''If I could, I’d have put three albums out this year, I've got that much material'' - hmv.com meets James Arthur
Before he met over 300 fans at a signing at HMV Oxford Street yesterday (November 4), James Arthur sat down for a quick chat with hmv.com about his new album, his plans for 2014 and why people might be surprised by his influences….
Your album is finally out this week, how are you feeling now?
I’m feeling more relieved than anything else. I see this as the first step to becoming a fully developed recording artist rather than a defining moment. I’m still developing my style; I’m still developing my sound as a major label artist. I had a style before I was signed, but now I’m developing my commercial sound as well as trying to strike a balance between authentic music and music that the masses will love. I’ll be really interested to hear how it’s received.
Obviously it’s been 11 months since you won the X-Factor, do you wish you’d been able to get the album out sooner? Or does this feel like the right amount of time?
Of course I wish it would have come out sooner, if I could, I’d have put three albums out this year, I’ve got that much material. But thanks to the success of ‘Impossible’, I haven’t had to rush my album and I feel like we’ve got a better album than we would have done without that. Hopefully people will appreciate that more than getting a quick fix.
How did you record it? In one long session? Or in little bursts?
It was recorded in little bursts. It was recorded throughout the year, almost every day I was in sessions. If I wasn’t in the studio, I was doing a festival or doing some promo.
There are some big name producers on the record, like Naughty Boy and Salaam Remi, how much say did you get over who you worked with?
I did shout some names out when we were talking about it. I definitely shouted Salaam’s name, I already knew Naughty Boy wanted to work with me and I shouted out Labrinth’s name, and I got to work with him.
There are a lot of people that it’s mandatory that you have to work with, I worked with several producers in America and several here and for my next record I certainly won’t be doing that. It’s not conducive to being creative; it takes a couple of days to build up a rapport with a producer and then after that you’re on to the next one. That fucks up your creativity, so that’s the only hindrance I’ve had on this record. But I knew there was going to be a lot of fathers on this record, but it’s my debut. Next time I want to only work with one or two producers.
"I’d love to do an album in all kinds of genres. I’d love to do a rock album, I’d love to do a soul album, I’d love to do a hip-hop album"
You’ve included collaborations with Emeli Sande and Chasing Grace on the album, how did they come about?
Chasing Grace are a really great contemporary folk band and they’re amazing songwriters. They were great to work with and I’m really pleased I could get them on the album.
Emeli Sande is one of my idols, one of my favourite artists on the planet, she’s incredible, and I’d love to work with her again.
The album feels very influenced by urban music, do you think that will surprise a lot of people when they hear it?
A lot of people don’t know this, but my biggest influence is hip-hop. On the show, I didn’t get the chance to do much hip-hop, I didn’t rap. Before I did the X-Fator I was a singer/rapper, kind of like Plan B, but obviously a lot more Northern!
I couldn’t show that off on the show because you get watered down. It’s a Saturday night TV show and the raps that I write are too inappropriate, I wasn’t prepared to censor myself so I left that side of myself out. On this album though I feel like I brought that through a lot more.
I’d love to do an album in all kinds of genres. I’d love to do a rock album, I’d love to do a soul album and I’d love to do a hip-hop album.
Have you already started thinking about your next record?
There’s a couple of tracks that I wrote this summer that could definitely make the next record. Like I said, I could put two more albums out now if I wanted, I’ve got that much material.
Obviously next year you’re going to be touring a lot. What can you tell us about the live show you’re planning?
Touring will be the name of the game next year, UK in January, Europe in February, Australia in March, States after that. Hopefully I’ll get on to Coachella.
Playing live is where I live; it’s what I love. Me and my musical director Daniel Bingham are planning something very special, a show that really makes the album tracks come to life. I’d go as far as to say that our show will be the best show from a UK artist next year, we’re amazing live. I’ve made a conscious decision to get real musicians in my band, not just dudes that look good. I’m not interested in having some little Conor Maynard band, I want real players, real musos. Luckily they look good too.
Finally, what’s been your favourite track of 2013?
I’d have to say Zombie by SHOTTY HORROH, it’s an amazing track.
James Arthur’s self-titled debut album is out now.