UK-born singer and songwriter James Bradshaw has been playing music since an early age. He’s recently garnered a lot of attention for performing covers on his YouTube channel. I got to talk with James about how he got into making music, how he picks his covers, his upcoming EP and so much more. Keep reading to get to know James better.
What age did you take the step into making and performing music?
I had been interested in music all my life and casually sung and made up songs on the piano from the age of 9, but was most interested in playing rugby. I had a spinal injury at the age of 15, which meant I had to stop playing. In my free time, recovering/not playing rugby, I was practicing playing and singing and became obsessed with making sounds, which led me to start performing around the age of 16.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize music is what you wanted to do for a living?
There was a moment in a school music competition – which was the first time I got up on stage to sing (the Muse version of “Feeling Good”). I was so nervous, because I literally had no idea what was going to happen. I thought the audience would not think I’m good enough and I’d fail to win my category. But to my complete surprise, I received a standing ovation and ultimately won the competition. The buzz I received in that moment was something that I never ever wanted to let go of!
I love your covers, especially your most recent one of Justin Timberlake’s “Morning Light.” What goes into choosing which song you record next? Do you pick based on what’s popular, what works best for your musical style, or a combination of things?
It’s definitely a combination of both. I start off with a selection of song I think will be popular, then I narrow it down to what I vibe off the most. I think the only way you can translate emotion through the camera lens is if you can fully connect with the lyric and your voice feels at home in the melody. It’s always been obvious to me when I’ve sung something just for the sake of it being popular at the time. I think that discerning the songs of other artists you connect to most is the foundation of discovering your own identity as an artist.
Do you have a favorite cover that you’ve ever recorded? If so, what is it and why is it your favorite?
My favourite cover that I have recorded was my cover of “Earned It” by The Weeknd, because it was the first time I had really stepped out of performing a genre that I felt comfortable with. I took a risk as I hadn’t sung something with as many high notes as this before, also The Weeknd wouldn’t have been my first choice to cover. However the upload received +70K views – my highest so far. This gave me confidence in a part of my voice and performance style that I didn’t have previously and helped me on the path of figuring out who I am as an artist.
Are there any covers coming out in the foreseeable future? Any particular song you’ve been itching to cover?
I have a couple of ideas in the pipeline… I have always wanted to arrange a version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” with a string section. I have also been inspired by some of the performances on the recent BRIT Awards, so potentially expect to hear some Rag N Bone Man.
You are currently working on some original music for your debut solo EP. What type/genre of music are you working on? When can fans expect to hear it?
The music on the EP could be described as ‘moody soul/pop’. I am trying to make it as powerful and emotive as possible in the vocal delivery, groove and production. There will be a stripped down, piano-led track on there amongst some more electronically produced material. The first tracks will hopefully be released in the summer.
Going off of that, what is your songwriting process like?
I have a couple of ways in which I write–which I am still working on refining–but essentially, I will either write and be led by the lyrics and melody, letting the track follow, or be led by the sounds of a track (that I’d make in Logic), to then topline a melody from. One can be inspired to write in many ways and honestly it changes almost every song, however they would be my main two methods.
Who are you listening to on repeat at the moment?
I am listening to a lot of Emily King at the moment. Her lyrics, melody, rhythmic ideas and general soundscape that she creates is really infectious for me right now…
What advice can you give to people wanting to pursue a career in music?
It all has to start from genuine self-belief, in my opinion. If you feel like you have a talent for performing, or writing, find ways of practicing and showing your skills to others in an environment you feel comfortable in. Give yourself space to make the mistakes that will ultimately help you discover who you are and remember to enjoy the process and LOVE who you are at every stage of development. We are all students of the art and we are here to collaborate and create things that will help the world become a better and safer place.
Last question: we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us so I always like to ask what is something that you nerd out over?
When it comes to music, I am a HUMONGOUS nerd of harmony. I could sit at the piano all day and play chords, listen to them, copy them from others and generally drive my housemates insane!