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James Yuill

Article written by Mary B - Jan 29, 2008


James Yuill is a magician when it comes to folktronica music but he can't make a soufflé, can you, James? He appreciates power ballads as he strolls the streets of London but I will not hold that against him for he creates some pretty fantastic music for me to stroll along to. It all evens out in the end....

SoundsXP: Where's that surname from then? Do I pronouce it like 'yule'? We need to get the bigger questions out of the way first.

James: You do pronounce it as Yule…it’s Scottish I believe.

SoundsXP: So, is it just you on your own, James? Music for one? If so does it get lonely on that folktronica highway?

James: It was me on my own until very recently. I now have a talented lady called Jess Bryant helping me out with live keys/vocals, that kind of thing. I didn’t do the album completely on my own I had a couple of friends help me out. Ellie Gray doing some backing vocals and Alison Gregory on cello.

SoundsXP: I love when somebody takes folk music and gives it an electric shock. You kind of do that, ey? Your music is like a bath full of folk music with a radio being thrown in there as the Chemical Brothers fill the airwaves.

James: Is that a question? If so…the answer is Wednesday.

SoundsXP: You're a talented fella really. You write, you produce, you remix. What can't you do? Can you make a soufflé without it sinking in the middle? I can.

James: I’m still really learning a lot of things…things on the production and writing side. I can’t cook a soufflé…not that I’ve tried.

SoundsXP: You list The Commodores as an influence. I'd like a cover of 'Three times a lady' for valentine's day please. What are the chances of that?

James: Very slim. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. To be honest it’s not my favourite Commodores song…I like the funky shit. Brickhouse…Too Hot Ta Trot …you know the classics.

SoundsXP: I know that you're joking, right, when you say that the 'Gillette, the best a man can get' advert theme music is the best song ever written! That prize surely goes to Lily the Pink?

James: Um…I can’t really remember Lily the Pink…but I love the Gillette song. I’m a huge fan of 80/early 90s songwriting…you can’t beat a good power ballad…I’m also a big fan of Tasmin Archer and Jane Wiedlin (a guilty pleasure I suspect…don’t hate me for my dark secrets)

SoundsXP: Do you like to shave, James? You shouldn't. You should give shaving a miss really.

James: I do like to shave…I grow a horrifc ginger beard…it makes me look like I’m dirty…

SoundsXP: I love 'No surprise' as it's a delight for the hearing senses. Well done for bringing glockenspiel sounds to the table. Talk me through how 'Turning Down Water For Air' came into being.

James: Well…interesting question Mary. I’d say it came into being when I decided to do a follow up EP to my first album The Vanilla Disc. It then spiralled out of control into an album. Many evenings and weekends spent at my desk in my bedroom in front of my ibook. I do have an interesting story about when I finished the album. I’d just mastered the final cd. It was December 2006. I went to Spain for Christmas and stupidly took my computer and my backup out with me. As soon as we got to our rented holiday home thing we were robbed. I lost all my bags…including all the session files for the album and all the music I’d done up to that point. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

SoundsXP: Who did the artwork for 'Turning Down Water For Air'? It's really subtle yet quite enigmatic.

James: Thanks…It was me, but it’s a bit photoshop really…I wanted an 80's electro style cover with a rustic interior…I’m still unconvinced whether I’ve achieved that.

SoundsXP: If you had to choose between water and air what would you choose and why? That's quite a philosophical question, ey?

James: A hard decision. We need them both to survive. I obviously chose air. But the point of the album title was to say that I had to turn down one thing I couldn’t live without for another thing I couldn’t live without…is that too deep? Do I sound pretentious….cos I’m definitely trying!

SoundsXP: If I called you out of the blue, would you run to catch me as I was falling? How good a friend/lover are you do you think? I'm not analysing you here, it's just a clever play on your lyrics...

James: I think I’m alright as a friend…luckily my words have never been put into practice…well not severely anyway. As for the lover thing I can’t really answer that honestly myself…I’ll just let my broken bed speak for itself…it says ‘no’ by the way.

SoundsXP: What music do you like out there at the moment? Any hidden treasures that I should investigate?

James: Oooh. I like my electro. Sebastian, Kavinsky, Jackson & His Computer Band. I’ve also got some very talented friends. The Sound Of Bailey, Sam Kirk, Gwildor, Jess Bryant, Samantha Whates…the list is never ending.

SoundsXP: What motivates James Yuill?

James: Pasta. And tea…not together…

SoundsXP: In what three ways could you get me to remember you?

James: Make up a little rhyme which would be hard to get out of your head. Hypnotise you, so that everytime you blinked you’d see my smiling face…and thirdly say something amazingly offensive…possibly in the style of Mel Gibson!

SoundsXP: On your website there's a foxy hand with a face drawn on it gracing your pictures section. I love drawing faces on my hand. Did you copy me, James? Be honest. Do you think that hands with faces on are the way forward? Would your face hand hold my face hand? See where it goes?

James: It may do…my mini me hasn’t been around much…he’s a bit of a womanizer…or should I say grabber? I did that a while ago…the background is actually my dad's jumper which he was wearing at the time…my sister and I thought it was very funny…..a slow day in the Yuill household then?

SoundsXP: Finally dear James, what's happening next for you? You've got quite a few gigs (acoustic and electronic) coming up in London. Should one go to see you? I think so.

James: Yes…one should. They’re two completely different shows…electronic…obviously is the dancey set and the acoustic is pretty much what is says on the tin. Same songs though. I’m playing SXSW in March which is pretty daunting. So any Americans reading this should come along to make me feel at home…complimentary pasta and tea not compulsory.

It should be compulsory though. Why not have a cup of tea and visit James Yuill's webiste? Or bring a kettle to his next gig and have a brew with him?


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