Rediscovering his identity as an artist, Patrick James has returned to the music industry with a clear path of how he wants to deliver his vulnerability to listeners. His new EP ‘What We’re Fighting For’ will be released on March 9 and hears him stepping into a polished new indie-pop sound. The lead single ‘Up’ cites influences from the likes of The 1975 and Lauv with the way the dreamy production captivates the listener. Transforming his acoustic roots into something a little bigger, he begins with a simple piano and percussion beat floating through the verses before adding in slight synths during the chorus to create a bigger atmosphere. It’s a cinematic approach that really does show Patrick James in a new light. He will be taking this EP on the road in April for his first headline Australian shows in a few years, which will be a very intimate and special affair.
I recently chatted to Patrick James about the directional change for ‘What We’re Fighting For’, discuss how he lifts himself up when he’s feeling down and reflect on how his previous touring experiences have shaped how he wants his new live show to feel. Check it out HERE;
TB: Your new sound hears you heading towards a more polished production. So what influenced you to go towards this sound? Do you reflect on it as just an evolution of who you are as an artist?
PJ: It actually felt more genuine to go down this musical path. At the end of my last record I had a bunch of songs that could have made up another album soon after that first one came out, and it would have been musically similar. I suppose I just decided that it didn’t feel right to put those songs out. I didn’t want to repeat myself.
I think that holding off a few years and acquiring so much inspiration in other artists just naturally felt like I was going to make something that was a bit more polished and intimate. Also, I feel like the lyrical content has changed a lot. Meaning that I intentionally wanted to write about something specific and not fall on old writing habits of just using metaphors on top of metaphors. I wanted to really craft the lyrics and melodies primarily around a piano. That was the main difference in the writing process and ultimately it gave way to a different tone in the production. There’s a lot more atmosphere and mood in these recordings.
TB: Were you worried how people were going to react to the quite sudden directional change with this project?
PJ: Not really to be honest but I hope people think that it has progressed. I think there is a sudden feeling of drastic change because the single has just come out but the EP kind of shows the sentimental and delicate side of the coin. For me it’s about if I believe myself when I hear the songs back then that’s kind of how I make the final call. It’s like having a bullshit radar for yourself and keeping who you are as an artist in-check that way. As far as my listeners go I would always hope that they would grow with me through the releases and understand that when I wrote my earlier acoustic songs I was barely in my 20’s. So now with a bit of hindsight it feels like I’m in a completely separate headspace to create my own art and it’s only natural to want to follow that. But I don’t think I’ll ever put down an acoustic guitar for good!
TB: Your music has always had a very honest and raw element to it, so what would you say is the most vulnerable moment for you as a songwriter and as an artist on your new EP ‘What We’re Fighting For’?
PJ: It’s probably a song called ‘Future In You’. To me the EP has an arc to it in the sense that there’s a rough storyline that flows into each song and this track is the last song on the EP. It feels like I am at last saying something final here, like I’ve made a decision about someone and that’s exactly how I feel. For a long time I was trying to make a song that said something along the lines of being able to imagine someone in your life long-term even after all of the mess has happened. It was a moment when I was writing that really felt like I had closed the story or the arc of the songs sitting together.
TB: ‘Up’ is a dreamy indie-pop track that hears you letting go of things that have happened in the past and moving on. So in your personal life how do you remind yourself to take your own advice when you’re feeling a little down?
PJ: I am definitely still figuring that out. Thank god that I have songwriting as a way of therapy to make sense of the day to day things. Aside from that I am pretty into self-help at the moment. I believe in talking your problems out to actual humans and finding solace in the fact that most people are going through something similar. But I run a lot and try to keep fit, it’s always helped me to sing better and feel like I’m healthy. I’ve given up turning to alcohol for a temporary form of gratification and currently on a sober cycle which kind of feels strange but good at the same time. Personally I’ve always kind of felt like I’ve been prone to anxious thinking and it helps if I can be aware of how and why I feel a certain way. It’s a day to day thing that I’m always figuring out how to improve upon.
TB: You’re hitting the road this April to play your first shows for this new project. So how are you going to approach these shows differently compared to your previous run of shows?
PJ: Different in the sense that I want there to be a part of the set that feels super intimate like the EP does but then make sure I touch on previous work and don’t give up old favourites. It’s going to be fun to have a slightly different approach to the show in that way. The core of the gig is always the same really and that’s to give people another dimension of the songs that they know from the recordings. I can’t wait really.
TB: On the back of your last release you toured with the likes of The Paper Kites, Boy & Bear and Emma Louise. So what is one thing you have learnt about yourself as an artist from opening for people that you have translated into your headline shows?
PJ: I think to just stay as connected as possible and always make the effort to sell your own merch. It goes along with making fans and bringing people back to your own show. I enjoy doing that too. All the bands I’ve toured with have been really welcoming on the road so I always try and return the favour when I have my own shows. It makes the entire vibe of the gig better I believe.
TB: What is one feeling/thing you want people to leave your show feeling or thinking about?
PJ: I want people to actually feel something. It sounds weird but I wouldn’t mind if this EP has some sort of place within any couples lives. If two people who are together or have problems come to my show and they walk away feeling inspired to say how they feel or open up more then I think that would be my job done. That seems like a big thing though. The actual show itself always feels joyous to me and I tend to feel very free on stage so I hope people can have a similar sort of feeling when we play these songs live. It’s meant to be about relatability and I really don’t have any problems with being the artist that people say ‘oh I’m going to watch a guy sing love songs’. To me that’s fine, I can be that guy.
TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: My morning pump up song is…
PJ: ’Happy’ by Julia Michaels!
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
TB: The emoji that best describes my new album is…
PJ: The kiss face
TB: This morning I…
PJ: Made an Instagram video about making milo
TB: My one thing I can’t tour without is…
PJ: Logical answer is sound guy or tour manager
What We’re Fighting For Australian Tour
Sat 6 April – The Lansdowne, Sydney
Fri 12 April – Workers Club, Melbourne
Thu 18 April – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane