Today, I’m catching up with James Hope, a young singer-songwriter from Leeds, as he releases his first single ‘My Old Town’ for download. His music speaks of his upbringing and the lives of his peers around him and he is working tirelessly to make sure the music representing his influences and his own experiences is heard by as many as possible. His drive for success is borne out of being a voice for his generation, not making money, and while he is walking a well trodden path, he knows the journey will not be an easy one.
How would you describe your musical style?
I like my music to be as hard hitting as possible. The faster rock n roll songs pack a punch and have attitude while the ballads are full of raw emotion and soul. I would describe it as rock n roll with some big ballads thrown in there.
What music did you listen to growing up?
I listened to a lot of irish music from being little. Then, as I got into my teens I got into guitar and started listening to everything: Oasis, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash … anything with guitars in that wasn’t too heavy.
What instruments did you play growing up?
I first learned guitar and with that came bass. As i got older, I taught myself a bit of piano. When I was about 15. I was made to do singing lessons at school to avoid detentions and my voice became my favourite instrument.
So, how does this translate in to what you play now?
Because I can play a lot of instruments, every record I’ve made has me playing every track except drums. I like it this way as I can do things exactly how I want.
Who was you first favourite band?
My mum used to love ‘Linger’ by The Cranberries so that springs to mind. But Oasis are the band i really got in to. Liam Gallagher was my hero growing up.
Who are your influences now?
As said previously, Liam Gallagher – I love the way he’s keeping rock n roll alive at the minute. I do like Kasabian (I have one of their songs tattooed on my neck!) But that’s about it to be honest. I don’t think there are any other bands about that I’m into or influence me at the minute. It takes a lot for me to really like a band.
How do you feel with the current state of the music industry?
This country needs more rock stars, more idols for kids to look up to. The bands and singers today are too nice. They are bland and afraid to say things that might upset people or cause a scene. At the minute, a normal kid would rather become a dj than a guitarist or a singer because it’s cool to be a dj. I am very passionate about this whole subject and I want show kids what a rock star is and show them it is cool. If I play to five people or 5000 people I will be a rock star on that stage …
So, what makes you stand out?
Apart from my bright orange jacket? ha ha. I’m real. I sing my heart out every time I’m in front of a mic. I write my music about real subjects that matter to me.
What’s it like being a musician in your home town?
I love the fact I’m a musician from Leeds. Leeds needs something musically to get behind, and the people of Leeds always get behind their own.
Do you find being a musician in Leeds a challenge or do you feel supported?
Erm … it’s not a challenge but i wouldn’t really depend on others to support me either. When I started doing this I did it for two reasons – first reason was to show my two kids what their dad created for when they are older and second, as i said earlier, to show kids guitar music is cool. I never did any of this to make money (in fact i have never charged anyone for one of my tracks or made money from a fan) – it’s never been just about money and that’s not the reason I’m doing this. Although Northern Exposure are doing a great job for me and are helping me reach these kids.
Whats next for you?
‘This Old Town is released for free download on the 25th February. My album should be released in July and then for the second half of year I’ll be planning a tour. So exciting!
Any exciting news you can share with us first?
Yes this may sound small but it is exciting for me. I finally have an album name – it’s going to be called ‘Kids In Snow’ and I’m designing the cover now.