After university in Swansea, he moved to Bristol and now lives in the Frome area of Somerset.
James had started to bring Pink Floyd songs into his set and was told he would be booked for the whole evening if he concentrated solely on Pink Floyd, since when he has acquired a foot-operated device which allows him to record himself and loop as he plays, so layering the sound in a way which feels just right for Pink Floyd.
James admits it’s a bit like spinning plates: “Nothing is pre-recorded, but Pink Floyd’s music works really well with that layering effect. You can have a slow build-up and then just build it up and up and up.”
He started out with songs from Dark Side of the Moon and has now introduced songs from the Meddle album, also adding in a few from The Wall “and a smattering of other albums.”
Now he is wanting to delve into the early Pink Floyd, the Syd Barrett era: “That era is very, very different. It’s a lot more chordally complex than the later stuff. Some of the later stuff is more jazz-orientated. The Syd Barrett stuff is more quirky. The shorter songs are quite odd and go off in weird directions.”
Generally with Pink Floyd: “I love the space that they manage to put in. They don’t try to fill every arc with stuff with their complexity and their virtuosity, and I love David Gilmour’s guitar-playing. It is that combination of musicians that made them very special.
“Usually I will now play three or four of my own songs in a set as well. Sometimes it is during the first half of the set or to finish off the first half, or sometimes when it comes to the encore I might do a few of mine.”
The point is that looping is very liberating, James says.
“I have been working with multi-effects for 20 years, but when you get the loops, you are able to make more use of those sounds. My looper is called a Boomerang III, and you have got two modes, one serial where it is one loop after another, and the other mode is where you can do the loops concurrently. You can get a set of four in synchronised mode and then you can use them on top of each other. You can end up with a 16-track recorder.”
The possibilities are huge. As he says, James doesn’t often go for the full 16; sometimes he will set up a loop and then delete it.
The whole thing can be a bit hair-raising, James says: “But my approach is that it is good to put yourself in that situation. David Bowie said that when you put yourself outside your comfort zone, that’s when you will do something interesting.”
Six years after starting loops, James is developing his use of the looping machine to maintain that challenge: “I want to be outside my comfort zone again. It is brilliant.
“With music, it is always about practice. If you put the mileage in, you will get the results. It is worth it.”
Since turning professional in 2006 James has played numerous festivals, private bookings, folk, acoustic and rock venues and nationally, supported Nick Harper (twice), Cara Dillon, Hazel O’Connor, 60s legends It’s a Beautiful Day and Barry ‘The Fish’ Melton (of Country Joe and The Fish),
www.jameshollingsworth.com; www.youtube.com/user/JMWHMusic; www.facebook.com/jameshollingsworthmusic.
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