Busy working on his Debut Album we meet Chris James

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Performing live music for ten years in the Norwich music scene has established Chris as a well known and well respected performer with a consistently full gig calendar, large online presence and a reputation for fun, high energy shows. Chris appeared on ITV’s the Voice UK in 2018 and was chosen as a member of Team Olly, with my Blind Audition video currently having nearly 3 million views and my Battle Episode nearly another 1 million views. Chris continues to perform regularly through live streams and maintain my presence in the Norfolk music scene.

How have you found being a musician during lockdown?

Being without live music in venues has been very difficult during lockdown. On the positive side I have refocused on producing my own music and am close to releasing my first album. I have also kept up with live streaming, and have built up my audience online with both live streams and pre-recorded videos becoming very popular. As soon as I was able to I returned to busking, including some ‘walking’ gigs where I walked for an hour or two around my neighbourhood playing. It was busking and the ‘walking’ gigs I found the most rewarding, as people had the opportunity to tell me how much they had missed live music, and how much they appreciated what I was doing, which is the goal of music, to bring entertainment and joy to people.

What have you been doing musically during the lock down, how has it affected you?

I have mostly focused on growing my YouTube channel, and also on producing my album, both of which have provided me a great outlet for my creativity, and also allowed me to get some focus back on areas which had perhaps been pushed aside by a heavy gigging schedule and other work. It has been difficult to get through without live performance, but the reactions of people online whenever I put up new content have been very gratifying to see.

What first got you into music and when was it?

I first got into music through musical theatre as a child, when the after school drama club I did would put on a revue show every year. I was involved in a short snippet of Grease, Oliver! and Les Miserables, which led to me discovering a great love of music and singing. After that in high school I started to learn electric guitar, which introduced me to the sort of music I would go on to play later in life.

Who inspired you to make music, who are you influenced by?

My original inspiration as a guitarist was listening to my father’s vinyl records, in particular Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, who became major early influencers. As I got older I expanded my musical tastes while at heart staying true to the blues rock influences. Aerosmith has been a major influence, and in terms of lyrically Bruce Springsteen and Green Day, as well as indie artists like The Mountain Goats. For performance Freddie Mercury is a massive influence in what I want my on-stage persona to be like.

How would you describe the music that you typically create, has it changed over the years and how?

I first started writing my own music when I was in high school and it’s definitely changed since then! The most obvious things for me have been the lyrical content and the arrangement of the music. Today I would describe the majority of my output as Rock or Pop, with heavy influence from Blues, Folk and the Indie music scene, as well as the occasional punk or pop punk number. The biggest difference musically nowadays is that I try not to confine myself to genre, if a song begins to go in a direction outside where I intended, I go with the flow.

What is your creative process?

Most of my songs start from a single lyric, that I then build the rest of the song around. This can be an idea that is central to the theme of the song, or simply a phrasing or idea that I found striking, and that stuck with me. In general until I have that one line to hang the song around, the song won’t be finished, however much I might like whatever riff or melody I’ve

got started.

Who would you like to collaborate with and why?

My number one dream collaboration would be Bruce Springsteen, but I’m actually very open to collaborating with a wide variety of artists and would always love to push my musical horizons. I feel as though 21 Pilots would definitely expand my Indie knowledge, whereas Bruno Mars would bring an R&B flavour I’d love to develop. I always look to push myself out of my comfort zone.

If you could support one band/artist who would it be and why?

I’d love to do a support slot for Green Day. They’ve been a huge influence on me musical and having seen them live I feel I’d be a great fit in terms of energy on stage.

What is the one message you would give your audience and what message would you give the MU readers?

Be good to yourself. I see a lot of difficulties in the music community, especially in terms of mental health, and the lockdown has only made things harder. So if you need to take a break from music, go for it, if you need to have a day for yourself where you veg out and play video-games or watch old movies, don’t feel it’s wasted. There’s nothing wrong with taking time to make sure you are ok.

What is the most useless talent you have?

I can trap house flies in glasses so I don’t have to kill them or try and wave them out of a window.

What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for music?

Well when I’m not doing music at the moment I spend the rest of my time writing novels so probably that.

Where have you performed?

I have performed a lot around Norfolk, as well as down in London, across towards Cambridge and (of course) in Manchester while filming the Voice. My absolute favourite gig has to be Norwich Pride though. Nothing like having over a thousand people singing along with you. My least favourite gig is probably an event I did in Norwich which I won’t name as the organizer is still around. This particular event though was very badly run, leading to the performers going from 15 minute sets to 2 songs on the day due to overrun. I am next playing a live stream with promoter Hot Vox in support of the War Child charity.

How do you feel the internet has impacted the music industry and you specifically?

The internet has absolutely allowed me to reach a wider audience than I would have done before, and the feedback I have received has made me more confident to keep pursuing music and to try and make it my main career. In general I think the effects have been both good and bad, as many of the old negatives have still carried over (corporate overreach, sexism, racism) while at the same time the wider reach and more level playing field have allowed acts to flourish who might before have never been given a chance.

What is your favourite song to perform and why?

My personal favourite song is one of my own called Jack o’ Bones. It’s just so much fun, I get to play slide guitar and use my loop pedal.

What is the most trouble you have gotten into?

This is going to be very boring but probably just getting a detention in high school!

If you could only listen to one album from now on what would it be? (Each member can provide separate answers)

Oof, I guess I’d have to say Green Day’s American Idiot. One of the few albums I personally think has no duds on it, and the lyrical content continues to be relevant even today (plus Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming are masterpieces in songwriting)

What is the best advice you have been given?

‘This too shall pass.’

If you could change anything what would it be?

In the world or personally? In the world I’d want to change how people interact with each other and try and bring a little kindness and understanding into everyday interactions. In myself I would definitely give myself a bit more drive and a bit less procrastination.

Which bands do you think are currently under-rated or that people should look out


My girlfriend has recently introduced me to Idlewild, who are absolutely insane and I really don’t get how they aren’t more famous already!

What is next for you?

Finish my debut album, keep building my online presence, and get back to gigging as soon as possible.


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