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Interview: Seattle’s own Arthur James!

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One listen to Arthur James’ raspy, intimate acoustic songs and you’ll be taken to another place.  The songs on his debut EP, The 4th Floor, make me feel like I am in sitting in on an evocative private upstairs apartment performance.

Arthur James will be performing at the Columbia City Theater on July 26th with support from Emily Donohue, Tyler Edwards and Alki.  You can get tickets here: Columbia City Theater Ticketing!

I was lucky enough to have a quick Q&A with Arthur, please enjoy it below!

What’s your musical background?
Growing up, there was always music in the house. My parents weren’t musicians but they were immense fans of music. All types. Literally. I listened to everything from Bach, Chopin and Pachelbel, to the Delta Blues, Bluegrass, Country, R&B, to Polka and Metal. It was all there, blasting through my dad’s stereo every day. I didn’t pick up my first instrument (the guitar) until I was 15.

Your first childhood memory related to music?
My first musical memory is hearing “Like a Rolling Stone.” I was maybe 1 or 2? I remember being on my hands and knees, crawling around when I first heard it. Every time I hear it, even now, it takes me back to this little house we lived in in southern California.

How would you describe your sound?
Thoughtful.
I’m very careful with my music. I’m trying to communicate with people. Or, in the case of my last EP, through people.. for people. So, I take a lot of care in making sure I’m delivering my songs intelligently, you know?
So, yeah, Thoughtful, I think.

What comes first, music or lyrics?
For me, lyrics.
It’s always been that way. It’s what I look for when I’m listening to music. That’s where I start when I’m writing my own. The music is certainly an important part of the song, but it was always more of a vehicle for words. For me, that was the content, you know. The substance.

What do you hope that people get from your music?
Comfort.
A sense of place, even.
I grew up all over the world. Moving to a new city, state, or country every year or two. It was next to impossible having friends. You get to feeling really isolated. Whenever I didn’t want to feel that way, I’d put some music on and live inside those tunes. Music was always there, you know? So, I think that I grew into writing in a way that would emulate the relationship I had with music. I wanted to connect with people. Communicate with them. And maybe let somebody know that they weren’t alone.

How do you know when a song is finished?
I don’t ever know when a song is finished. I know when I’m sick of dealing with one, but I’ve never known that a song was finished.

Getting a sound out of your head and into the real world is an incredibly daunting task. After I track, mix and master a record, I won’t listen to it anymore. I can’t. I just get frustrated because something didn’t sound right. Or I hear the parts where I know I threw my hands up and said, “whatever, that’s good enough, we’re running out of time, keep moving”, you know? So, yeah, I’m never finished. Just kind of ‘okay’ with it.

What’s the coolest part about being a part of the Seattle music scene?
Playing music in a city with this much musical history is incredible. I mean, Seattle sports a ridiculous resume, you know? Like, game changing acts that were either born here or got the ball rolling here. It’s unreal.

It’s been a privilege getting to play on stages where so many artists I look up to have played. I’ve been here for two and a half years and it’s still pretty surreal thinking about the impact this town’s had on music. Seattle had a lot to do with the music that I grew up listening to, the music I grew into appreciating and the new music I’m finding today. It’s been great feeding off that history and culture here.

 

For more information about Arthur, please visit his official site!



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