Interview with Joseph James
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I always loved watching live music/performances even if just on TV. When I was old enough to watch live acts, something about the energy, creativity and production aspects hooked me. To this day, it's one of my favorite things to do whether from a jazz to rock concert. I love it!
If I didn't love music, I would say I would have probably pursued baseball or tennis as I'm still in love with those two sports both as a spectator and participant. The more practical alternative which is also a close second would have been a career in entertainment law. I've always loved reading entertainment law books and attending seminars in my spare time. I know...lol. Something about understanding the business aspects of the entertainment industry has always interested me. Raised by two tough Italian parents, I was always encouraged to know all sides of the business. It has helped me for years to keep my clients/artists out of harm's way with the many pitfalls that unfortunately taint the music business.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love sports, both watching and playing. I love good food and I love to watch a great movie or series late at night. They're all great outlets for me and a relaxing/enjoyable way to recharge my batteries.
How long have you been making music?
My whole life. My first professional gig was at 14 years old at a Mafia restaurant in NYC as orchestrated by my dad who had a printing company on Canal Street in NYC next to this restaurant. At the time I knew 4 standards and figured out how to improvise real quick after listening to the wise guys talk about what I could never repeat...
To this day I never knew the real reason why so many waiters were missing a finger or two.
My parent's always believed in hard work from early on. The only time they didn't was when I was hired to play a strip club my senior year in highschool. I loved it until my dad found out and came and got me. The dream was over. lol. Between highschool and college I played this Chinese restaurant in Hicksville, NY. Imagine that.
I ofter thought the giant goldfish were mouthing that I was a loser for doing so. In the end, I do love Chinese food and that's that.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I'm based out of New York. I work a lot in NY, Nashville, LA and the UK as gigs and sessions, fortunately, take me many places. Basically big music cities have the demand for great musicians. Nashville and LA have influenced my writing and production as I've been blessed to have and continue to work with some of the best session players/artists in the biz. One of my favorite documentaries is the Muscle Shoals sessions which has made some of the most iconic records to date. For so long, I prayed I would someday live at least one moment of the Muscle Shoals Sessions in my life. Not only did I find it in many Nashville and LA sessions, I continue to live some of those moments today. Undeniably some of the greatest musical inspiration with many of these sessions.
Tell me about your most memorable shows?
I love performing, big or small gigs, doesn't matter I just love entertaining. If I had to pick my most memorable show, it would be 2. The first Lady Gaga gig that we did at the Bitter End / NYC. It was amazing as the club was packed beyond limits and my invites of record executives proved to be fruitful as Stefani Germanotta (Gaga) signed her first deal with Def Jam a few months later. One other show that rocked my socks was the first show I played as a Keyboard player Ritchie Blackmore in Tokyo. 10,000 seats sold out and the craziest butterflies that ignited me from the initial downbeat. Amazing!!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I love any size venue that has great fans. It's the fans that make the show. Yes of course who doesn't like a 10-20000 seater but there's also the same magical feeling when I do an intimate 100 seater with a completely engaged audience.
I've not played MSG or O2 yet so I would have to say that those two arenas are definitely on my bucket list. With Valentine now added to Siriusxm and #25 on the Billboard AC Charts, I've been asked by 2 band managers If I'd like to join a tour as an opener this summer. Fingers crossed!!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I love my band and love the energy we create. If there's ever a guest performer list, some requests I'd would be to share the stage with Paul McCartney, Billy/Elton, Ed Sheeran as well as Norah Jones anytime they'd like.
In a jazz setting which is also a personal passion, I'd love to play with Mike Stern and Pat Metheny should wishes transend musical styles.
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?
If you're just getting into the biz, make sure you truly love what you're doing and ask yourself if you can do it forever come what may. Bottom line, you need to be able to love it even when it doesn't love you back.
I would give the same exact advice to my younger self today.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I love all of the songs on my new record. Since Covid hit, I went into this creative, survival cocoon that manifested into the next version of me '5.5 as the new album is titled.
To list all 16 new songs would take up too much space so I'll give you a handful of potential follow up singles:
My Favorite you
For All You Know
These four songs best outline my life from where I came from, surviving Covid and the way I see the future.
'My Favorite You' goes out to those who stand by your side no matter what. 'One' is about the one chance/shot you get and you should take because you should never live with regrets. 'For All You Know' is the follow up to One as tomorrow might never come or be the way you thought it would be, so live for the now. Better Day is the aftermath of blind leaps. Thank God for Better Days.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I love this entire album. With that being said the four songs above have become staples that many think are covers they've heard and continue to request. In addition, 'All Of My Lovin,' Find Your Way Back Home and
'It Don't Matter Now' have also become crowd favorites as of late both with the band and as a soloist.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
A great question that I don't truly know the answer to. I've thought about this and all I can say is that something chemically or cosmically happens when the moment hits me that takes me to this creative, timeless and limitless place. A place where melody and lyrics marry a song form and a song is born. It's not to say they're all hits to everybody but some clearly stand out and the ones that don't somehow act as seeds to future ideas.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music? if so please tell me about them.
The messages in my music are mostly about my life. I typically don't do well at analyzing or trying to understand others as managing my own well being is a full time job.
Do you have any new singles, videos, or albums out that you would like to tell me and your fans about?
In addition to the aforementioned, I will have a new single right after Valentine's Day. I need to see Valentine through as it's still on the rise.
The rest of the album is just about mixed and the radio PR team along with myself and some trusted industry personnel are picking the next 2-3 singles for the year. My guess is that 'My Favorite You' and 'For All You Know' will be in line for release very shortly.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
The next single or two will be out this Spring with a nice bunch of shows just added. We're off to SXSW in March for 3 shows then back to NY for a couple of festivals. There have been 2 invites to perform in Scotland and back in Liverpool as well. I believe that with all of the attention we're getting from major market radio, this year should only keep on banging to higher levels.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Most if not all of my socials and website are josephjamesnyc
In addition here's a QR code to every Joseph James site that we post via LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/josephjamesnyc
Artist website: josephjamesnyc.com
Thank you for the interview. This was a great bunch of questions. I appreciate your interest. JJ