INTERVIEW: Vince James



Vince James


I have been speaking with Vince James


about his new song, The Man I Want to Be. It is a song dedicated to his grandfather – who is still alive and happily married. I ask about the track and what it means to him; whether there is going to be new material arriving down the tracks; the musicians who have impacted and inspired his path – and whether there are any gigs coming up.

James is from South Wales – a part of the world with more good music than you’d think. The songwriter talks about the area and the talent present there; working with Adam Richards on his recent material – and why Jake Bugg is a big inspiration of his.


Hi Vince. How has your week been? How are you?

I'm doing good, thanks! My week has been filled with lots of positives - and some really exciting news.

So…a pretty satisfying week overall!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I'm Vince. I play my own songs - and have been for about nine years now. I'd say music is probably the most important thing in my life - along with my family and friends. I try to take all the influences I've experienced up until now and put them into my songs. I was quite fortunate that my parents listened to such great records when I was growing up - because I think it definitely sparked something within me that made me want to make great records, too!

That, and I think, I just grew up around the time that so many great bands and artists were available to listen to.

The Man I Want to Be seems to have some personal background. What is the inspiration behind it?

There's quite a personal meaning behind the song - because I wrote it for my granddad; which I gave him as an 80th birthday present. It really just talks about all the fun and mischievous things us grandkids used to get up to whilst growing up - which he was always a massive part of. It talks about his younger days and how he used to save up money from working down the mines - and then use it to go on the prowl in the local town in hope of finding the right woman…which, eventually, he managed to do - and that's when he met my grandmother which, I’m pleased to say, are both still happily married to this day.

Is an artist like Jake Bugg a big influence of yours? I hear some of his shades in your sounds.

At the time, when I was writing this record, his music was a big inspiration to me - and I did feel a certain connection to it. The style he had was particularly appealing to me. He still continues to impress me today with his music. But, there were a lot of influences I had back then - that came a lot from listening to the type and style of music that Jake Bugg plays. I think it was just because he managed to create his very own modernised interpretation of that style of music - and made it popular music to listen to in the U.K. at the time.

That is why I was so influenced by him.


What is the music scene like in Cardiff right now (where you are from)?

It's come a long way in regards to the opportunities it has to offer musicians. There are plenty of great venues to play - just in Cardiff alone They are always busy and have bands/artists playing on a nightly basis. There's also a few different scheme's that help musicians to become recognised more easily - and help them to get more exposure as artists (e.g. BBC Horizons, Forte Project). At the moment, South Wales is a pretty good place to be for musicians looking for opportunities. As far as influences go; I'm sure there's plenty to be found in South Wales...

I think, if you’re a creative kind of person, you’re always trying to take inspiration from something; no matter where you are.

Is there more material coming from you?

There's plenty more material to come!

I'm working hard in the studio at the moment; on the next releases. You can expect another record from me at the start of next year - and in the many months that follow too. I'm also starting to make plans to record an album - which means choosing what songs to be featured on it.

Writing new material; so, I have plenty of songs to choose from; to make it the best album I possibly can.


What has been your best memory from this year?

Probably would have to be when I played The Great Escape fest. It had great venues, amazing location and (just) an overall exciting atmosphere about the place. I was fortunate enough to be able to perform twice: once at an indoor venue not far from the beach and once on an outdoor stage in the town centre. I'd have to say I preferred playing the outdoor stage – (just) because the sun was shining and the crowd were amazing! 

I’m definitely planning on returning to play at next year’s Great Escape.

Tell me how you came to work with Adam Richards?

I had a few songs that I wanted to record at the time to make an E.P. So, I asked around everyone I knew and someone suggested I give Adam a ring. I'd be the first to say I was pretty lazy back then - and would always put everything off until tomorrow (which meant I’d never get round to doing it). I decided to give him a call straight away. He asked me to come down to the studio and play him a few songs - he didn't seem all that fussed at first but, as time went on, it seemed the songs grew on him.

Next thing you know; its three years later and we're still recording and making records together…


Tell me about the artists you were inspired by when you were young…

There's a lot.

I'd have to say one of them definitely has to be Jack Johnson. His music is so original: there are not many artists out there who have done what he has. His style of writing is flawless, I think. He's consistently managed to release one great record after the other - and still remained a modest and respectable artist. The second would have to be Van Morrison. The guy has done so much for music. Every time I stick one of his records on; it always seems to take me to a happy place. I think artists like him are legends in their own right and their music is timeless - which will still be appreciated in many years to come.

Which artists and genres did you grow up listening to? What type of music do you listen to?

I try not to focus on one particular genre of music - simply because it can get a bit tedious. I have huge respect for all types of music, including Americana. I grew up mainly listening to American music - so I’ll always have a bit of a soft-spot for it. But, as time passes, you’re introduced to so many other new and exciting genres of music - which I always try to take influence from and use in my songs. 


Which new artists do we need to check out?

I would highly recommend you check out The Ha'pennies - who are a London band; emerging on the scene. Their music is filled with Blues, Rock - and they're generally just a really fun band to listen to. They have an amazing energy about them; when they play live that definitely makes you want to move your feet and jump around!

Another band I can recommend - who is probably a little bit more well-known - is Whitney. They're an American band from Chicago. Their music is just really pleasant: it makes me feel like I’m a teenager again - enjoying summer with my mates. Their musicality is brilliant, too; there's a bit of everything going on strings, piano; horns etc. Definitely one of the best finds I've had recently.


IN THIS PHOTO: Whitney/PHOTO CREDITMiranda Chiechi

Which are your three favourite albums? Which are you most inspired by?

Conspiracy of One - The Offspring

It was the first album I ever bought. I must have been around thirteen-years-old when I got it. I was obsessed with they're single from that album, Original Prankster - I played it on-repeat wherever I went which, I’m pretty sure, was on my portable C.D player (which were incredibly trendy back then!). 

In Between Dreams - Jack Johnson

Can't fault a single song on this album: everyone is a winner for me. I grew up listening to it and it has influenced me so much! Every time I listen to it; it's like stepping into a time-machine that takes me back to when I was starting to properly play music. I'd always be playing songs from this album and trying to mimic them as best as possible - I really do think it helped me to understand the whole concept of writing a song - which would eventually help me to create all the songs that I have today.

A/B - Kaleo

Hands-down; the best album I've listened to this year. Again; I can’t fault a single song on it. It's amazing how this band have managed to become so widely recognized - being that they're from such an isolated place in the world that only has a population of 334,252 people. It's not surprising though because their music is so slick - like a brand-new sport's car.

Have you any advice for new songwriters coming through?

Enjoy it, have fun and let the good times roll!


Have you got any gigs coming up soon?

I've got a show on the 8th Nov. at the Lock Tavern (in Camden, London); another on 9th Nov. supporting The Undertones at the Birmingham 02 Academy; also, another show (supporting The Undertones) on 10th Nov at The Tramshed, Cardiff.

What have you got planned for this Christmas?

What I normally get up to around Christmas is spend time with family and friends – but, it's also one of the best times of year to play gigs - just because everyone's so merry and just generally in good spirits. So, the atmosphere at gigs is incredible. I don't recall thinking anyone should work around Christmas time if they can help it.

I thought you were meant put your feet up and relax that time of year?!

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song for me to play...

Kaleo - Hot Blood


Follow Vince James