I have been speaking with James Ghareeb about…
his latest track, Do It with Luv. The single’s artwork depicts the songwriter slumped on a sofa – on a lawn - surrounded by debris. I wondered whether that image tied to the song’s themes and, indeed, what the song was about. I ask how his music has developed since 2015’s Hanging from the Stars and whether his time posting to Vine – an eclectic selection of cover versions – strengthened him as an artist.
Ghareeb reveals his gig plans and the music he is inspired by; what the Chicago-raised musician is up to later in the year – and what the local scene is like where he is based in Peoria.
Hi, James. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey, I’ve been great.
Just got back to Chicago from rehearsal - for my next gig out in Peoria.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a Pop singer from Chicago. I am relocating to Los Angeles. I have an awesome band that plays with me that give Reggae and sexy vibes.
Do It with Luv is the new single. What can you reveal about its inception and was it based on a particular girl/event?
Surprisingly, it was not about a girl: it was more about life today and the struggles that the world is going through. It’s about spreading love and appreciating the goodness in the world - rather than letting negativity take over.
The artwork sees you slumped on a lawn, surrounded by the remnants of a living room. Is that a predicament you’ve faced and has love, in the past, left you a bit uprooted and shut out?
It’s more about the goofiness of the video and how to have more fun in life - it’s meant to inspire people to be more carefree.
PHOTO CREDIT: @joshuaburch
Your road into music was when you uploaded short clips to Vine. What was the reason for this and can you remember the first video you posted?!
L.o.L. I don’t remember the first video I posted...
Vine was a great way to share original and covers. I connected to a lot of people from it and actually made a few great friends from it.
Many of the songs you tackled were by mainstream Pop artists. Is that where a lot of your current inspiration comes from – or do you find yourself taking influence from various other areas?
To be honest, I don’t find much inspiration in Pop artists' work - except for John Mayer, of course. A lot of my inspiration stems from Folk. For a long time, I’ve gone to Ben Howard, Bon Iver and JP Cooper for my inspiration.
How would you say your music has developed since 2015’s Hanging from the Stars? Have you grown more confident as a performer?
I have definitely grown as a performer and a musician.
My work now sounds a lot more professional and structured - with many more diverse sounds and instruments.
Your sophomore release is approaching. Can you tell me how you came to work with Tony Ghantous and what tracks will be on the new E.P.?
I’ve been working with Tony for a couple years and I am very blessed to have him and his experience. I, unfortunately, can’t give away much detail - but a couple of my favourites are Colours and Get the Whole World High.
Peoria, Illinois is where you were raised. (It seems pretty bitching). What is it like for an aspiring musician and how has the landscape and people inspired you?
To be honest...Peoria is not the best place to follow your dream.
But, if you truly believe in yourself, others will start to believe in you. With that being said; I began to be inspired by the emptiness I felt. Watching people start to believe in me made me stride so much further to what I truly want.
Also...the silent cornfields do kinda help sometimes. L.o.L.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to? How important are periods like 1990s’ R&B to your current sounds?
If we are being honest, there was definitely a time where I put on a jean-jacket and sang Usher in the mirror.
I, of course, love my NSYNC and Backstreet Boys.
Your fanbase is loyal and large. What message would you send to them right now?
I would first off say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you...
Second of all; I would say if you have a dream; make sure you are doing everything in your power to make it come to life.
What tour dates are coming up? Any plans with regards coming to the U.K.?
I have a very big show with Matt Nathanson, coming up this October, and I also have a few in Chicago.
As for the U.K.; I hope I make it out there after the album drops (for a European tour).
IN THIS PHOTO: Dermot Kennedy
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Every Kingdom by Ben Howard
It helped me through very low times.
How to Save a Life by The Fray
The 1975’s first album (The 1975)
It helped me to not care about what people thought. Matty is a true inspiration.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Keep grinding: if you want something bad enough, you will get it.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Play Deep the Water by Lewis Watson
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