ICON: You were previously a social worker. What was the catalyst moment for turning your talent into a career?
Jarryd James: “I had been involved in music for some time before I ever worked as a social worker, but had pretty much turned my back on the whole thing and thrown myself into my work with young people. Perhaps I just needed that break to reshuffle the deck in my head so to speak. I see my years previous to this as a kind of apprenticeship, so when I delved back into music I had a much clearer idea of what I was doing.”
What have you learnt creatively about yourself since then?
JJ: “I’ve slowly figured out my own little rituals and patterns that I need to go through in order to get at everything that’s stored up in the back of my brain. I’m not a fast writer, so the process can be frustrating at times, but the more I do it, the more I learn not to rush it. I’ve mostly learnt to always keep it simple, and try to be aware of nuances; dynamics, moods, stuff like that.”
What is the process behind creating an album where you play all the instruments yourself? Do you have anyone assisting you?
JJ: “I would not have been able to make this album without some of the most amazing producers on the planet. I’ve been lucky to have some straight up geniuses facilitating my ideas. It is always purely collaborative, and I think what we’ve ended up with is much greater than the sum of its parts. The process is mostly just getting into whichever studio we are in, start experimenting with some sounds, and just continuing on this path until we both get inspired, then we build it from there. Pretty much every track on the album was built from nothing in this fashion until we had a fully formed song. It is quite an amazing thing to be a part of to be honest. To start with nothing and finish with something with so much in it.”
It took you 18 months to write. How many versions did you create before choosing the final track list?
JJ: “Literally only one version of each song exists. I just don’t really work that way – I like to fine-tune things as we go, rather than skip over things and go back to them later.”
How have you coped with COVID-19 and the delays it has brought releasing your new music? Were there any concerns about delaying it?
JJ: “At first it was a bit stressful; it felt like the album might never see the light of day. But I threw myself into the production world and have been using my time learning new things. It’s been a trip but I’m really glad I got into it. I’ve been working with a lot of exciting young artists which has in turn helped me feel more inspired about making new music of my own.”
Many of these tracks were written in different cities. Have you found your creativity hindered since travel restriction were put in place?
JJ: “A little bit at the start but this was only because I was trying to make my own music, completely shut off from any collaboration. Once I let that go, I was all good.”
Where do you find inspiration from?
JJ: “Definitely travelling. Being in new cities. New types of people. Drinking in strange bars, having conversations with strangers.
“I like to have a film on in the studio with the sound turned down. It often helps to spark a feeling or a train of thought when I get stuck.”
I get inspired when I see anyone of any age, race, gender, religion… do exactly what they are drawn to do, despite what anyone else thinks, and in the way that they feel they should. When people disregard the algorithms and instead follow artistic instinct.”
What do you want people to take from this new album?
JJ: “I honestly don’t know. Obviously I hope that people enjoy it. Maybe the best I could hope for is that it can bring people some sort of peace in this weird world we now live in.
To date, you’ve had more than 480 million streams, an ARIA top 5 album and two platinum-selling singles to your name. What do you want to achieve in the next five years?
JJ: “I just want to tour as much as possible. Make as much music as possible. Simple really, but that’s what makes me the happiest. Oh and I want to get better at the Graffiti mode in Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
Jarryd James latest album ‘P.M.’ is out now. For more from the artist, visit here.