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Music |

Interview: James Wolf

Thursday 06 November 2014
Words Spindle

Dublin born, London based Tropical Disco House singer James Wolf met with me in a pair of mirrored shoes for looking up girls’ skirts (his joke, not mine, I swear). We got to talk about making a big move to set up home in London, how James describes his music as tropical, the time when he was in a band with bitches, and what the future holds for James Wolf.

You’ve moved to London, sort of, recently. How are you finding it?

I’ve lived here for two and half years now, so it feels like home. It was tough because I’m from Dublin, and I love Dublin. It’s such a fun place and all my best friends are over there. For the first year it was like “aaaahhh” and it was tough trying to get everything started over here. It was an interesting challenge shall we say. But once I got into it, I really got into it and now I’m loving it.

james fox_6

How does London differ to Dublin?

It’s so much bigger, and there’s so much potential and scope for everything and in terms of social life, there’s always so much stuff on. I would have never gone to the theatre in Ireland, but I find myself going to the theatre over here. There are always so many amazing bands, and club nights to go to. There’s such variety. And with that comes a lot of planning, I know what I’m doing every weekend until Christmas. And I’m not even joking. In Ireland there’s less on, so everything is so relaxed. You call round your friends for a cup of tea [without planning it]. Two different ways of living.

How does the music scene compare?

Totally different. When I first started doing music in Ireland.

With Bitches with Wolves?

Yeah! Bitches with Wolves. We had so much fun together. It was a real anomaly, what we were doing compared to what was going on at the time and today. It’s very much guitar. It’s all guitar bands and chords, looking down at the ground and not even a hint of gel in their hair. Over here, there’s so much of everything going on. So it’s a more natural fit me being over here than at home. I find because the music I create is predominately made through synthesisers and laptops. The people would almost not credit it as much as someone who sits down there with their guitar. There’s just a lot more to it [the music James creates]. There are layers and layers of music that’s been created. Not that I’m Mozart, I’m not saying that I am at all.

So what made you ditch the Bitches?

What happened was, I’d released an EP in Ireland called Hurricane, which did really well. We were working away at it for a couple of years; we did festivals and toured our own show and stuff that was amazing. But I realised that Ireland was such a small space, and to fill what I really wanted to get out of this I’d never be able to do staying in Ireland. And it was always very much my project, and my baby; I was the driving force of the whole thing. I was the Beyoncé. Joking! But it was my project, the whole thing started when I was taking the mick out of a guy who then booked me for a gig and the whole thing snowballed. I started with a DJ who used to play with me on stage and I was out the front singing. Then we got a guitarist on board, and backing vocalist and bass guitarist and keyboardist.

What I wanted to do was something different. A little less brash, and bit more laid back I suppose. As it was my project, I couldn’t ask the guys to leave their jobs and their lives and move over here. So it was time for something new and something fresh.

james fox_7

And you help to produce your own music?

I spent so long in the studio learning from the different producers that I’ve worked with, and so the way that we do it is the lead producer is very much in it. He’s the one with the technical skillset. But I sit there with him and we do it. I have melodies that come into my head or rhythmic ideas or sounds. We collaborate on them together to create what the song is going to be. I sit there for the whole process, from start to finish.

One of the things I really want to do though is get myself to a level where I can produce by myself. I want to get my skillset up to where it needs to be so I can say, “yeah, I do it myself”.

Your new single Cant Get Enough is out on January 19th, that’s exciting…

Do you know what, it’s really fucking exciting. It’s been so positive, which is amazing. You never know which way things are going to go. It’s like anything, if you spend so long looking at a glass, you can’t tell if it’s a glass anymore or if it’s just what you can see. It’s hard to get perspective of things, when it’s not just about you sitting there tweaking it and it actually goes out into the world and people like it – it’s amazing.

And the video! They’re very bright, and colourful and kaleidoscopic if that’s a word (apparently it is, thanks spell check). I love how you describe your music as Tropical Disco House. 

I must’ve been born on the equator in a previous life; I don’t know where I get it from. I definitely don’t get it from Dublin. This affinity with positive energy that you get in tropical house, and there are darker references in my music, but most of it is let’s just have a craic.

The clothes in the video tie in with the whole tropical theme. Do you feel any connection between music and fashion?

I dress the way that I dress because I always dress like this. I think one of the awesome parts about my job is that I can look at something and that “that is totally insane” and know that I can kind of get away with it. I love the whole idea of dressing up and the fun you can have with clothes. My music isn’t something that is taking yourself too seriously; it’s all about having a good time really. That’s the awesome thing about to fashion too. It can just be about having a great time with the clothes.

Did you have a favourite outfit from the video?

I loved the Agi & Sam suit that I got to wear. In fact, it’s actually my suit. I have this amazing stylist called Julie Barnard who helped me style the video, and she helped me pull together loads of the looks. But that suit is a suit I already had and I absolutely think it’s so cool. I’ve worn it to many weddings. You need a good suit. And you need a full print in your wardrobe.

james fox_2

Tell me a bit more about the song, what were you thinking when you were writing?

So the story of the song… it’s basically about that moment where you’ve just met someone and you don’t really know them, but you know you really want to get to know them. I think it’s like after you’ve just met someone in a club and you’ve just snogged their face off, and they must be an amazing kisser because you’re like “I can’t enough of you. I don’t know you, but I’m gonna make this happen”. You feel like there’s a really special connection between the two of you. So that’s what the songs about.

Talking about being in a club, imagine you’re the club DJ. You’ve got three songs to fill the dance floor – what would they be?

The Magician – I Don’t Know What To Do
White Noise – Disclosure
Donna Summer – Bad Girls (Gigamesh Remix)

You shared a stage with Scissor Sisters and Calvin Harris in previous years. How was that?

Amazing. When I was in Bitches with Wolves I got loads of fantastic opportunities to support loads of amazing artists that would come to Dublin. As I said, there weren’t many artists doing what I was doing in Ireland, but there were a lot of international artists that were. Therefore I was always picked, which was great. The Scissor Sisters was amazing because I’ve always been a massive fan of theirs since they first came out. They were so lovely to me I cant even express; it was a really fantastic opportunity. The crowd was great both times so it was awesome.

Have you got any live shows coming up as the headliner?

Do you know what, that’s something we’re working on. We haven’t got anything locked in yet. Just the new single. But I really want to do a show before Christmas. I don’t know what the plan is, but that’s something that’s being worked on!