Ian James independent musician
With a valuable lesson for all
How to approach anyone who can help your career
I opened my email inbox the other day and, after deleting all the pointless messages from ebay, facebook, youtube etc that just duplicate what they tell me when I go to the respective sites, I was left with one interesting email.
Yep I am currently happy to report that I don’t (yet) get so many emails that I can’t get through them all, unlike a lot of radio DJs and reviewers that I know of. I expect that will probably change though. Not sure if that is a good thing or not!
The message was well thought out and focused on how it would benefit ME rather than the sender. Here is what it said,
my name is Ian James, an unsigned artist from the Boston MA area in the
US. I learned of you through our mutual friend Tizzy of XRPRadio. First
thanks for being such a great ambassador to unsigned artists, I’ve
checked out your site and blog and think you’re doing a wonderful service!
I would like to invite you to hear my work (some of it has appeared on
XRP), and maybe consider some mention or inclusion with what you’re doing
with your blog. I am the type to cross promote and also share, I do not
treat this as a one way street only seeking my own promotion, I would do
everything I can to let my audience (as small as it might be) know about
the people who help promote me. I’ve attached a couple tracks for your
preview…. I have a new album coming out this year, but these tracks are
from last years release “Grand Delusions” If you’re interested in hearing
the whole album, I can invite you to my dropbox folder. I will check out
the other resources you list on your site. Thanks so much for your time.
All the best, Ian James
Now I would be the first to admit that my blog is not the most influential resource in the inde music business today, but clearly a few people are beginning to find it and make use of it, and when somebody approaches me with something like that I cannot possibly ignore it. It is a perfect example of the sort of message you should send to anyone who might be able to help your musical career. No matter how big or small they are.
The email included two tracks for me to check out so I am doing so.
First out of the trap is “In Your Spell”
It kicks off with a worrying drum machine sound but quickly settles down and becomes quite believable.
My immediate thought was of a sort of revved up Beach Boys but, within a few bars, I dispelled that thought and began to sense that Ian has not quite grown out of the eighties post punk goth era. This tracks puts one in mind of The Cult, “She Sells Sanctuary”, for example. (not a bad thing of course)
I played it on my computer speakers for a change (instead of headphones) and asked my wife what she thought of it. She is ten years younger than me, so was a child of the eighties. She said she felt as though thought she ought to know it. As though it was some sort of band that she knew of back in the late eighties but had just forgotten about. She is also about the same age as Ian so that makes perfect sense.
Ian describes himself as the bastard child of Jimi Hendrix and Boba Fett. Whilst I can detect a trace of Hendrix-ness in the guitar it is the vocals which dictates the feel of the music as a whole and Ian’s vocal tone is more Ian Astbury than Jimi Hendrix. At no point in the songs do I detect a propensity for capturing roving space pirates and delivering them into the hands of slug-like crime lords, but perhaps that is a sideline.
The second track is “Alone And Grey” and has the same sort of vibe. There is a slightly lo-fi sound which I am quite sure is deliberate. The playing is very good and there is no suggestion that this artist would not be able to produce a polished, slick, pop song if they wanted to. Simply that they do not want to, so the vocals are edgy, as though they could go off the rails at any moment. It sounds like he is singing whilst suspended above a fiery bottomless pit and the tension in his voice is caused by the high priestess’ hand straying ever closer to the lever that will plunge him to his doom.
Although this second track has a little less dynamic than the first, it does bask in an unexpected coda just after what seems like the real finish. Sadly many DJs would just cut that bit off, or talk over it, but then that is most DJs for you. I bet Tizzy Shearer doesn’t do that.
Ian releases his music on Blue FX records the link goes to their myspace profile but I can’t find a current active website.