EXCLUSIVE: ASL’s Interview With James Morrison

March 13th, 2007 // 1 Comment

James Morrison is a name that you’ll know soon. With a CD that releases today, James obliged us with an exclusive interview. James was born in Rugby, England, far from the coasts of the USA on July 10th 1984. A new voice of soulful pop music would be born–one that would become an overwhelmingly popular one. At the age of thirteen, Morrison learned the guitar from his uncle, and from there, a musician blossomed. He went busking, just playing for anyone he could find, knowing that if he ever wanted to be famous, he’d have to play in front of thousands. With a distinct voice given to him by a whooping cough that he had as a baby, he hopes to play for millions.

Josh Martin: I’ve been reading over your bio. You’re 22 years old. You’re a relatively young singer/songwriter on the Interscope label. How has that been, traveling throughout England and the rest of Europe with your new CD, at such a young age?

James Morrison: It’s been absolutely amazing. For me, I mean, I’ve never experienced anything like this before. The thought that I get to do this at this young point of my career, and I’ll get to grow and learn more and have more experience, is just great.

Josh: Your album already debuted #1 on the UK charts and you’ve had a pair of top five hits. Yet, you’re still a relative unknown to US music fans, but you’re going on a tour right away. Is that exciting to you?

James: Yeah man! Definitely, I love touring anyway. To go to America with it, is amazing. America has so many great places to play, it’s just such a vast area of landscapes and cultures that you get to play. So, yeah I’m totally excited about the whole trip. I’ve never really spent any time in America anyways. So I get to go over there with my music, it is an absolute bonus to my life.

The interview continues, along with a list of James Morrison’s upcoming concert dates, after the jump…

Josh: I’ve seen some of your influences: Otis Redding, Al Green, and Cat Stevens are a few. You’ve got a very unique voice and sound. How would you describe yourself to someone who hasn’t heard you yet?

James: I don’t know. I just try and sing in a way that’s my old style. Yes though, I love all the blues and Motown kind of style. Even like Van Morrison. I know he’s Celtic soul, I suppose. I was brought up in soul, and I want to bring it all into my music without being a second rate version of it. My voice just comes from my life experience and I just try to draw upon those to make my sound.

Josh: I read that you’ve had a whooping cough as a baby that may contribute to the husk of your voice, is that accurate?

James: Yeah, I dunno. I wouldn’t go too far to say I’ve sound too different. I hope it’s original, but the whooping cough, yes. I died four times when I was a born because I was coughing so much. It really left me with a raspiness.

Josh: So I’ve seen that recently in the USA we’ve had a lot of artists cross over. Is that a path you want to follow? James Blunt, among other,s have exploded in the USA recently.

James: I suppose. Well, to be honest, I don’t think the British artists helped me. If people don’t like me, then I wouldn’t be touring. It all comes down to the music, and it comes down to what you’re trying to sell to people. I feel really comfortable with my album. I wrote my music, knowing what I felt at the time. I feel proud of my own stuff. Obviously, yeah, I guess in a way, it helps knowing that other artists have done well, but in the end, if you don’t have a good album, it doesn’t matter where you’re from.

Josh: About your new album, what’s been your biggest inspiration for it? Is this a really personal album?

James: I wouldn’t say that. Obviously, I try to connect all my songs to draw upon something when I’m singing them. However, not all of them are not autobiographical parts of my life. I’ve put a lot of personal stuff into it. I tried my best. “This Boy” is one for sure. “A Better Man” was also a personal song. Sometimes I just wrote songs that were ideas, and were fun ideas. I like ideas that carry songs. I wanted to write an album with a mix of songs that I loved and felt personal about.

Josh: One of the big things that sticks out about you–you had an option to have one of your songs in a movie, and then act in a movie, but you chose not to. Not typical of someone looking for a break, but very noble. Why did that happen?

James: It is kind of that. It wasn’t that I had so much belief in my music that I would make it without it. It just felt it was like the wrong thing to do. I felt like I was here to play music and that’s it. I just felt like the opportunity with my album was too great and so much that it was amazing. I felt like I should just stick with what I feel good about, and that’s it. Even if it didn’t work out, I feel like I made the right decision.

Josh: I saw when you got your start, you’d perform gigs for groups of teenage girls, and you would busk. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

James: Busking was great. It was a great way to get experience playing in front of people. I was quite shy when I first started playing guitar. I couldn’t dream of playing in front of someone, much less talking to someone I didn’t know. I did it because I needed to gain experience, and get over that initial scariness of playing in front of someone you don’t know. It helped get a little following, and get money on the side too. I used to love busking. Busking is a pure and honest way of performing, if people don’t like it they don’t give you anything. They walk past you and scorn you. If you’re good, you’ll make money.

Josh: Your upcoming tour has some intimate sites and intimate clubs, is that something that you wanted intentionally?

James: Well, I love it. It will really help. I did four residency shows when I first started in London. They went down really well. I can strip down the songs and the shows, and it just sounds amazing. To have a massive audience, it would be weird. Purely because my songs translate easier when there are less people.

Josh: One of the dates is SXSW, are you excited to be playing one of the biggest shows in America?

James: I can’t wait! The whole idea of me coming to America with my music is insane. I never thought I’d have an album of my own in the first place. I never thought I had the talent to do it, to go to America with it as well is amazing. A lot of the artists I grew up on were America and British artists haven’t been super successful in the USA is a challenge. I’m excited though.

Josh: Well thank you for giving us time to talk to you, James. We at ASL, as well as our readers, hope to see you on tour, and wish you the best!

James: Cheers, man! Come out and see me at any of my tour stops. I’d love to see the readers!

TOUR SCHEDULE

3/21: Los Angeles, The Roxy. SOLD OUT!

3/23: San Francisco, Swedish American Hall.

On Sale Now! Click here to purchase tickets

3/26: Seattle, Chop Suey.

On Sale Now! Click here to purchase tickets.

3/31: Chicago, Martyr’s. Onsale March 3

4/3: St. Louis, Duck Room. Onsale March 9

4/5: Toronto, Mod Club. Onsale March 3

4/10: Cambridge, MA, T.T. The Bear’s.

On Sale Now! Click here to purchase tickets.

4/11: New York, Knitting Factory. SOLD OUT!

On Sale Now! Click here to purchase tickets.

4/15: Nashville, 3rd and Lindsley. Onsale TBD

4/16: Atlanta, Vinyl. Onsale March 9

4/18: Denver, Larimer Lounge.

TV Appearances

James Morrison will be appearing on the Today Show on March 16th and on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 21, be sure to tune in!

asl

  1. Au

    He seems like a cool guy. But for a minute there I was like, James Morrison, as in Jim?? Hopefully his talent matches that of his namesake.

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