Friday, April 19 2024

Welcome to today’s interview, where we delve into the intricate world of music with a remarkable artist. We’re thrilled to be speaking with James Fair, the creative mind behind the captivating album ‘The Hobbyist‘ under the moniker Gingerjamesfair. With 17 tracks, ‘The Hobbyist’ offers a unique exploration into the realm of hobbies and pastimes. Recorded over the summer of 2023 but finalised and mixed amidst personal turmoil in the vibrant city of Marrakech, the album has a distinctive flavour to its final sound. Additionally, drawing influences from the sun-soaked beaches of The Beach Boys to the introspective melodies of Sufjan Stevens, Gingerjamesfair has created a diverse palette of intriguing music and melodies. Join us as we find out more about ‘The Hobbyist’ and discover the creative alchemy that brings this album to life.

Thanks for joining us James and congratulations on the new album ‘The Hobbyist.’ 

How and why did the theme of hobbies influence the concept and songwriting of the album? And, how much of the album is written from personal experience?

This project was intended to be the opposite of my previous album, which had focused on our jobs and the crappy world of work. Most of that was quite cynical and despairing, so I wanted this to be fun and sincere. I can’t say that I have experience of all the hobbies on the album. I wrote it more as a set of characters to try and represent the way in which hobbies are diverse, quirky, multifaceted things.

Gingerjamesfair Singer Songwriter

How has your musical journey so far shaped the creation of ‘The Hobbyist,’ compared to your previous works?

I’ve always tried to take on new musical approaches with each project. ”Lunarticks’ used loads of e-bow guitar, ‘The Unreachable Peak’ used lots of slide guitar, with this album I introduced a banjo. Lyrically, I’ve enjoyed making concept albums for a few projects now, but I’m not sure whether I will stick with that or not for future projects. 

Having mixed the album in Marrakech, how did this impact the album’s final sound during the mixing process?

When I completed the recording, there was quite a lot of instrumentation that I’d added for the sake of having things to work with in the mix. I don’t know the musical term, but in filmmaking we’d call it coverage, a lot of shots to choose the edit from. Being in Marrakech was useful for recognising the simple beauty in things rather than being complicated. So, I took a lot of the instrumentation out, and made it sparse. Less is best and all that. 

You mentioned intentionally keeping imperfections in the recording process. What do you feel this contributed to the album’s overall vibe?

There’s two answers to this. One is honest and the other is probably over-theorising it to justify it. The honest answer is that I find that mixing and mastering an album has diminishing returns after a while. You can change significant things, but getting into eradicating all the imperfections takes ages, is no longer fun and removes most of the character out it. So the fret scrapes stay. The pretentious answer is that computers seem to make everything sound the same these days, so leaving the imperfections in proves that it’s human. That said, I have a friend who works for a MIDI orchestration company that put the imperfections into digital music now too, so you can’t trust anything!

Gingerjamesfair 1

As someone who prefers recording over live performances, how do you engage with your audience and convey emotions through your music?

Engaging with an audience is very hard without playing live. The reality is that there is a lot of music out there and it is hard to stand out and get someone’s attention for the length of a song. I stopped playing live in 2009. I just didn’t enjoy it and got far too many nerves before and during the performances. The conclusion I’ve come to is that I like song writing, and as long as I do it authentically and honestly, and share what I make, it may resonate with others who feel similarly. I’ve had random people write to me saying that they like what I do, so that is rewarding.

What’s next for you musically, and are there any upcoming projects or directions you’re excited to pursue?

I’m going to spend a few months trying to get better at the bass and my guitar without any intention of recording. Then I have a few ideas on the to-do list: dusting off the Tascam 4-track for an album, a musical, some more film scores, and an album that’s produced entirely using MIDI tools but sounds nothing like what a computer would dream up! 

And, finally, a question for fun …. If ‘The Hobbyist’ were adapted into a movie, what genre would it be, who would direct it, and, who would you want to star in it?

This is a great question. I think it would probably be a mumblecore movie, with Noah Baumbach vibes. He’s too A-list for directing that now, so we’d need some wannabe Baumbach film-school graduate. No stars obviously. Strictly amateurs and hobbyists. 

And, that wraps up our conversation with James Fair, the mind behind Gingerjamesfair’s latest album, ‘The Hobbyist.’ From its inception to the final mixing process in Marrakech, James has offered us a glimpse into his musical journey. With its thematic and experimental approach, and unabashed embrace of imperfections, ‘The Hobbyist’ showcases the beauty of authenticity in music. As James embarks on his future endeavours, we eagerly look forward to the next chapter, whatever that might be. Stay tuned for more from Gingerjamesfair.

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About Author

Matt Warren

Matt Warren is a Cheshire based musician who studied contemporary music and composition. When not writing for The Indie Grid he enjoys watching 'Breaking Bad' on continuous loop and going to gigs. Since a youngster his fave band have been 'The Beatles' (with 'Cardiacs' in at a close second)... and this still applies to this day.

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