Elliot James is a British-American singer songwriter, producer, musician, creative director/designer, founder and co-owner of the Blossöm Record label. During our conversation we talked of his early life, musical journey and other travels, solo career – including his new single “Fiend” – collaborations with other artists on projects like Extremely Bad Man, inspirations for his music, designing record covers and much more.
DB: You were born here, in the UK.
EJ: I was, in Camden, London. We were only in London for my first two years and then we moved to Oman, in the Middle East. Both my parents are interior designers, so my dad was doing a lot of stuff out there for many years. We had my brother there. We moved around a couple more times every year or two years after that, so Malaysia, Hong Kong. Then we moved back to England, to Salisbury, Wiltshire and lived there for 5 ½-6 years and then came to Florida.
DB: And they’ve remained in Florida but you’ve moved around a bit.
EJ: I was touring around after Florida. We started touring in one of my other bands about half-way through high school but then with Hey Monday we started seriously touring full-time. Then I was bouncing around for a while: I spent a lot of time in New York and England and in Florida and then four years ago I came to LA and this is really my hub now.
DB: What was it like as a kid then, moving around a lot?
EJ: I used to always give my parents such a hard time when I was younger, I was like, ‘We just wanted to grow up with the same friends. We just want to grow up in the same school.’ We kept moving around all the time and it’s great that we got to see all these places but as you get older and you become aware, you want to have some sort of semblance of a routine. So we gave them a hard time with that for a long time, and that’s really why we moved back to England. Then my dad had this opportunity – a six-month position – to work at this thing in Florida and at the end of it they offered him something so that was the reason for the move at that point. After that they said, ‘We really will promise to stay put for a bit.’
DB: When did you start playing music?
EJ: When I was eight. I was at a school called Norman Court, in Wiltshire, and as part of the curriculum everyone had to learn an instrument. They asked us all one day and I picked saxophone because the Pink Panther played it (laughs) and it was the only thing I could think of! I did one class and they made me switch. As a result of being discouraged I was like, ‘Just give me the drums then, I’ll just hit whatever I want.’ Obviously that wasn’t the case, it was a lot harder, but I wasn’t allowed to switch again so I just carried on and at some point the hating of it changed into, ‘I really love the challenge of this!’ And I’ve never stopped.
DB: What other instruments do you play?
EJ: Guitar, piano, a little bit of bass. I play enough of all of them just to be able to put my ideas out the way that I actually hear them.
DB: Which instruments have you had formal lessons in?
EJ: Just drums actually. I was in the London Operatic’s musical curriculum before I left the UK but I had never played with other people in a non-formal setting until I got to the States and I met someone who had a guitar and that was the main cataclysmic change. My mum tells this story of one time we had a music recital at the school and they gave me a part where I would play the drums and I came out when it was my turn in the performance and apparently I just put in a completely different CD and played along with the song and did whatever I wanted. Everyone loved it but the school was like, ‘Don’t do the rock stuff!’ (Both laugh)
DB: What about singing? You do sing don’t you.
EJ: I’ve just always sung. Before I ever played an instrument, my parents were singing and were in community shows. I sang in the choir at school and always sang in the house. My cousin, on my dad’s side, who I’m very close with, he’s always played piano and we’ve always had the big family singalongs – he’s a musical director in the West End.
DB: And there’s a connection via your parents to art and design. Has that always been an important aspect of your life?
EJ: Definitely. I’ve gone to exceedingly great lengths, and suffered very much, to just continue making art and creative ideas and occupying my time that way. It’s always been hard because, in me, I know that there’s a difference between spending my time doing this and spending my time doing that, and no one else can understand that, if you don’t feel it yourself. I have always felt comfortable leaping and waiting for a net to appear because I know that at the end of the day my decisions, to my parents, are always going to be justified by my passion and my love for creation. Being artists themselves, I know they are going to understand that.
DB: Would you describe it as a ‘drive’ where, if you don’t do it, you are unhappy?
EJ: Yeah. I think that’s the thing that we [musicians] struggle so much with, because every day you feel a little bit (even when things are good) like you want to give it up and you just never can. The music thing is so bizarre because it’s the first time in my life I can ever remember getting the chills on the back of my neck from something: so I connect that whole umbrella of music to that euphoria and I think because I made that connection it is like a life-long marriage for me.
DB: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
EJ: I wish I knew! Lo-fi, cross over, urban indie pop – there’s pop in everything I do, there’s rock in everything I do. More and more, as I’ve gotten older, I have continued to make what I want to hear and that’s become more the obsession. It’s probably easier to listen to it and, depending on what you listen to, it will all probably sound pretty different. Everything is like a happy melancholy. It’s supposed to be near to nature, bright and natural. Most of the time when I’m making my stuff, I usually am the only person in the room and it’s usually very early in the morning, or very late, so it does feel ambient. It feels good when I’m doing it because I sit there for quite a while before that ‘thing’ comes but the moment that it does, I usually hit ‘record’ and get that tape – I don’t get in there and comp [adding chords, rhythms, counter-melodies] and edit and change, it’s just not like that with these songs. I play music with people to be able to correctly anticipate what they will do next, having no clue, and that rapport, that chemistry and that feeling of a jam or a live experience and getting into that flow, that’s what I’m interested in. So when I’m writing I’m trying to get what feels like a line.
DB: You founded your record label, Blossöm Records, in 2016, in LA. What prompted you to set up your own label?
EJ: I never wanted to. I actually felt really strongly against it but I was in a place where I had spent 10-15 years making stuff ‘in the box’ of other people’s perspective and always having to play the game – and I was really sick of playing the game! Even with some of the labels and partners we were doing things with at the time, it came with this whole laundry list of stuff, that I felt just felt like that, if I was going to go out and try to make some of these things I wanted to make, it was never going to come out the way that I wanted it to in that setting and because of the publisher, I knew I had distribution anyway, so we went through setting up my own imprint and it was just convenient. I had a way to semi-successfully and perpetually get my stuff out to people but knowing that I had final cut on it – even with the art and how the videos looked. The Soft Dreams EP was the first thing we did on the label but then, around the same time, a bunch of other people in our immediate circle were also feeling very much the same way, so they all started hopping onto it too and then, just naturally, it turned into what it did. Then, about a year ago, our publishers’ agents approached them with a rep deal for us. We were able to maintain our ethos: make fair partnerships and fair deals with people who believe in what we are actually doing – without hesitation.
DB: So you have maintained your control, rather than having an external label telling what they want.
EJ: Everyone on the roster does, they have all agreed to make their own deal. We don’t have to ask permission: if the BBC wants to do something with us, it’s only one degree away to sort it out. Our roster is diverse: we have never signed the same sort or thing twice. If someone comes to us searching for something specific, we more than likely have that thing. We don’t have six artists all competing on our roster for the same placements because they are all in their own lanes.
DB: The EP, Soft Dreams Osaka (which is very Japanese in places): what was the inspiration behind that?
EJ: I’d been in the bathroom earlier that morning, just brushing my teeth and feeling like a zombie and thinking, ‘What am I doing? I’ve just woken up today, of all days, and realised that I’ve spent my whole career making something that just wasn’t entirely what I want to do.’ I just wanted to know what it would sound like if I just shamelessly, and unapologetically, tried to make what I wanted to make. That idea was very emotional for me and I was sort of angered but relaxed. So I went into my room with my laptop, just got right under my covers and very ‘in the thing’ and I made something that was very linear, that didn’t have a lot of repeating sections – I wanted something that you could listen to as one song or as separate songs. I just wrote from the start of the session to the end; I didn’t hop around or go back, it was all one thing. I did that for a couple of hours and then I left the house, came home, watched some TV and then, right before bed, I went back and listened to it. I listened to the whole thing from cover to cover and was like, ‘Wow! This is really cool!’ And I put it out the next day.
DB: I know it’s really difficult when you are creating something, but can you grasp what it was that played in your mind that produced this?
EJ: I was thinking a lot about the last time we had been playing in Japan, and we were staying at this hotel and the jet lag. I was making stuff like this and watching weird, late night cartoons (that are from pre-World War 2 for some of them) and that’s why some of that stuff looks like that – that visual. For whatever reason that was in my mind, probably because that was the last time I could remember being that relaxed about my ideas (I had no choice because no matter how hard you try to sleep, you can’t) you feel in a dreamy state because it’s night time, there’s no sounds – not even in the whole hotel. I found this really old pre-War recording of this Japanese woman who was reading this prayer, which I thought was so interesting, and that little voice before every song, that’s what that is. That felt like a really simple way to constantly switch whatever I was doing, even if it changed key or something, that’s why that is in there.
DB: That’s exactly what I was going to ask you: the snippets of the language, what the function was and why you decided to use it.
EJ: That’s really cool because no one’s ever asked. That’s the sort of stuff that I’m interested in doing but am unable to do it in the other things that we do because there’s the simple formality and structure with the majority of it – everything has to be delivered in a certain way, to do certain things and to be eligible for certain opportunities. After a while it just sort of makes me mad and you need somewhere, some excuse, some project to be exploring those ideas because otherwise you start to go crazy, not being able to try them out. When I’m working on my own I just like: stripped, simple, basic, 3 or 4 things, don’t overthink it but the tension of what those things can all do, when they’re performing together, is quite intrinsic. I still am very afraid – terrified actually – of it ever sounding like the music is sad or that my ideas are too dark or too hard to relate to, and that seems to be what the connection actually is; I am trying all the time not to give into the recoil of that stuff because in Soft Dreams it is laid-back, sort of sad but it is sort of really happy.
DB: Last year you released the EP Favourite. In what way was that a departure or a continuation of what you had done before?
EJ: On Soft Dreams that was just me and Tyler and it was made very, very quickly in one session – one night and then the visual the next day. With Favourite that was the first time on my stuff that I did collaborations or an added feature, so I had co-productions and different vocal features or mixers – and that process was interesting too. But I don’t like doing the same thing twice on anything so that was another reason as well: just to make something totally different like, ‘What can I put out, and get away with, that is called ‘not pop’ but it is pretty ‘poppy’?’ Every song on that EP is kind of popular but it’s not a pop album.
DB: You’ve just released a single, “Fiend”. Is that going to be part of an EP or an album?
EJ: So I’ve gotten a new EP that will come out soon and I’m working towards an album as well. As things are coming down the conveyor belt I’m making decisions like, ‘That’s an EP. That’s an album track.’ This single didn’t fit on any of those and it was a nice bridge: spending a month back home [UK] but wanting to come back with something new and put something out immediately. I had that song and that recording, I even went back to it at one time to try to mix it more and use different things, but I went with the demo in the end – it was a more honest performance. I really loved the song and it was so different from what everyone else was doing at the time as well. I had this song that I really, reallylove and I knew that no one would think that I would have a song like this, or do a song like this.
DB: You’ve done a really good video with it as well. How did doing the video work out practically?
EJ: I showed Joey [Joseph Mercado] the song first. He’s a frequent creative collaborator, director, songwriter, artist guy in our Blossöm camp. We do a lot of stuff together and he’s also a very good friend of mine and creatively we are on the same page. He never challenges my ridiculous concepts and ideas – he is ‘that guy’, that one person who is like, ‘Yeah do it! That sounds great!’ We decided it should be a girl, that it shouldn’t be me even singing it, and that anyone should be able to relate to this thing. We were like, ‘Why don’t we just make the video? We have everything we need. We don’t even need a real crew.’ We put out a casting around town to find what we were looking for. The first person to respond just gave us her headshot and her resumé and the moment we saw it, I was like, ‘She’s the one!’ We ended going to this coffee place to meet each other and there was this instant connection between all three of us. When we had gotten the master back she was in the mountains on a hike at the time and she told us at the coffee shop that she had been having this really bizarre personal experience in a relationship. She heard the song for the first time and she was looking out at the mountains and thought that was what she wanted to do in the video as well. We set up the shoot and were going to just take as many takes as we needed but we only did 4 or 5. It was comfortable and easy the whole time. It was a really powerful day: for an artist to watch another artist so in their element. What we had been doing throughout the takes – and what we had always talked about doing – was have her start really happy, praying, kneeling down and getting into that space, and as the song gets more emotional she gets more emotional and she starts to deteriorate even more. That was the routine up until that take and then two seconds before that one (we had already started the track, the countdown was going and the cameras were on) Joey was like, ‘Reverse it. Start really sad and get happy here, throughout the whole thing.’ That was the take that we used.
DB: You are collaborating soon on Extremely Bad Man which is an urban, indie, rock, pop project. Can you tell me a bit about that?
EJ: Yes. Julio [Tavarez] I’ve known through the touring band, rock scene for many years. He’s a few years older than me and when his first band started to tour and come down to Florida. He was a mentor for many years and as that band continued to grow and have success – and Hey Mondays started to happen around the same time – so we were always synching up and going to each other’s shows and we were always talking about the day that we would do a project together. He was living in LA a few years before I came here and again, same thing, when I would come on tour we would always synch up for days at a time. I moved here and we got so comfortable as collaborators. Then he found a publishing deal with the same publisher and started writing production tracks and making tons of volume for them as well and started building his catalogue. He got more and more used to the same concepts and ideas that I guess we’ve all eventually got to with Blossöm. Last summer we met this other guy Kochak, who’s from the north-east, from a place where the real hip hop happened. We met at another studio out here and he somehow got my number and got in touch with me and wanted to get lunch with me and hear more about what I was doing. At the lunch he had this whole folder of stuff and he left me with it, and 15 minutes after he left I played the first track and I got 10 seconds in and I closed the track, and was like, ‘I’ve got something really special and this guy’s amazing! He’s what we’ve been looking for.’ I started playing the beats to Julio the next time he came over and that’s when we started making “Up With The Birdies” and “Venice” which are the first two singles. From there we had this guy who was making these incredibly unique and dark and cool beats – just drum beats, very non-tonal and very short, just little ideas and thoughts, but those thoughts… we knew what he meant. For us, as musicians, we just started taking those beats, just chopping them and playing instruments over them and changing the keys and reversing them. It all became like Frankenstein: we started singing and writing stuff on top of it and then put a nicer, cheesier layer on it. Then it sounded like a ‘thing’ and we talked about making an album of it, what we would want it to sound like and all our shared influences – this was the perfect opportunity to do that. Before we knew it we were making an album: it was supposed to be two songs, then an EP, then it became a whole record, then more than a record, so we have three more singles to come out that I love, that are very different. I had the opportunity to do a project with people I very much admired, and the freedom to not have someone telling me how it should be to make it more listenable. We all felt so strongly and so passionately at that point and our musical careers have done well but only in these spaces for so long that this was the greatest therapy of all time. (Laughs)
DB: The fact that this started from a little kernel, someone else’s idea.
EJ: Yeah, and a real idea that no one else would have touched: he could have gone all over town and played those clips to different people, I very much doubt many would have seen what we saw in it. Cobe works with everyone already anyway: he could do whatever he wanted with that stuff but we had an immaculate vision that we thought we could pull off – and it worked. Every time we all got in a room together, to try to do it, it worked every time, effortlessly, and I had never had that, especially on a new project when you don’t even know what it is. Everyone was in synch the whole time and super-comfortable, able to be silly, and I know that sounds childish but that’s what’s required sometimes. One of my favourites on there, called “Stay” which is split up into two parts, features our friend Alexis. We went to high school with her and we hadn’t seen her or spoken to her in like 8 years but we went to this showcase one night and she just happened to be playing there, we decided to go and watch her because she wouldn’t have expected to see us. She was performing and then she saw us and smiled. We had to leave and then maybe two hours later that night she called us and said she was coming over. She came over at 2 in the morning and we just sat in my living room and wrote and recorded that song in one night. The first part is the demo and the second is the recording we made from that demo and it all plays as one thing.
DB: The other hat you wear is that of the creative director/designer of the vinyl records. I assume you are working on the new album artwork.
EJ: Yes, we are still deciding how and what that’s going to look like. We’ve been working with Russ Murphy (another British visual artist) and he’s the one that’s made that Bad Man face and the aesthetic of the whole thing. He made like 40 or 50 different versions to get to that red one, but we have other versions from the process of that that we’ll be releasing with the singles, and then we’ll still be making more stuff with him once the album’s out so we can make the vinyl.
DB: Because vinyl’s such a big thing again.
EJ: That’s also why I’ve gotten to work on some of those vinyls: because a lot of those albums were never even pressed and then people started buying vinyl again. All the majors were sitting on these incredible records that had never been pressed. It’s a dream to have some of these albums in your hands. The fact that I got to be part of that is really cool.
DB: So do you tend to do that in a compartmentalised way?
EJ: I like my day to have a flow, so when I’m working on that album, I’m working on that album and when I’m designing, I’m designing. I only will do the vinyl stuff when there’s a lull in my season. I’ll get to a place where I’m like at a cruising altitude, and I feel like working on that stuff, and when if opportunities come about, I’ll say yes to them. I believe in synchronicity and chance – I don’t believe in solicitation, I don’t want to knock on people’s doors – but if it shows up in our emails and it makes sense and is cool then we’ll love to figure out a way to do it.
DB: In what way is creating music similar, or different, from when you are creating artwork and visuals?
EJ: It’s all the same. It’s just the paintbrush and I see the guitar as a paintbrush as much as a coloured pencil. I’m still using my hands, even if it’s a computer or record something. My hands. My decision. I’m deciding how long or short in the stroke, in the audio. It’s painting with the senses. When I’m doing visual arts stuff I’m just working within the canvas but that’s it.
DB: When you do your music, does it create a visual image?
EJ: Yeah, always, definitely. I’m such a visual person that… like I failed math over and over again at school but I was so good at geometry because it’s all shapes. My mind just works visually: everything in my head gets broken down into coloured blocks, positions, arrangements and compositions. I arrange visually what I hear. I was so good at the age of 8 at memorising a song after only hearing it once, that my mum went out and got a CD of all the times tables as songs, and that’s all we listened to driving to and from Tesco’s and school. But I just couldn’t get it. My brain doesn’t work with numbers like that, it’s not tapped into my wiring.
DB: The vinyls have amazing covers and artwork.
EJ: My favourite ones are when the label comes and they provide the assets but they don’t have that much, because that gives me way more freedom to do whatever I want at that point. I do whatever is truest to the song, whatever I think would have been wanted to have come out, that’s where I begin with what I’m going to do. With Sponge Bob Square Pants, they didn’t have a whole lot of stuff for that, but they liked what we did and Nickelodeon were really cool – I saw the images of the characters and thought that was really interesting. Another one was the Maroon 5 one, which didn’t come with anything other than the front cover and a photo of the band that I had on the inside and made look like a screen print. I just try to make it all look cohesive. I know what it’s like to open the record up and seen all the art and stuff, growing up, so that’s what I’m thinking of, every time.
DB: So what’s the process? You have in the back of your mind what you want it to be when you open the album up. Do you listen to the music?
EJ: I tend to say yes to the ones that ask that are things that I have already known and loved, or have some semblance of it. So the Batman one that they did with Uncle, I played that video game a few years ago and knew the music and the story of the game and what it all looked like. The A&R had the idea for the characters inside and the comic gave us all the characters, individually, so I just edited them, put them all together and we found a flow where every one looked right. Most of the records I knew the music very well, I was a fan of the album or I was listening to it a lot while I was making it. Again the formality, you’ve got the guts: the track list has to go on the back somewhere; the credits have to go somewhere like this. You know everything that you have to include and it’s the arrangement: what’s the best way that this can all to fit together that’s unique and awesome and doesn’t take away from the actual art of the whole thing. I am very focussed on the art and the print design and the credentials being the way that they should be, historically.
DB: I was going to ask: deciding on what font to use…
EJ: I just love fonts, I’ve always loved fonts and know a lot about fonts. I can usually tell you what font it is. (Laughs) They have different personalities, the different brushes, historically certain fonts are used for certain things in certain ways. I remember… You know when you go to a movie theatre and before they have a trailer they have that green slide with the white text that says ‘This trailer has been rated for…’? A few years ago I remember walking in a theatre and I saw they had changed the font and I knew the font that they had changed it to. The moment I saw that I realised that was where design was going next and that played into the way I used that font in the next ten releases I did, probably. I read it like the weather.
DB: Touching a little bit more on music: who are your musical influences?
EJ: I feel like they change often because I am always bored because I learn everything so fast and I’m always looking for the progression, what’s next, the difference and the risk. I want to be the risk-taker; I don’t want to hear saturated music that all sounds the same. I have consistently loved a lot of the same things for most of my life too, like: The Streets and Coldplay and Moby, Bob Marley, Nina Simone dashed with Michael Jackson – my favourite thing about music is Michael Jackson – Sting and Queen and everyone who ever played Live Aid, Mark Knopfler. I’m obsessed with the Beatles. I love Radiohead, Robbie Williams, New Radicals. I wish I had my vinyls by me right now! (Both laugh) I like Di Angelo , Buddy Rich. I love obscure Latin and South African music, weird instrumental vocal-only stuff, all the Ethiopics’ volumes, the bizarre parentage blues. Mostly everything but Country. Jonny Greenwood made an album in India a few years back, that I’m obsessed with that. My favourite Gorillaz album is Plastic Beach and they went overseas to make a lot of that; the solo album that Damon made after that was also made in Kenya and Morocco. I love the crossover and am after the hybrid. You can probably tell by my stuff. I just don’t want people to have an idea of what I’m doing but understand it; I don’t want them to be able to think what they are going to hear next.
I love the hip hop thing because it is so free, it’s such a rule breaker and that’s why they get to fit so much cool stuff into it and there’s still so many places hip hop can go – and that’s why I love it because everything else doesn’t feel that way to me. I’m this weird, multi-genre, crossover, contorted, British, songwriter guy. My decisions are rock but I don’t need that genre all the time. The Kendrick album is one of the top flight albums of all time. What he’s done is impossible, absolutely remarkable, the biggest record that I keep going back to over the course of the last year. There’s nobody else like him and there’s never been anyone else like him, no one else could have made that album and I can’t even believe, when I listen to it, that it does exist and that we have it and someone made it. It won a Pulitzer so…
DB: What was the last live concert you did go to?
EJ: Gorillaz, but it was because I’ve been waiting 15 years to see them. I wasn’t going to go and I was sitting here at the house and the concert was that night and I thought I had to do it and would go by myself. I drove over to the Forum in the Park and was there in ten minutes – they went on five minutes after I got there. It was awesome!
DB: What sort of music are you listening to at the moment?
EJ: I like a lot of the Beats1 music that Apple does with Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga and Matt Wilkinson: that’s a really big discovery point for me. A lot of tribal stuff and instrumental, downtempo music. I listen to Talk Talk consistently, especially the last two albums. Tim Maia, The Soul Of Brazil, he’s incredible, one of the best. I’m listening to a lot of the Extremely Bad Man album a lot right now, just because it’s about to come out, so I feel like listening to it again because it’s some time since we made it. I love the new Arctic Monkeys’ album, I think it’s a masterpiece. Kendrick, Brock Hampton, Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach – I listen to a lot of Burt.
DB: Do you have any guilty musical pleasures?
EJ: I do! Grease is my guilty pleasure. I love Grease. I love those songs! Oh my God! I love the Bee Gees and the fact that Frankie Valli is singing that song – the whole thing. Reds is another guilty pleasure, another musical show that I just know cover to cover, obsessively. That’s my era too because although I was born in England and grew up there, in the midst of moving around to all these other countries my access was always only ever what America could get to reach over there. Between my parents’ interests, what was available and what we could buy at the black market at night (tapes, CDs, VHS) all of my interests were global but stuck at the same time.
DB: What does music mean to you?
EJ: It’s like the ultimate freedom of expression to me. Music is my favourite way of performance. Music, the way it makes you feel when you’re performing it… it isn’t like anything else. When that adrenaline hits, on that stage, with that in front of you and all those people on stage with you, that you just have this trust with… everything is moving at like a hundred miles and hour and it’s like a matrix, it’s really slow. The whole show – every moment – is happening really fast but you’re like dodging bullets and looking at the path and the lily pads, and you’re constantly creating your line. You are constantly in the moment but thinking right ahead and you’re enjoying every second because you’re so relaxed you’re not actually thinking about anything. Performing is what I do this for, it’s what I love the most and it’s what made me realise I could never give up doing this. You know that, whatever has happened up to that moment, you can’t think about it because you are in the arena. It’s like a gladiator mentality. You are only there to do one thing and you’ve got to do it well, and it requires all of your attention and none of it at all. You reach this sort of moment of Zen and you’re in that thing, and seeing someone in that state, that’s very captivating to watch and I think that’s when I get excited as a fan. The thing you are thinking about is how can you do something different and then it becomes like playdough and it’s control, and that control in the moment is crazy because, in real-time, you see everything you do, every wink, decision, smile or interaction is amplified by the sound of the audience, they yell and respond off your mannerisms and decisions. I just want to live in that.
DB: And how do you feel when you immediately come off stage?
EJ: The best and the worst. It feels like the best if you know you’re going to do it again: if you’re on a sixty date tour, and you know after day twenty that there’s a gazillion more shows there’s no time to be upset that the shows done, because you get to do it again tomorrow and the day after that as well. Then you get to the end of the tour and you really are sad that it’s over because all the effort and work, the standing in line and the flights and immigration, the hotels and jet lag, not having cell phone coverage in this area, losing that luggage, that guitar, the sound check was terrible but the audience turned up… all of that but the show went great and it worked… it’s like the best thing ever and it was all worth it. So the moment that it’s over it’s heart wrenching because that’s what we do it for, that moment, and it’s very short-lived. At the end of the hour set you’re literally exhausted and you’ve given everything you have, and your adrenaline is beginning to deplete. You are drained like an athlete. You’re so ready to get off, relax, drink water and eat a nice meal and sleep in a cosy bed but… you can only enjoy it if you already know that you will get to do it all again tomorrow because, if you don’t get to do it tomorrow, it’s so sad that it’s already over.
Three questions we ask everybody:
DB: Do you have a favourite word?
EJ: No, I don’t think so, if I do it’s only because it’s my favourite right now because I happen to use it for something but as soon as I’ve used it I’ve burned it, so now I can go and get another word.
DB: How would you describe your perfect day?
EJ: I would swim. I would do yoga. I’d eat a lot of good meals. I would have to be laughing a lot, dancing and just being in the moment – being present is very important to me – not spending too much time on tech and phones and computers. I try to go back to using my hands because then I’m really living, I’m real. And then music somewhere and a film. I try to watch a film every day or every other day – I am so so so into films. I watch a lot of Korean stuff. It’s constant inspiration and constant comfort. It’s so different from what I do, it’s such a relief, a reset: to be able to roll back to that.
DB: What could you not possibly live without?
EJ: Family. Everything else I love, a lot. I love it so much that I’ve made half of my life miserable trying maintain doing it, because it’s all that I love and it comes with such a lot of juggling and spinning plates, and balancing and sacrifices. It’s everything to me! But at the end of the day I also enjoy it because I’ve been dealt a good hand in terms of family and the people who mentored me and taught me. What we have with Blossöm is family too and I would take a bullet for any of those guys, as they would for me. As far as my actual family are concerned too, I would do anything for any of those guys. The way they’ve done anything for me and ultimately I’m doing all these things so that one day I can pack up and do nothing with all of them. As long as it gets to that in the end, it also doesn’t really matter how we all get there. The goal is to get back to a place where we can all do nothing.
The album Extremely Bad Man was released on July 13th 2018.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Any opinions or views expressed within the interview are the subject’s own and publication does not imply endorsement of any such opinions or views by Absolute Music Chat or its personnel.