Alright folks, got something a little different for you today! I recently had the opportunity to catch the fabulous artist James OR for a conversation about some of the things that he’s got coming up and had going on for himself. We cover his brand new single ‘An Attempt at Momentum’, and I must say I’ve heard him perform this a few times live, mostly Acoustic, and it was already a wonderful song, but it has emerged in the recorded version like a Caterpillar post-cocoon as this truly magnificent piece of art. I’m blown away by the leaps and bounds the track has taken to reach it’s final form. Elsewhere in the conversation we talk about the accompanying music video directed by Jess Leen, working on his debut album with Christian Best in Monique Studios, and his upcoming headline show in Coughlan’s Live on May 3rd (Grab tickets here!) among other things, so read all about it below! Keep an eye out for the single dropping on Friday as well, I’ll be posting it here on the page once it releases.
So to kick us off, your new single An Attempt at Momentum is out on April 26th, can you give us an introduction to what the song is about?
James OR: It’s about sort of meeting someone who you haven’t seen in a while, who you care a lot about and you know you’re gonna miss again when they’re gone, but you’re not gonna see them again for another while. It’s just getting that thing off your chest, that you’ve been thinking about for a while, and you’re just picking your moments to get it off your chest – Cause I went to an Elbow gig about 3-4 years ago and Guy Garvey said the two things you should never do when you’re about to meet someone who you haven’t seen in a while and you’re not gonna see again for another while, is you should never meet them at night and you should never meet them over alcohol. And so AAAM is about the time I did both of those things.
Is there plans for a music video release to accompany the upcoming single?
J: Yeah the music video is coming out on the release day, April 26th. I worked with Jess Leen and Robin Guiton on it. They put together this really nice concept and they went ahead and shot it. I got the finished video back last week and I really love it, I think it really sums up the message behind the song really well. The main actor is called Darragh Byrne and he is just fabulous in it, he’s incredible. He had just on the day of filming asked Jess ‘does this video require a lot of facial expressions’ and she was like ‘yeah it definitely does!’, and he said ‘great well I’m just after doing a class on mime, so I’m gonna use all the stuff that I’ve learned in this video’. So that’s what you’re seeing, this really cool expressive appeal that I can’t wait to show people
It must have been great to have such a creative mind in Jess involved, a fabulous Playwrite, Musician and Director too…
J: Yeah, I really love Jess’s stuff, she really is one of my favourite writers. I saw one of her plays Waiting For WiFi back in January 2018, and I just thought it was such a spectacular piece of work. So when I was thinking about who I’d approach to do the music video she kinda seemed the most natural choice, cause I love her sense of humour, and I love how witty her writing is. So I’m like it would be so great if I could get that witiness and that cleverness across in a music video. So yeah it was magic to have her on board and she actually connected me with Robin who shot and edited the whole video. It seems now if you’re looking at a music video in Cork, Robin’s name is attached to it. You’ll be watching a music video and be like ‘Ah it’s by Robin ok’, he’s just got this really clear shooting style and really great way of capturing images and really just sharpening them up and making them really exciting to watch.
How did it feel to close the book on your debut project Cold Open with the final music video for Safe & Sound last year?
J: Good question, it was really good fun because Safe & Sound was put out I think a year and a half after Cold Open came out, and it was nice to do something different with those songs. We’d done the music video for ‘The Fear’ and we were getting ready to record some new songs, and then myself and Dave Lyons got chatting and we were just like yeah look I mean there’s this track here and Dave had just started his company Speire so he was looking for projects to work on. He approached me and said look how about we make this music video, and originally it was a very straightforward idea of maybe just me singing to the camera. When we looked over the first shots we were really happy with it but we thought maybe it just needed a little bit more, and over the course of a day or so we started teasing out this idea for a little story. It was this really enjoyable process because we didn’t have an Actor on board and it was basically just gonna be me, it was nice and it was really good fun. I think it was the best way to close Cold Open because Cold Open gave me a lot of opportunities to bring my music to new places and to new people. So it was nice that we got to go back to it so long after the EP itself had come out and so close to when we were recording new music, it felt like a very natural conclusion and felt like we were giving it a proper send off.
I understand that you spent some time in the lovely Monique Studios with Christian Best, working towards your first album All The Beds We’ve Been In, how’s that process been for you?
J: Wonderful. I really love working with Christian, he’s got such a great way with people and such a great way with… I mean, saying he has a great way with music is definitely underselling him, he’s got a great ear for how a song should sound. He seems to be able to do this across the board which is obviously a mark of a great producer, I’ve seen so many other acts come out of his studio and their music sounds stronger for him having been a part of it. I can definitely say that was the case with me, cause when we went in to record the tracks, we worked very hard to get them to where they were but Christian definitely helped us to sort of… I suppose he helped to mature the songs a little bit, and he helped to bring all the songs to their final shape which was really nice. There’s just such a great atmosphere down there, there’s magic in that room that he has brought to it, and there’s a reason why people want to go down to him so much and why people wanna work with him. So he had done Cold Open, he’d actually just recorded the tracks for Cold Open, whereas this time I was really excited when he agreed to come on and produce the album. He really does just get the mood of each song and he gets the mood of the musicians he’s working with as well. He knows when to speed the day up and when to slow it down, and that was a really cool process to watch and a cool process to be a part of. I really loved it.
You’ve been living in London for about a year or so now, have you picked up and new insights or perspectives on your approach as an artist from being over there?
J: That’s a really insightful question. I mean I wouldn’t say I learned anything new as such, because I came out in the Cork music scene, and the Cork music scene is somewhere you can really learn a lot from. So when I was going over to London I think London is probably more hyperactive. There’s a lot going on there and it’s a much more communal music scene than I think it gets given credit for. There’s a very relaxed sort of confident vibe about musicians there in that they really wanna hear new music from their peers, and they’re also quite content with what they’re doing. It’s very much a you do you attitude, it’s very much like ‘that’s cool you’re doing that man, and I’m doing this over here’. Because it’s such a big city and there’s so much going on, so far it hasn’t felt like jarring, it’s actually felt like a really nice to place to be in and a really nice place to make music.
Your homecoming show at Coughlan’s is coming up on May 3rd and it’s looking on track to be a sell out, how much does this show mean to you?
J: Coughlan’s means a lot to me, it’s such a beautiful room and I’ve never had anything but great experiences in there. I think coming back to play in Cork and bringing a single back to Cork means an awful lot as well, and getting to do it in a room like Coughlan’s is very much the icing on the cake. It means a lot to be playing a full band show again, which we haven’t done in Ireland in a while, just over a year and Coughlan’s was the last Irish show we did. It feels exciting, it feels like something is starting again. It’s kinda that feeling when you get started in a new process and you’re building back up that momentum that you need as an independent musician to keep going and make an impact. So the Coughlan’s gig is a week after the single is released, so I’m also looking forward to the week before Coughlan’s. We’re gonna be practicing and we’re gonna be putting the songs and the set together. It means a lot as well that we get to play our music to a room full of people again I think that’s gonna be really great.
What do you think makes Coughlan’s a venue that so many aspire to play in, where you see so many calibre’s of artists choose to play there?
J: I think it’s the people that run it to be honest. I think they have a very set idea on what they want the venue to be, and from what I’ve seen it’s just such a welcoming venue. You come in there and you play and the funny thing about Coughlan’s is like – Obviously the first few gigs I did there was as a support act to some people, and when you’re a support act it can go one of two ways. You can be playing to a room of people and they can just be y’know at the bar getting their drinks or getting ready for the main act who, to be fair that’s who they’re there to see, or you can have a really attentive crowd. With Coughlan’s any gig I’ve ever played there the crowd has been so attentive, and I think that’s because the room demands it of the audience. It’s very much like if you don’t want to sit and listen to the music, then you can go outside to the beer garden or the bar, but this place here is for music. This is a place for people to appreciate art and new performers and have an evening of enjoyment through music. I think that comes from a certain respect that the venue has built up for itself. People don’t go into Coughlan’s and stand and talk while an act is playing, they realize you know we’re here, we’re listening to music now we’re not here for a night out of chatting. It’s never forced on you, it’s just kinda like, it’s like when you go into a church, you don’t know why you’re supposed to be quiet in a church, you just know you are. People sort of observe that, I think it just has that weightiness and that authenticity to it, just that organic feeling that just makes everyone go yeah I’m in Coughlan’s and I wanna see some music. And you’re right up in the face of the musicians as well so like it’s hard for you to stand at the edge of the stage and talk over them, you will feel the heat of their stares pretty quickly!
So looking further forward beyond Coughlan’s, you’ve just been announced for Indiependence music festival once again this year, is this perhaps the first of a few announcements from the festival circuit?
J: Yeah, the plan is to tour the UK and Ireland throughout May-July this year, and that will include a few festivals as well. There’ll be more announcements to come, Indiependence is always a very special one because I’ve been involved in the festival in some capacity for a long time. The feeling of getting asked back, or knowing you have a slot and that’s where you’ll be for the August bank holiday weekend, it never loses it’s shine. Every year at the start of the year when I’m putting stuff in my calendar, like what do I need to put aside, where am I gonna be at certain weekends of the year, one of the first weekends that gets blocked off is Indiependence weekend. To be able to go back and to play, especially with new music and new releases is really exciting.
To wrap this up, you posted on Facebook that you’ve signed off on the artwork for your next 3 singles, after AAAM when are you aiming to put out your next song?
J: The next single should be out just before Indiependence, the second last weekend in July. The next one a few months after that. Don’t tie me to that date but it’s gonna just a few months after AAAM, the only reason we wouldn’t release a single is I suppose if we’re still working at getting AAAM out there. But the plans are that we have the next 2 singles after AAAM kinda ready to go, and then the plan then is to release the full album sometime next year. I love the tracks on the album, I just think my music has grown a little bit since we recorded the original tracks and so I think there will be a few new additions to what is going to be ‘All The Beds We’ve Been In’. The next few months are gonna be focused on showing people what we’ve done and then bringing it out in a fuller form in 2020 then.