Bait My Soul is my new favorite song. James A.M. Downes just released Prison Font. Read all about it.
When did you realize you could really, I mean REALLY, sing?
I didn’t like the way I sang until about 5 years ago. I’ve been singing for about 20 years, and three quarters of that time was spent cringing at my own recordings.
I’m not sure the shift to being able to tolerate (and eventually like) my voice was associated with an increase in skill. I think it had more to do with the fact that I was entering a time in my life where I placed more value in the motive of music than it’s perfection.
Bait My Soul, what a great great song! That one wasn’t written in a day, was it?
It was written in one day. The lyrics came spilling out while I was looking through a buddy’s illustration sketch book. There was an unfinished drawing of a beautiful woman wearing a knit hat that has “Satan” written on it. I was reading Dante’s Inferno that week, so the concept of Satan was on my mind. Of special interest was the fanaticism that Dante wrote about right and wrong, good and evil. It was all pretty comical to me. I started to think about a satyrical approach to my own version of the Robert Johnson story (selling your soul to the devil in exchange for your desires to come to fruition). The musical part followed suit.
The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?
In one way, it already is a success for me. When the project started, my goal was to create an album where the creativity and inspiration was able to flow quickly, without getting bogged down by endless revisions. I was lucky to collaborate with three of my good friends (Greg Seltzer, Andrew Seltzer, Matt Cascella) in the writing and orchestration of this release- they helped insure that the momentum never slowed. It was a highly rewarding process.
In another way, I’ll consider this record a success when I know that anyone who would appreciate it has the chance to hear it. I think that comes with wide distribution. I’d love for millions of music lovers to get a chance to decide whether they like my offering or not. I’m proud of what my friends and I created and I want the world to hear it.
She will decide on a 5 song mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?
“Every Man Needs a Companion” Father John Misty
“Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” The Beatles
“N.I.B.” Black Sabbath
“Sweet Judy Blue Eyes” Crosby Stills Nash
“Only In Dreams” Weezer
How will you promote Prison Font?
In addition to spreading the word via social media and blogs (like you!), I’ll be pushing the album through video content. I love live/takeaway videos. Playing stripped down versions of the songs in unique settings is very inspiring to me. I recently released a video of a performance in a subway hallway (“Rolling Stoned” ). Today, I filmed a performance in a overpass tunnel. The acoustics were incredible, people were walking by… it was all very real. I hope the uniqueness of these videos will capture the imagination of the people who see them and they’ll be curious to learn more about the project.