Interview: Becca James | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle-based singer-songwriter Becca James is set to release her debut track ‘Control’ on 24th May 2019 via Crumpet Records, a record label set up as part of an internship scheme at independent label Kaleidoscope. The label is home to SHIELDS who collaborated on the track and provided instrumentation for the studio recording. Despite it being early days, her talent and can-do attitude has meant she has achieved a great deal already. We discuss the past, present and future with the hotly tipped neo-soul artist.

How would you describe your sound?
Organic, vocally driven, soulful pop music.  

Who or what inspires you as an artist?
Musically, I am inspired by a cappella, strong melodies and tone. I absolutely love writing through improvisation and playing with voice to evoke connection – I’m all about how certain vocalisations and sounds make you feel. I am inspired by the Rnb, soul and pop music I grew up with and more recently American neo-soul artists such as YEBBA and Emily King. Lyrically I write about emotion, spirituality and social topics I am passionate about. Ultimately, I want to create music that helps people connect to themselves.

It says in your bio that you spent much of 2018 overcoming a fear of pursuing a creative career. What was it you feared? How did you overcome that fear? And what advice would you give artists in a similar situation?
It all started when I was much younger, as I was writing songs and melodies from a really young age, but I lost my confidence. I had no sense of how the music industry worked and though I studied music up to BTEC (A-Level), I still didn’t believe that music was a sustainable career that was achievable to someone from my low income background and I tried to pursue something more academic. As I got older I had low self-esteem and did not believe I was good enough. When you really explore these emotions, the root is always the same, its fear. When I finished my degree, I went into that mild panic everyone does and thought I would give myself some space to explore community arts and music.

I did the Ladders Course through Generator and met mentors and friends, which encouraged me to get writing again and slowly helped me to believe that I did have a talent worth nurturing and maybe I could share this. Once I gave myself permission to express, it started to flow. My best piece of advice is don’t allow fear to stop you from pursuing your dreams. You are worthy, valuable and the world needs to hear your voice!

You are currently working with intern run record label Crumpet Records, an imprint of Kaleidoscope Music, how did that come about?
The interns at Crumpet Records, the lovely Nikki and Joe, heard my a cappella demo Control on BBC Introducing in the North East and I later met them at one of their open mic nights at Kaleidoscope to find an artist! The demo itself was one of the first songs I wrote on the Generator Ladders course, when I couldn’t properly play an instrument (I now play the keyboard). Crumpet introduced me to Kaleidoscope’s band SHIELDS who have helped me to transform the track as my debut single. Prior to this, though I had tried, I hadn’t been able to develop the song further. In hindsight I feel divine timing led the track to the right people. I’m so grateful they chose to work with me – it’s a total pleasure collaborating with them.

What have you got coming up in the near future?
Everything at the moment is focused towards the release of my debut single, Control, on Friday 24th May, with a launch show at Kaleidoscope HQ on Saturday 25th May. I am being supported by two incredible local female artists, Annie Griffiths and Rhiannon Soulsby. Tickets will be on sale soon. I’m over the moon to have a song out in the world & I can’t wait to celebrate this!

Equally, I am focused on more writing, recording and collaborating, to follow up my debut with more music, as well as crafting a live set to start performing more widely. I have a handful of gigs coming up in May, including Women Are Mint Festival on 10th May at Cobalt Studios and The Late Shows at Gateshead Library on 18th May.

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