Peter meets, James Vincent McMorrow.
Peter Meets, James Vincent McMorrow.
Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow began his musical life well into his teens. Although in say that, I believe by reading his answers, I would suggest the man was born as a true master of music and words. He first started playing the drums and at 19 he picked up the guitar and embarked on what would be the start of his musical career. He started writing after being influenced by digging into to the sounds of the 70's. While playing in the local pubs he decided to record his first album, ‘Early in the Morning’ in 2010 which was greeted with rave reviews, a top chart spot, a Choice Music nomination, platinum sales and appearances at Royal Festival Hall and Jools Holland in 2011. Most of us may know James talent from his cover of ‘Higher Love’ by Steve Winwood which was used for a TV campaign. After heading to Texas in 2013, James recorded his second studio album, ‘Post Tropical’, which was also greeted with rave reviews proving he is one of thee most amazing musical talents to come out of Ireland. This led him to scoring Sam Benenati’s film ‘Martha’ as part of series ‘Campaign4Changes Mix up tradition’. He recorded a cover of one of my personal favourite songs, by Chris Isaaks ‘Wicked games’, for the promotional trailer of season six Game Of Thrones. Since then, James has toured the world over and has released two more studio albums, one in 2016, ‘Rising Water’ and another in May of this year, ‘True Care’, which according to the man himself is ‘the best things I’ve ever created’
I first heard about James when I was with an ex of mine. We were lying next to each other and James Vincent McMorrow was the soundtrack to our conversation, my ex-played him all the time. I then found myself starting to search his name on Spotify and I began my own musical relationship with him (he has been the theme tune to a lot of my paintings since then). I met a friend of mine and started to tell her about him, she then revealed that she was his girlfriend, who would later marry the man of her dreams in the embodiment of James. I think it’s safe to say after reading James’ answers to ‘The sweet 16’ I have a total crush on this man that wasn’t there before. He has reignited something inside me. A deeper love of art? Not even my art, but all art. His passion for what he does, and who and what he stands for is something everyone should strive for in what they do, or at least to be hugely admired. James Vincent McMorrow, thank you for reigniting my passion for art.
1. Do you have a favourite artist and what’s your favourite piece by them?
I’m a big James Turrell fan, a lot of musicians tend to be fans of his, I think it’s the correlation between light and music, there’s a pretty strong connection between the 2. In Austin recently, I went to his installation at the university called ‘The Color Inside’, you go see it as the sun is setting, you sit inside a big white dome with an oculus in the roof, the walls change colour as the sun sets, its spectacular.
2. What was the last exhibition you went to?
In Chicago a couple of weeks back, I went to the Art Institute, their collection is unbelievable. They have Nighthawks by Edward Hopper and the American Gothic by 'Grant wood', they’re definitely on the ‘list of paintings to see before you die’. Also, they have a Monet room which is my favourite room too because his colour palette is pure magic.
3. What’s your favourite book?
I don’t think I have one. I’ll go with my favourite book right now, which is ‘Meet me in the Bathroom’ by Elizabeth Goodman. It’s about the rise of the music scene in NYC and Brooklyn, form the late 90’s to late 2000’s, she’s managed to capture the whole scene really vividly, the way it’s written is so unorthodox but works amazing. Go read it!
4. Who’s your icon?
Icons a pretty lofty term, not sure I have one. My idol, which feels like a more tangible term, since I was a kid, is Pharell. The way he’s been innovating since day 1, and even now he’s still on top of his game, there’s never been anyone like him.
5. I know you are an accomplished singer, but do you like to dabble in a bit of painting every now and then?
I literally could not paint my way out of a paper bag. I thought at one point I’d like to try paint and draw, but honestly, I’m a pretty intense human when it comes to art, so not being able to articulate the things I had in my head, the way I wanted was really frustrating! Maybe one day I’ll get super into abstract and just paint pure chaos!
6. What influences you on a daily basis?
Is it a cliché just to say life? It’s obvious I know, but sometimes the obvious things are the truest things, I’ve always lived my life the way I’ve wanted to live it, for better or worse and its always given me nothing but inspiration back, in a really low key organic way.
7. What’s your favourite sound?
Is it cheesy to say, my wife? It’s true. My favourite thing in the world is making her laugh with her entire being, and it’s truly amazing to me. The lengths I would go to in order to make her laugh are borderline ridiculous!
8. What has been the single most important event in your career so far?
I can’t honestly pinpoint one. If I was to go back to the start, 2009, I was told I couldn’t make the record I wanted to make by myself, by people who knew a whole lot more about the music business than I did at the time. I think that felt like a real moment because it definitely hardened my resolve to do things my way, make what I wanted to make, and figure the rest out later.
9. What do you hope your contribution will bring to your community?
I think, I hope, that I’ve had a positive influence on people coming through behind me. When I was starting out, seeing someone like Damien Rice out there doing things on his own terms and kind of running the world musically for a minute, that has a profound impact on me as a kid, not even one musical level, just someone doing stuff their way and succeeding on an international level (hard to say without sounding like a narcissistic eejit!), I feel like people coming through now might see that and be able to think really big really quickly. There’s nothing off limits just because you come from a small country.
10. What is the hope for your audience when they encounter your work?
My only hope is an honest and sincere connection. I don’t like contrived, I don’t like overly styled, everything that I do means everything to me. I’m not faking anything for better or worse, and I know that means that when people encounter my work, at least I hope it means that the interaction they have with it is meaningful and sincere.
11. Who has been the most influential person to you and your work?
No one and everyone at the same time. I don’t have anyone I ever looked to as an influence exponentially more than anyone else.
12. If you could have dinner or a drink with someone, alive or dead who would it be? I would very much like to hang with Taika Waititi, I’m a fan of people who do things 100% their own way. The world comes to them rather than them coming to the world. I’ve loved every second of every movie he’s made, and the fact he’s gotten to now shape a blockbuster movie in his image genuinely blows my mind.
13. Do you think an artist needs to be tortured to create?
Torture, I don’t know. Discomfort? 100%. Demons? 100%. There’s a romance to making art, for sure, and part of that can be seen as tortured artist. What I don’t like is when people apply the trappings and façade of torture to their aesthetic in order to be perceived a certain way. I find that shit pretty dull. I want to preface this by saying, I’m NOT telling anyone to live their lives this way, but when you look at people like Van Gough, Hemingway, Hunter S Thompson, Chet Backer, Elliot Smith, those people were not playing around with the façade of torture, they were haunted, and they pure genius. You can apply that façade of torture, but if you’re not living it in your bones, then my advice is just to lean back and be comfortable being whatever you are. Great genius doesn’t just doesn’t just come in torture size, it can come in a low key size too! But there is usually some kind of sadness and demon in there.
14. What was the first piece of art you bought?
I don’t own that much art, I have some Steve Harringtons, that I absolutely adore. I think they were the first pieces I bought. I also have some cool pieces by Irish artists I love that I bought around the same time, Mick Minogue, Jill Deering.
15. Where’s your favourite space to get creative in?
I am a sucker for a hotel room, there’s something really weird and alien and romantic to me about working in a transient place like a hotel room. I also write a lot while I’m on the tour bus. In America when you’re sitting in a back lounge just staring out the window it’s pretty magical and inspirational.
16. What’s next for you?
Creating. Always creating. The idea of sitting around waiting for album cycles seems stupid to me, always has! I make things because it’s what I’m here to do, and one day, maybe I won’t’ want to anymore, or the ideas won’t be what them to be. So right now, I wake up every morning with a compulsion to create and to get things out of my head. So that’s what I am doing.
With thanks James, you total dreamboat! x