James founded the London based alternative rock band Gallon Drunk, he has also recorded and toured with a wide variety of other musicians including Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Ulan Bator, Barry Adamson, Faust and PJ Harvey. He has contributed scores to numerous film and television projects, working with Ken Russell and acting for Olivier Assayas in his award-winning film Clean.
Photo by Steve Gullick.
1.) WHICH RECORD HAS HAD THE MOST PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON YOU?
That’s difficult, but for me Funhouse by the Stooges always had magical powers. Such a beautiful sound on that record and as transportational in its own way as something like Spem In Alium, or In A Silent Way.
2.) HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU SPEND A WEEK RECORDING/PLAYING/CREATING?
With a deadline in sight, as much as physically possible, or in a blind panic. But I do really enjoy learning songs or music when I’m playing with other people, and writing can be quite obsessional when it’s needed. I often play the piano or guitar for a few hours a day, though mostly in a non-compositional and more therapeutic way.
3.) WHICH OF YOUR OWN CREATIONS IS YOUR FAVOURITE?
The record I’ve just finished, thankfully.
4.) WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
They do tend to eat you from the inside, so best avoided for reasons of sanity.
5.) WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?
I’m a bit restless in general – but probably read, walk around London, or attempt to just stare into space. That and comedy. Laughter’s the best you can get, surely. The Pineapple pub in Lambeth can be both relaxing and hilarious.
6.) OTHER THAN FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHAT IS YOUR MOST CHERISHED POSSESSION?
A weird sort of dog on wheels made out of a discarded fishing buoy, bought in Essouira. Working wheels and feathers hammered up its rear. A very happy holiday and a lovely mad thing that encapsulates a lot of cherished memories.
7.) TELL ME THREE OF YOUR HEROES/HEROINES?
Most of the true heroes and heroines tend to be anonymous people that commit acts of kindness, either when they needn’t, or in extreme circumstances. So any three of them.
8.) WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WORLD?
St Martha’s, near Guildford, a beautiful place and view that I’ve been back to throughout my life. A shame it’s not a bit hotter with a beach though.
9.) IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE YOUR ART WHAT OCCUPATION DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE DOING?
I genuinely dread to think. I worked in an archaic and fairly chaotic picture library for quite a while, and aside from going slowly mad in there over time, I did rather like it. Aisle upon aisle of magazines, periodicals, posters, photos, all mostly unlabelled. Something new to discover at every turn, a lot of lost history in there and an unbelievable fire hazard.
10.) IF THERE IS ONE THING THAT YOU WOULD WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT YOU HAVE NEVER CONVEYED IN AN INTERVIEW BEFORE WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
I failed maths O Level four times, I enjoy dancing sitting down as well as standing up – and parties can give me the fear.