Singer-songwriter Chris James introduces us to his unique blend of stunning cinematic-folk on his new EP ‘Space In The Clouds’, out on 9th December 2016 via AWAL. Take a look below at his life-affirming tracks and stream his new single ‘Stairs Up To The Sun‘ here.
Bjork – Venus As A Boy
Debut pretty much soundtracked those early teenage years when I started going out with mates in the evening, house parties etc. That’s a really exciting time in life, when you start going out discovering things, and Bjork’s album was the best soundtrack I could’ve hoped for. It’s all going on in that album, it’s an incredible journey and this song in particular is just stunning. I’m a massive fan of all her work, I was recently lucky enough to see her at the Royal Albert Hall and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen, as was Glastonbury when I was on the front row. Mind blowing.
Tricky – Makes Me Wanna Die
Years ago when I was a student, my girlfriend at the time and I used to listen to this song all the time. It was a really special song for us, and it still reminds me of being young and in love. Both vocal takes are super intimate together, which makes it a stunning listen. I absolutely love the production, it’s so, so raw, which given the subject matter makes it resonate even more.
Prince – If I was Your Girlfriend
When I was a kid, I only owned Prince records, I had loads of them, but whenever I heard any other music, I just thought “well that’s not as good as Prince” and went back to my Prince records. Sign Of The Times is really his most complete masterpiece I think, and this song is a great example of the album. Who writes songs as good as this, AND produces them himself so so well? – only Prince. I saw him 4 times, and they were 4 of the greatest gigs I’ve been lucky enough to see. Was devastated to hear the news this year, we love you Prince.
My Brightest Diamond – Apple
Shara Worden is a good friend of mine. I recorded a duet with her called I’m On Fire (Stateless). I travelled over to NYC and recorded in her flat in Brooklyn, I crashed on her floor, and we shot a low (no) budget music video in the shipyards out of town, thanks to Anne Paas. It was a very special experience for me, because I love her music, I’m such a huge fan, I genuinely think she’s one of the most exciting artists on the planet, and I’m massively grateful to count her as a friend. If you get the chance to see her live take it because she’s electric on stage. In this song, Apple, I like how she manages to make folding laundry on a saturday really sexy. how did she do that?
Kate Bush – Cloudbusting
This song was a massive part of my life in my teenage years. I used to play a cover of it with my band at the time. I totally love Kate Bush. She’s an influence, and also a massive inspiration. I’ve actually spent quite a lot of time over the years learning about her. I remember I really enjoying writing an analysis of one her songs for a music project at school, ha ha! I love loads of her songs, and I still listen to her often, but this one just captures those memories. The video is amazing, it was a really groundbreaking video at the time.
Squarepusher – My Red Hot Car
You can’t mess with this track. If I want to jump around, then this goes on loud. Reminds me of very fun times, dancing with mates, and epic nights out.
Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ was one of the main soundtracks to my teenage years, and I completely love all his songs. This one in particular, is incredible. The lyrics are so beautiful, and the way it builds, it’s really a masterpiece. Reminds me of very late nights with friends, with all of us singing along to his songs, there was a group of us who knew every word.
Nina Simone – Don’t Explain
What can I say about Nina Simone, undoubtedly in the pantheon of the greatest of all time. I love her. I’ve always listened to her growing up, there are key moments in my life where I have been moved to tears by her voice, her outstanding piano playing, and what she was saying. I’m so so grateful to her. This song influenced me, the way the lyrics deal with adultery and heart ache in such a stunningly beautiful way.
DM Stith – Summer Madness
I was introduced to DM’s music by Shara Worden, and I instantly became a massive fan. His first album is a masterpiece, and it’s a tragedy more people don’t know it. After Shara introduced us, I managed to get him to sing on one of my new songs ‘Space In The Clouds’ and he recorded at my flat in London. We got to hang out and became friends, and I’ve seen him play live. I’m thankful for that time we spent together. His lyrics are ridiculously good. This song and this guy in general really is as good as it gets.
Nick Drake – Riverman
Wow, this guy, deep breath… A good friend, who sadly passed away recently, put me on to Nick Drake years ago. When he died, I recorded a cover of it with tears in my eyes as a tribute to my friend, and to Nick Drake, I sent it to his brother (also a Drake fan) and he liked it and that meant a lot to me. I love and treasure Drake’s output, and I will be listening to his records for the rest of my life. It’s so tragic what happened to him, it breaks my heart, and that more people didn’t know about him when he was alive. His work brings me so much comfort and warmth. In difficult times, I always reach for Drake. He was an incredibly special writer, and exceptional guitarist, and I hope his music is always playing somewhere.