“This is a raw, soulful record, it had to be…” - hmv.com talks to James Arthur
Back in the summer of 2014 it looked like we’d heard from 2012 X-Factor winner James Arthur for the last time. After a troubled campaign promoting his self-titled debut album the singer had been dropped and dismissed by Simon Cowell’s SyCo label and there were daily reports about his personal difficulties in the tabloids.
But just over two years later he’s got himself together and is back with a brand new album titled, appropriately, Back From The Edge. We called him up to find all about how he made it…
How did making Back From The Edge compare to your debut?
“It was very, very different. When you’ve come from a show like The X-Factor you have to strike the balance between being public property and an artist who wants to do what they want to do. There are a lot of producers on that album too.”
How do you look back on that album?
“I think of it as a collection of decent pop songs, whereas on this album I had 100% control and I enjoyed every minute of it. There’s a lot more of my character on this album, it’s a much more honest album, it’s 100% who I am. It was a lot more work, I was very meticulous and I spent hours and hours on everything. It was much harder to do, but much more enjoyable.”
Did you keep writing the whole time you were between labels and sorting things out?
“I kept collecting songs, but there were periods where I did stop, I had a couple of periods where I completely lost my self-belief and I didn’t pick up the guitar, but I kept going. These songs come from the last three years, but I’d say most of the tracks come from the last 12 months, that was when I was learning to be happy again and comfortable with myself.”
You talked last time about wanting to have more of an urban influence on your next album, have you managed to do that?
“I think there is. There’s a couple of rap breaks that I’ve managed to include, there wasn’t any of that on the first album. I’d still like to go even more urban on the next record, I’d like that to be harder and more hip-hop and R&B. This is a raw, soulful record, it had to be.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“There’s a theme of redemption and facing adversity on all the tracks. There’s nothing overthought or too metaphorical. Nothing on this album is me trying too hard.”
When did you settle on the title of Back From The Edge? Was that there the whole time?
“No it came very late in the process, I didn’t have a title for ages, until the very last minute. I looked through all the song titles and the one that resonated the most. I always thought it was the best way to open the album and why not give it the title too?”
Finally you’ve got some small UK shows booked for December, you must be looking forward to hitting the road again?
“We’re going out with a band. It won’t be the full album tour, it’ll be a mix of this album and the old stuff. But there will be a lot of energy and me diving around the place like a madman. I can’t wait.”