James Arthur Supporting Paloma Faith at The Big Feastival
James is rubbish at blowing his own trumpet, so let’s do it for him. Two Brit nominations. An American Music Award nomination for Best New Artist. A mighty 8 million singles sales. A No 1 single and album in the UK. 1.6 million album sales. A No 1 record at US radio. The highest selling X Factor winner’s single since the show began. Rumours of a Grammys nomination.
That’s an incredible record for an artist in what are only the early stages of his career. Far from being daunted by such stats, though, James is determined to build upon them. Working on the new album with leading lights such as Ryan Tedder, Justin Tranter and Max Martin, James has rediscovered the passion for music that he first experienced as a child. Touring this past summer around the States with OneRepublic was, he says, similarly inspiring and rejuvenating.
He may be comfortable talking about the past, but James is firmly focused on the here and now, and his plans for 2018. He understands, he emphasises, why some people may choose to dwell on the troubled times he went through: “They’re part of the story, so it’s natural. What’s changed is that I refuse to be a victim. I made that promise to myself and I’m sticking to it. I’m happy to discuss my past, I mean, it’s part of me, isn’t it, so why not? But I’m also looking forward to the day when the first question isn’t: ‘Let’s talk about your fall from grace. “Having an anxiety disorder, and an addictive personality, is both a blessing and a curse. It means that I have to check myself a lot, because the panic attacks are scary, and can come from nowhere. And I can get addicted to anything, to cups of tea. I’ve just started bingeing on box sets, and it feels like I’ve slipped through a hole in the floor! At the same time, it means I keep an eye on myself, and make sure I’m being creative, and channelling that energy. I have to work at it, basically. But I’m aware of it, and that’s a huge change.”
Right now, he has a sensational new single to promote, and a tour to prepare for. Back doing what he does best, and loves most, James Arthur is continuing to write new chapters in one of the more remarkable stories in recent pop history, and reconnecting with that “passion and purity”. He spent years finding his feet, losing his way, picking himself up and throwing himself back into the fray. Making music isn’t a choice, he says, it’s a compulsion. Listen to Naked, to the rumble and urgency of James’s extraordinary voice, and you understand at once what he means when he says: “Passion is surrender. You can’t hesitate, try to second-guess yourself. You just have to let go and dive in. I’m much more conscious now of the passage of time, of the importance of making decisions that will benefit me in the future. I’m growing up, finally. And it’s exciting. I feel ready for the rest of my life now. I’m a singer. Nothing else matters.”
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