Interview : James King

Interview : James King

The Singer/songwriter has been making music and playing the guitar since the age of 8. He recently completed the first leg of a 50 date UK Eco Schools tour with the charity ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ where he’s been performing his single ‘Breathe’. He’s one to watch!

For anyone just discovering you, can you please introduce yourself and your music?

Hello, my name is James King. I sing, play guitar, I’m trying to learn piano and I used to DJ. My music is a mixture of folk, acoustic, pop and rock. I am consistently trying to define my sound and improve in all aspects. Firstly for the listeners out there but also for myself, I want to take my listeners through my progression. I don’t want to just get to one level and then stick to it. I want to really push myself, so that instead of me dying out and my listeners getting bored, they can enjoy each track as they did the last.

We’re enjoying your single ‘Breathe’. We’d love to know more about how the song came about and what the song is about.

The song came about because my manager approached me with it and I wanted to see if I could bring it into a modern format. While also helping a cause, that is much bigger than just me doing things for myself.

The song has reached a lot of people through the ‘Keep Britain Tidy and Eco Schools’ tour. What does the role of being an Eco Ambassador entail and does it bring any responsibilities?

Being an Eco ambassador for me entails one very simple thing and that is to inspire for the greater good. I don’t want to tell anyone what to do, that isn’t my place. What I want to do, is show people that change is possible. Whether it may be the older generation who are stuck in their ways (not all but some) or the younger generation, who are at the point where they are trying to find things to get enthusiastic about, but can’t because they aren’t shown in a lively enough way. My responsibilities personally are just to think before I act, what will happen if I do this? Will it affect other people or my environment? Will my actions have a reaction? Will it be good?

My involvement with the Breathe campaign came about, when my manager approached me with the song ‘Breathe’ and showed me how he saw the project going. I really thought I could lend a helping hand and do my bit.

Why should people care about our rainforests and is there anything people can do to support with highlighting the major environmental issues on our planet?

Rainforests have such a high concentration of photosynthesising vegetation, but not just that. They also have very delicate eco systems, built up of plants and animals, some seen nowhere else on this Earth. This is common knowledge and so I won’t patronise anyone with the facts and figures. This is of a high importance to us and the world we live in. So if people are inclined to get involved, then it’s simple. A few small changes and actions in your life could have massive effects on the environment and people around you. Personally, I believe that influencing the people around you is one of the best things you can do.

Who were your musical role models when you were growing up?

Growing up I was very easily influenced. I went from loving Skater pop/punk such as Blink 182 and Sum41 to electronic music like Jamie XX and so on. I would have to say my three big inspirations were Ben Howard, BB King and Jack Steadman. Although my music doesn’t exactly sound like theirs, I loved them more for their style of songwriting or how they were on stage.

How important do you think positive and diverse role models are to encouraging kids of all backgrounds to aim high and follow their dreams?

My aim is to work hard, so my dreams are no longer that. Everyone has dreams, it’s the people who follow them to the very end that triumph a large majority of the time. We are a society of settlers, people who settle on second best because I admit, times can become unbelievably hard, to the point that people quit.

It’s extremely important for young people to have role models of many different backgrounds because no story is the same (bit of a cliché, but it’s very true). Once people realise that comparing themselves to others does nothing but make you lose track of what you are, then fulfilling their wants and desires becomes so much easier. Another must is to aim high! What is the point of aiming for something that is possible, at the end you are happy but nowhere near as happy as you would be achieving something that you thought was impossible.

“A few small changes and actions in your life could have massive effects on the environment and people around you.”

Were you encouraged to follow your dreams by your family when you were growing up? What about at school – what was the career advice like and did it encourage careers in more creative sectors?

Most of my family have been incredibly supportive, more and more of them became more supportive as I proved myself and showed what I really could do. One problem with being an introvert is that because you never show your full potential, people expect you not to be able to achieve things you know you can achieve. It was more the fact that my family are very protective and so it was hard for them to see me vulnerable.

I never took much interest in school unless it was with something I was interested in, and so most advice at that age was lost on me. One bit of advice I got was that if you do something you love enough eventually the money will come.

“Negativity and trolling is something I think people can take to a new extreme.”

Can we expect an album in the near future?

I’ll be releasing my first of three EPs in July. I’m just organising artwork and launch parties at the moment. There is no key theme to the EP as I wanted to diversify the sounds and meanings behind it.

The launch party will be in July too and if anyone wants to come, keep updated on my Twitter: @JamesKing_Music or on my website

Video : Watch the video for James’ single Breathe. The song is an environmental call-to-action, written by Luc Floreani, and is the theme song to the Eco-Schools drive, to educate the next generation to be better custodians of our planet.

The single is available to download from iTunes now.

What has been your music career highlight to date and what are you most proud of?

The thing I’m most proud of is moving down to London and establishing myself as an artist. My music career highlight is probably playing at Under the Apple Tree sessions with Whispering Bob Harris. It was the first time I sat there and thought “Wow! Look how far I’ve come since I started!”.

I can admit, that sometimes I can be impatient and feel like my rate of growth isn’t quick enough, I push myself quite a lot when I think about it. So to have the experience of playing on a sessions, that I have watched on Youtube for a long time, it was really nice.

When are you at your happiest?

There are two different types of happy for me. First is after I’ve made a lovely meal, finished it off and sat down to contently watch rubbish TV. Second is when I’m with my friends, either at home or out somewhere.

How important is social media to you for connecting with your fans and for sharing your music?

I think it’s really important to stay in touch with your fans one way or another. We do live in an age where everyone wants all their information in one place, for example they want to be listening to their favourite song while reading a newspaper, most people now use their phones. It also means that getting music out there is riding on the chance that someone manages somehow find you.

“One problem with being an introvert is that because you never show your full potential, people expect you not to be able to achieve things you know you can achieve.”

Are there any downsides to social media and people being so accessible? Have you ever experienced any negativity or trolling?

Negativity and trolling is something I think people can take to a new extreme. Firstly, I don’t think when it’s done, it’s seen as serious to the person doing it because to them it’s just words on a screen and so the reality is tarnished. But also the “victims” I think take it too seriously, I put it down to the fact that everyone has their opinion and there are billions of people on earth that probably have a different opinion to them. Most of the people who do it have no lives, I feel sorry for them more than anything. If they have to put someone down to feel adequate, that is a pretty poor life to have. But honestly, some of this stuff is meant to be a joke so treat it that way. If someone laughs at you, is it not the best reaction to laugh back?! Laugh at how they probably sat at home alone thinking for most of the afternoon, thinking about the perfect way to laugh at you or spite you. Is there nothing more comical? I’m very lucky to say I’ve never experienced full scale trolling, although entrees are welcomed.

What does the rest of 2015 have in store for you?

Well, it feels like 2015 has flown by! I have so much to do in such a short amount of time. Summer will be awesome, I’m looking forward to playing some festivals, releasing my EP in July, possibly making a music video and then getting in the studio to get some new stuff recorded. I also look forward to refining my sound and taking in a interesting direction. I’m now starting to look at forming a backing band for those bigger shows that are starting to head my way.

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About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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