Music & Me with … James E. Gray

- 01 Sep 2019 -
Image: James E. Gray, Alt-Psych-Pop-Rock | London | UK

When were you first introduced to music?

My mum tells me that as a very young child I used to ask her if we could sit in the kitchen in the dark and listen to Simon & Garfunkel. I grew out of that and then recall my childhood mostly consisting of listening to The Lightning Seeds on cassette tape in my dad’s car. Two other important early musical encounters include hearing Muse’s ‘Plug in Baby’ and Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ each for the first time at the age of 11 or 12. I perceived them as audio sorcery. I promptly borrowed my sister’s little Casio keyboard and spent the next many years desperately trying to figure out the hidden secrets behind the seemingly expressionless white and black keys that sat in front of me.

Tell me about your favourite teachers

My science teacher at secondary school, Mr Walker, is partially responsible for igniting my quest to try to understand the nature of reality. This theme is the basis for many of my lyrics. Regardless of whether what he said is true or not, it seemed to alter something in my brain and prompted me to question everything. He started by drawing the basic structure of an atom on the board; electrons orbiting a nucleus. Next, he drew the structure of the solar system; planets orbiting the sun, before turning to us and speculating, “What if our solar system is an atom, itself, part of a much larger reality, and what if our atoms are actually solar systems of a much smaller reality?”

What are your fondest musical memories?

I have loved working with my best friend, Eduardo, in our joint venture, ’Dear Sherlock’. I feel like everything he touches turns to gold. As with my other musical idols, he’s some kind of melodic sorcerer. I’m particularly fond of the times we’ve spent in his hometown, Porto, in the sun, writing songs together with a bottle of SuperBock and beautiful scenery. Thankfully, there’s a lot more of that to come.

What is your favourite TV theme tune and film soundtrack?

I could listen to the main title theme of the TV show ‘Randall and Hopkirk Deceased’, forever, on a loop. Although, I’ve never actually seen the show. As for my favourite film soundtrack; A Clockwork Orange. The main theme for this is an awesome electronic version of ‘Music for the Funeral March of Queen Mary’, composed in 1695 by Henry Purcell.

What was the last music download/ CD you bought?

The last CD I bought was an odd limited edition tin version of the album, ‘Tin Planet’ (1998), by the band, Space, which I found in a charity shop.

Imagine you’ve been given GBP 250.00 to spend on equipment, downloads, vinyl, CDs, DVDs or concert tickets. How will you spend it?

Seeing as though I don’t get to as many concerts as I would like, I’d probably buy tickets to see some acts I’ve not yet seen, such as; Temples and Black Honey. Oh, and Paul McCartney!

How do you balance music with your other obligations?

With difficulty! The hardest part is probably that, because I receive very little financial income from music at the moment, there’s always a need to earn money in other ways hanging over me. I also start to become addicted to working on something. There is a Dear Sherlock track that we’re currently mixing that we’ve been working on for 6 years. That track will be out very soon though, finally!

Happiness is  … From a definitive perspective, I suppose it is achieving healthy functioning levels of serotonin, dopamine and other such things. How does one do that? I think because each person is in a different situation and needs differing external factors to cause specific interactions with their internal chemical composition, it’s difficult to give a universal answer. I suspect that we’re probably not supposed to live in these big concrete zoos (cities). I feel instantly soothed by the sound of a trickling water fountain. I especially like creating music, researching science, politics and mysterious or strange things like UFOs. I have found that spending alone time trying to visualise or conceptualise difficult things like the edge of the universe and/or ‘nothingness’, helps me to feel calmer in everyday life. I also love being with my fiancé; eating pizza, watching football and trying to stay fit/healthy/alive.








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