on Instagram and named the series Pyjama Grooves because you guessed it, I’d be in my pyjamas. At first, I wasn’t super keen on creating lockdown or quarantine inspired tunes, but it’s real and has been such a big part of our lives this year, so it will undoubtedly influence and appear in the art you’re making in some way or another.”

What has kept you inspired during these times as an artist?
“All sorts of things have influenced me and in some ways, I’ve felt more inspired and creative than usual since March. I also think having the time to take a break from our busy lives and make music when I want to has been great. It’s often quite hard when you’re working multiple jobs to find the time to sit down and write some music. I’ve spent both lockdowns back at my parent’s house where I grew up, so that has been inspiring and nostalgic in itself, but also spending time outdoors and in nature has kept me on my toes and feeling inspired. You’ve played with the likes of San Cisco, Shortstraw and Cassia.

What have you learnt through these experiences? Any standout memories?
“All three of the gigs happened at different music venues across Bristol so they’ve reminded me how lucky I am to be part of such a brilliant scene within a beautiful city that encourages young artists and musicians to grow! I used to listen to San Cisco a lot when I was a teenager so to be able to support them and hang with them backstage was very special. I also learnt the hard way to look after, or at least label, your equipment… I lost my entire pedalboard after that gig, which still hurts even now when I think about it. Worth it though, we need these lessons! 

This year you released your new EP ‘Memory Place’. Can you tell us what it was like producing this body of work?
“It had been a while since I had released a body of work and it’s a great feeling to produce something that was made in the same moment of time and that can be listened to from start to finish. All the songs on the EP were written while I was working away as a musician on a cruise ship around Alaska. Once I had finished my contract and I was back settled on dry land in the UK, I went to Numen Studios, which is not far from where I grew up. I spent 5 days there working on the 4 tracks until it was all done. It was the first time I’d spent proper time in the studio really, as I normally just record from my bedroom at home, so it was a really valuable but exhausting experience! My brain was mush by the end. The EP was produced by Jordan Timms and Max Smith and they seriously know what they’re doing.”

We all know that 2020 has been challenging and eye-opening. What are you hoping 2021 will be? Any goals? What can we expect from James Humphrys?
“I’ve put out the most music I’ve ever released this year and yet have only managed to gig once back in January. So I’m hoping next year the band and I can head out again and play these songs live to real life people. Boy, would that be fun! Other than that, I just want to keep working hard, growing and getting my music out there. You can expect more music from me next year that’s for sure!”

Ashley Morris

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