Interview: James Perryman on new single ‘Speak To Me The Words’

It’s been almost three years to the day since we last heard from West London singer-songwriter James Perryman. At that point he was riding high on his incredibly powerful The Narrow Gate EPwhich he promptly followed up with… well, nothing. While it’s fair to say that much of this long wait can be easily attributed to that pandemic which has been in the news so much recently, it’s also indicative of the amount of craftsmanship into which James puts into every composition, a fact highlighted by the excellent new single ‘Speak To Me The Words’. The first of four planned outings over the coming months, Perryman is back in fine form, so Joyzine took a little time to catch up with him, find out what the new song is about and to discover what he’s planning next. 

Hi James, it’s been a while but you’re back with a new single!

Indeed.  It’s called ‘Speak To Me The Words’.  It’s nice to finally release something again.  It’s been a few years since my last EP The Narrow Gate came out.  In all honesty this single has been ready for a while, but I just didn’t know what to do with it earlier on in the pandemic, as there were no gigs or anything.  Ironically there still aren’t really, but I felt it was time to put it out and share it with everyone.

I was reading that there aren’t many creatives who’ve had a bad lockdown as most of the time they live inside their own head anyway. How was your experience? 

Haha!  I’m not sure I would describe it as a good lockdown – I’ve been going out of my mind a bit, but yes, it has been creative. In the first lockdown I wrote six new songs and then a few more in the later lockdowns. It definitely brought out some dark themes, but it also brought out some different stuff too, which was cool.  I’ve been slowly getting a bit bored of straight up Americana – some of the newer songs are a bit more rocky and one is even kind of Lo-Fi Electronic.  It’s nice to stretch myself and let it all out. I think the lockdowns did allow that, ‘cause it was unexpected and there was no pressure. My dad asked me a while ago why I listen to such a broad range of music but only write and put out a fairly narrow range. That made me ponder a lot and the lockdowns were a good opportunity to explore some new things.

Your new single. ‘Speak To Me The Words’ deals with mental health and perception. You’re known for wearing your heart on your sleeve, but this still feels brave.

Haha, yeah it does feel a bit uncomfortable. Despite choosing to perform and release music publicly, I hate self-promotion. It’s been a bit weird sharing such a personal song and encouraging everyone to listen to it. The song was written during a period of counselling I did, so I was definitely laying it bare. But it felt important to release it, as I think a lot of people share these feelings – certainly amidst Covid – and it’s better to speak about it and de-stigmatise it.

This is the first of four new singles! Any reason for the quadrilogy? 

After the gap since my last EP I didn’t want to just put out another bunch of songs all in one go, especially when I can’t play proper shows to promote it. I thought it’d be better to release a single every few months, to remind people I’m still here. Hopefully that way they won’t get sick of me all in one go. I’m excited about the next single ‘People I Knew’.  It’s a disco country song and  there’s definitely not enough of those around.  It makes me want to shake my booty – hopefully it’ll do the same for everyone else. I may still reduce it to a trilogy of singles though. There’s another very introspective song, which I’m not sure if I want to release or not.  I’ve written so much new stuff that I’m keen to move on and try to put out some of that.

Now that the era of lockdowns is (hopefully) ending… What’s the plan? Back to business as usual or something else?

I really hope gigs will open up properly again. I’ve really missed watching and playing live music. I don’t entirely know what I want to do next. Some of the guys I was playing with before aren’t really around now. Also, because of writing a much broader range of new material I’m wondering about trying to switch it up a bit.  I’m hoping to find some new musicians to jam with – maybe even form an actual band, rather than performing as a solo artist. 

I’d definitely like to rock a bit more. As much as I love three part harmonies and country music, I’m a huge fan of all things rock and I’d love to channel that energy and cut loose a bit. It’d be great to play some more stuff that grooves a bit more. I’d love to be in a band with multiple singers and writers, rather than just lots of me. I’ve always loved bands with multiple singers and it’d give me a chance to play a bit more guitar.

Anything else you’d like to tell the readers of Joyzine?

Everyone should listen to the newest Clean Cut Kid album Mothers Milk because it’s great!  Other than that please check out my new single ‘Speak To Me The Words’ and my previous EP ‘The Narrow Gate’. There’ll be more coming soon, so keep an eye (or ear) out.  Also, let me know if you wanna join a band!

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Interview by Peter Richard Adams

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