Interview with JAMES GRAY
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
A. I have always loved music, even as a child. Over the years I have fallen in love with many different styles of music. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I don’t feel like I have any other choice but to play music.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
A. My favourite thing is to spend time in nature. I feel my best when I am performing or when I am in the bush.
How long have you been making music?
A. I started playing guitar when I was 12 and I played in a few different bands throughout highschool and afterschool. When I was 21 I started writing folk songs and trying to sing.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
A. I am based out of Muskoka Ontario. Muskoka is where I grew up. This area has influenced my music in many ways. As you can imagine it is not a bustling urban arts community. I feel very fortunate that Muskoka is a very supportive community that I can always come home to, the area is extremely supportive of local artists. This area has influenced my music by the supportive musicians that have helped me carve my path. It has also been an amazing influence due to the beautiful landscape and the time I have spent in the bush.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
A. Switzerland is my home away from home. A few years ago I was playing in a little cafe in a small town near Bern Switzerland and I met a very famous Swiss musician named “Polo Hofer”. Polo would come out to watch me perform, and after a few times he invited me to open for him. One of the most memorable shows that I have ever played was supporting Polo at a venue called “Muhle Hunziken”. Muhle is a 500 year old mill on the edge of Lake Thun that has been converted into a concert venue. It is magnificent! That evening I performed for hundreds of Swiss folks that were pin drop quiet after receiving an introduction from Polo in Swiss German. That was a pretty cool moment for a young fella from Muskoka!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
A. Again I would have to say Muhle Hunziken in Rubigen Switzerland. The Stockey centre in Parry Sound would be a close second. It is mind blowing. I would love to perform at Massey Hall one day. That one is a bit of a dream!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
A. I wouldn’t mind opening the stage for one of my heroes! Yusuf Cat Stevens, Damien Jurado or Gillian Welch.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
A. I think the biggest piece of advice I can offer any songwriter starting out is, “Don’t try to make sense of any of this.” I have run into many talented songwriters who give up because they measure their success and compare themselves to others too much. That can drive you crazy! Believe in yourself and remember that good things take time. A lot of time.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
A. My song “Think About Me” means the most to me. This song is about challenging the status quo and many of the current social barriers that many of us are currently facing.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
A. My song “Think About Me” seems to be requested the most! It is a story full of tongue and cheek lyrics and the audience loves to sing along at the chorus!
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
A. I live my life and try to gather as much information and learn from every situation that I can. Then when I write songs that learning seems to show itself. Songwriting is a hard thing to explain.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
A. Yes! For me that is what songwriting is all about. I believe that we as people could be much better caretakers of the earth, our selves and of our fellow humans. That seems to be what I am currently writing about the most.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
A. Yes! I am currently getting ready to head overseas to tour in Switzerland and Austria.
Also I will be touring around Ontario for the month of June.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
A. That is a great question. I post my gigs weekly on my Instagram account