- Fri, 2009-11-27 13:22
James Morrison has just released the deluxe edition of his second album, 2008's Songs For You, Truths For Me. The follow up to his now platinum debut Undiscovered, featuring the huge hits You Give Me Something and Wonderful World.
Featuring two new songs, I Like Music caught up with James to chat about the deluxe edition of Songs For You, Truths For Me, working with Nelly Furtado on their hugely successful duet Broken Strings, how fame has affected his music and life since his early busking days and why he loves Daniel Merriweather!
"I Like Music because… it makes me feel good and it's a powerful thing to remind you of how you feel or what you want, and it reminds you of good times or people that you know.” James Morrison
ILM: The deluxe edition of Songs For You, Truths For Me is out now, and comes with two brand new tracks, Get To You and On The Same Side. What’s the story behind those new tracks?
James: They’re not really like anything I’ve done before. I spent a little bit of time in between touring writing some songs. Just to break my back a bit for next time, so that I’ve got a little pot of songs I can look at. Those were the last two songs I wrote out of that time I spent writing. They’re quite big sounding songs. I tried to write something that had a kind of universal sound. Get To You is about getting home, it’s quite a simple message. I just tried to write how I feel really, I always do, otherwise you end up wasting time. They’re definitely different, they’re not like anything I’m going to do or anything I have done really. Well, they are obviously, they’re by me! But they’re of a certain time. I don’t want them on the new album. I don’t think I’ll be going in that direction with the third album.
ILM: What are your current thoughts, ideas and inspirations for the third album?
James: I’ve got a rough idea in my head of what it’s going to sound like but I can’t explain what it is yet. It’s too early! It’s all going to come down to what I’m singing about and what the content is about. I haven’t figured that out. I want to write songs people can relate to. I don’t want to write a load of soppy songs about being a dad! I’d love to write some beautiful songs for my daughter, but it depends on how I can approach it. I still love great songs. I’m not going to write an album of weird, album tracks just because I’ve had songs on the radio. I also want to concentrate on making better music and not worry as much about singles as I have done before.
ILM: How has your music writing process changed and developed? You now have access to big producers, bigger sounds and the knowledge that you can do a lot more with your music. Has that affected the way you work?
James: I’m definitely more aware than I was at the beginning when I was writing Undiscovered. I know more about production and what a song is actually going to sound like. Before I just heard melody and lyrics, rather than a whole sound, what instruments to use and things like that. I feel like I’ve been writing a long time now. I have more input into production that I’ve ever had before. Although I do feel a bit cheeky taking credit for it at the moment. I’m still learning! It wasn’t me that produced the two new songs, I was just there trying to chip in as much as I could! I have a lot of musical ideas though. I’m definitely more aware than I’ve ever been.
ILM: You have some live dates coming up. How do you prepare for a new tour?
James: I naturally get psyched for gigs! I love gigging! I was gigging before I was writing, back in the day when I used to play pubs and busk. I’ve been singing a lot longer than I’ve been writing. Performing always feels the most natural to me. I do have to prepare for a tour though. I try and save as much energy as I can. I try not to talk too much and not to go out! It’s boring but you have to be responsible. I’ve done it before, tried to party and work, and they just don’t fit together. I have to be really conscious of looking after myself and not getting too excited at one particular show and giving it all away on that night.
ILM: You’ve played a lot of shows now! Which have been some of the most memorable?
James: Oh man! I’ve played so many! A lot of the best ones I remember have been in Europe. I did a gig in Portugal, at the Oceana Festival. It was right next to a river, it was a beautiful night and they had loads of lights out, the crowd were really good and the atmosphere was just perfect. I did a gig in Denmark like that in Tivoli Gardens. I did a gig in Zurich which was outside a castle! I love playing in Amsterdam. The Isle of Wight festival was brilliant! I did some outside forest shows as well, which was just brilliant too!
ILM: Wow! You’ve played some amazing places. You mention your early busking days, how have you found your rise to fame and being in the limelight?
James: It’s been weird. I dunno. I’m pretty good at just rolling on with things and getting on with it. There have been times where it has freaked me out, how easily recognised I was getting at one point, especially after Broken Strings. People are nice to me though! I’m lucky, it’d be much worse to be famous and not be liked. I always worried about that at the start, whether I’d get started on by guys in clubs. I do get guys talking to me like they’re about to start on me sometimes, but in general, I don’t think about it. The music is the main thing that drives me and fills up my mind in the day. As long as the gigs are good and it’s going well, I don’t think about how famous I’m getting. Although I do sometimes feel like things are getting a bit full on. Sometimes I’ll go to the pub and have to take pictures with everyone. Or I’m with my daughter and people will come up to me when I’m having a meal. It’s not too bad at the moment though. It’s not crazy. I’m not the sort of person who encourages paparazzi; I don’t advertise myself as a celebrity. I’m just a singer and people happen to know my face!
ILM: You mention Broken Strings, your collaboration with Nelly Furtado. Do you have any collaborations planned for the future? Do you have a dream collaboration?
James: I think about it all the time actually! I have a couple of ideas. There’s an artist called Citizen Cope. I’ve seen him at a gig and he’s one of my favourite artists from the last couple of years. I spoke to him about a track, he was up for it. Also, there’s a guy I went on tour with called Martin Harley. He’s a really good blues guitarist. I’ve talked to him about working on some of his stuff and him playing guitar on some of my stuff, so, yeah, I’ve put feelers out there! Obviously I’d love to work with some of my idols, like Stevie Wonder!
ILM: Wow! That would be amazing!
James: Yeah! Although often in reality things never go how you would expect. It could go horribly wrong! I’d sing with him and then probably just stop halfway through to listen to him sing...! Whatever it is, it has to feel right. I wouldn’t do something for the sake of it.
ILM: Did Broken Strings happen naturally?
James: Well, it was’t going to be a duet, it just ended up as a duet naturally, yeah. I went with it, and luckily for me it worked! I was taking a risk in my mind. Musically it wasn’t like anything I’d done before. A lot of my songs are less electronic sounding. It was a bit scary doing something out of my musical tastes, but it was good to do something completely different. It paid off! It’s important to try different things.
ILM: What music have you been listening to recently?
James: I haven’t stopped listening to Daniel Merriweather’s album. I love it! I think he’s one of the best singers that’s come out in the last few years. He’s got a really good take on the soul thing, you can tell he loves Stevie Wonder. I love Stevie Wonder! Yeah, I can’t stop listening to it. I think he’s got a great voice. Plus I’ve met him and he’s a really nice guy! He has some good songs too. I listen to a lot of different stuff. I’ve been listening to a guy called Iron and Wine. He’s American, a bit more folky, quite a quiet singer, but really good. I’ve also been listening to Flight of The Conchords a lot!
James: Have you heard of them?
ILM: Yeah !
James: Haha! Yeah! They’re so good! I love the comedy factor, plus musically they’re great!
ILM: You should collaborate with them!
James: I’d love to do something with them! That would be brilliant! I’ve only just got into it, but I’m into it in a big way. I love all their songs, especially Bret You Got It Going On! Haha! They’re great songs!
ILM: Would you mind recommending one track you like to our readers?
James: Ah! That’s so difficult! One track! I listen to loads! Hmmm. Let’s see. I think I’m going to go for something a bit weird...hmmm....I’m struggling! Oo – there is this guy called James Hunter. He’s really cool. He had a record out last year. I put it on and didn’t know where it was from or who made it. I just thought it was from the sixties. A sixties Sam Cooke kind of thing. But he’s this London guy from Essex. He’s been around for a while and I did a gig with him because I love his music. I tried to get him as support and it worked out, it was brilliant! He has a song called Carina. I love it! If you put it on in the morning it will make you feel great! Let me play it to you now.....[starts playing the song] there you go! I love it!