In Talks With Ipswich Starlet Piers James!
5 Mar 2021
As an artist who’s capable of merging multiple music genres ranging from R&B and Hip-Hop to Jazz and Reggae, in order to create an unconventional sound – it’s clear that the musical talent of Piers James has no limit. He’s setting the standard for the future of alternative music; putting the UK alt-scene on the map, and with his EP ‘A Dying Breed Part II’ on the way, it was only right for MM to get talking with this Ipswich Starlet!
Can you introduce yourself and give some detail on your origins story in relation to music?
My name is Piers James, I’ve always been a musical family and I started playing piano when I was about seven. I’m originally from Ipswich but my heritage is Barbados. My mum and auntie would always play Reggae around the house and I always enjoyed listening to it.
Yeah! Bob Markley, all of that – just a whole array. As I grew, up my cousin became a DJ, and he was into grime, as well as Drum and Bass. He’d start making little tapes for me, so I started listening to them, started rapping; I started producing my own beats with a friend. He was also a producer – and from there I carried on writing. I still have my little blue notepad with all my old raps and stuff! As I got a little bit older, I started realising that I was hitting a cap in lyrical flows and other areas because there’s only so many times you can repeat something. That was also around the time I began listening to channel AK and MTV Bass where I started seeing all these different things and I was like “ahh okay there’s like music-music,” which made me realise I could develop the rapping side; making it a bit more conscious.
You mentioned your hometown being Ipswich. Coming from there, have you been faced with certain struggles getting your foot into the scene?
Most definitely, I feel as though there are a lot of talented artists, producers, rappers and singers in Ipswich – but there isn’t enough reach, resources or opportunities. I worked really hard and saved up money. I was doing was a 9-5 and finishing work, then being at the studio from 5-1am. I’d do that for around three years, and I finally got to a point where I was like “what can I do if I made this my full-time job,” and six, seven years on, it’s paid off! Moving to London, helped – there’s only so much you can do hitting people up online. You have to meet face-to-face and meet the right people and be in the right places, so yeah! As long as you want it enough, and get out of there enough, then you’re always going to get there.
Could you talk about how the genres of music you grew up listening to have influenced your style of music – what particular elements have you drawn into your style?
I honestly feel like for the song ‘Pon Dem’ if I didn’t have my reggae expertise and background, I definitely wouldn’t have made a tune like that, but at the same time I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre of music, because I’ve got Indie kind of tracks, I’ve got Hip-Hop tracks, I’ve got Trap-tracks. I can rap, I can sing – I can do It all! So, I think as time goes on and you see the things that are coming you’ll see I’m one of the most versatile artists, and with the music I’m making and am going to make as I move forward; I want you to be surprised and be like “ah okay, he can roll It on that, and this,” ”he can feature on some other people,” “he can do a Linkin Park – Jay Z typa thing,” I feel like having such as eclectic taste; anything that I hear or any instrumental – I WANT TO BE broad with it you know? So interchangeable. Around the time when Kano was bright and the streets were bright, all those kind of people – I was listening to and watching them sing, everyone had their own lane. It wasn’t just like one category, everyone was flourishing in their own thing and they were all accepting of that, so you know I really just enjoyed that. I feel like as an artist, I’m bringing something different to the scene.
‘Mass Appeal’ was really creative, the visuals had an appealing Californian, West-Coast aesthetic
Yeah! And for me, aesthetics since then, I’ve just been releasing and honing my craft up until now. I’ve got to a point where I’m not even looking at idols anymore, I’m just trying to be better than myself and better than the music I make and make sure that it sounds good to me, and that’s all I can say!
In your own words, can you describe what your music sonically consists of?
It’s the sounds. The sounds always have to be right. It’s about the musicality of it. I would say it’s somethin along the lines of an old school feel, but new school vibes – my music has the authenticity of old school, but it has a fresh swing to it.
What can listeners expect from your EP and what Kind of emotion are you looking to bring out of listeners?
I think with everything they’re going to be hearing, especially with this new EP it’s got the rap and old school in it, but it consists of some real, deep spoken word too. Classic and authentic is the taste of it. Referring back to what I was saying previously, when I was listening to Brown Eyes with Kano back in the day, and music from the streets – it got me so excited to make music and to be inspired. All I want to be able to do, is inspire the younger generation, the older generation to keep testing their own craft and being the best versions of themselves because within the current market, people tend to use a set formula and if I’ve heard something before, it doesn’t excite me. With this EP, I want to bring on a new wave of nostalgia.
Have you set your sights on collaborations for the future?
I used to be more inclined to collaborating, and I still have a couple of people that I’d be interested in for the future – Tame Impala would be one, The Neptunes – if I rock with the sound, let’s get in the studio. When the time is right, it’ll happen. I’m on my own journey. Whatever will be, will be.
Do you have an idea of what you want to achieve on your journey for this particular year?
I don’t know what this year’s gonna hold with lockdown. I’d be happy to just get the music out and for it to be accepted on the level that it deserves. To just give back and make people happy, because there’s been so much stress and so many people have been through a lot – whether they’re losing their jobs or just mentally struggling. I just want to be able to give a bit of joy and a bit of fun, in that respect. But at the same time there’s a future, if not for this year, definitely moving forwards.