From Marrakech to Your Ears: Chatting with gingerjamesfair about “The Hobbyist”

Today’s interview is all about music with the artist, James Fair or better known as gingerjamesfair. This is definitely exciting for us, to have him here and talk about his latest album, “The Hobbyist”. 17 tracks breeze us through different hobbies and pastimes, recorded during all that energy we feel in Marakech when everything was going bad.

James vindicates many different sources of inspiration, such as the sun-kissed harmonies of The Beach Boys and the inner-conscious of Sufjan Stevens. In ” The Hobbyist, ” he creates an astonishing mix of lyricism and storytelling with a touch of insightfulness and true intimacy.

The album is the embodiment of Gingerjamesfair/s  late father who was a true hobbyist, and it explores the topics of death, introspection and the feeling of joy from pursuing a dream. Every track focuses on a particular interest, be it from fishing to skydiving, while it alludes to life’s many different routines and the memories they evoke.

As one listens to “Murmuration” with its multiple layers, to the thoughtful words of “We Can Save for A Telescope Sometime” he invites us to walk through the beauty of the simplicity of daily pleasures.

Through the years, Gingerjamesfair’s  has stayed true to his shonky-sound shoengma and continues to leave his audiences mesmerized with his raw explicitness and catchy sounds. As for today, we’ll get to his creative process, his music influences and his next output. Therefore, come with us, be comfortable, and see with us how art magic happens in “The Hobbyist” and the creative part of gingerjamesfair.


Listen to The Hobbyist below


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What is your stage name:

My music goes under a moniker of gingerjamesfair. It’s not really a stage name as such, as I don’t really go on stage!

Is there a story behind your stage name?

It’s literal. My actual name is James Fair, and I am a ginger. The idea of sticking it all together in lower case came from the early days of email. Then it’s kind of stuck. I’m going bald now, but it’s too much of a faff to be called gingerbeardjamesfair, so the old name stays.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in loads of stuff. Books, films, people watching. I am constantly jealous of musicians like The Benja Men, KateGoes, The Sound of Bailey, and their work inspires me.

What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
My teenage years were the height of Britpop, which was a great time musically. Before that was my parents’ record collection, which was eclectic. Stuff like James Last, Enya and Captain Beaky sat beside Moody Blues, Beach Boys and Queen via Stravinsky, Abba and Santana. Anything and everything basically.

Are you from a musical or artistic family?

Not in a traditional sense. My family weren’t musicians but everyone loved music. They weren’t artists but they had creative outlets. My mum is a master cakemaker and my dad was a miniature railway fanatic. Both creative, but neither would consider themselves artists.

Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?

I got into it because Blur put chords of their songs into their CD sleeves. That was the way in. Been hooked ever since.

How did you learn to sing/write/to play?

I was self taught from those CD inlays. Then I just took it from there. I’m still learning, always looking to get better at it.

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I was self taught from those CD inlays. Then I just took it from there.

What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?

I think it was probably Space and Catatonia at the old Astoria, but around that time was also U2’s Popmart Tour at Wembley. I think I was sent to a Suzanne Vega gig before that in Hemel Hempstead as part of work experience at a local paper, but I’m not sure that counts.

How could you describe your music?

I never know what genres I am supposed to pick when classifying it. It’s technically ‘singer/songwriter’, but if I had to describe it outside of that, I’d call it shonky-sound-storytelling. That seems about right.

Describe your creative process.

There’s no fixed process between albums, but on a project I’ll normally take a singular approach for consistency. On ‘The Hobbyist’ I went from demos recorded on Quicktime video (so I could remember how to play it), then lyrics, then Garageband recording with as much stuff that I could put in to it, then mixing/mastering. But I’ve done it different ways on different projects, so I’m not fussed. Changing the process is the process itself.

What is your main inspiration?

It changes. I can’t think of a singular inspiration beyond the desire to create things. That’s the uniform connection that links all the stuff together. I think I find that process inspiring, especially if it results in an output that I can remember it by. I think Jimi Hendrix said writing music was like writing a diary. I can identify with that as an inspiration.

What musician do you admire most and why?

Probably Damon Albarn or Sufjan Stevens, because of their ability to transcend genres. And I love their prolific outputs.

Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
I think that’s natural as you mature. I swear less in songs now, because I hate seeing the explicit label next to my earlier music. I try to improve technically as I get older, but with limited success.

Who do you see as your main competitor?
Cliché answer but I don’t consider myself in competition with anyone other than myself. I try to improve on the previous project in small increments. Truth is that I am in competition with everybody else for the attention and ears of an audience. In that sense my main competitor is Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran!

What are your interests outside of music?
I love reading and watching movies. I love spending time with my wife doing goofy stuff.

If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?

Ha ha ha. Musical career. Does that exist anymore? I’m a lecturer in a university in ‘real life’, teaching cinema. That’s enough awesomeness for me.

What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
Honestly, getting through to an audience that may like my stuff. There’s so much music now and I’m only adding to the noise, literally. I think there’s a huge role to be played in curation, helping audiences navigate this abundance of stuff. I’d appreciate that as a consumer as much as a creator.

If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?

Meh, there are people way more qualified than me to discuss this. If I had to get on the soapbox and give my ill-informed opinion, I’d want audiences to recognise the value of music as a cultural pursuit rather than a commodity of content, which has little/no value beyond its economic value.

Steps to achieving that? Stop calling it an ‘industry’ when it probably isn’t in the economic sense of the word. There are plenty of industrious people working hard, but it isn’t a sustainable business model. Can someone else take the mic now please!?

Why did you choose this as the title of this project?

It seemed appropriate given it is a concept album around the theme of hobbies!

What are your plans for the coming months?

Musically, take some time to get better at my instruments and think of what may come next.

Do you have any artistic collaboration plans?

Nothing planned. Always open to offers. An old friend wanted me to do some mastering of their project. That could be fun.

What message would you like to give to your fans?

I think someone like Bertrand Russell said ‘It’s not a waste of time if you enjoy the time you waste’ or something like that. I think that’s a good message to give.

Mister Styx
Mister Styx
My name is Mister Styx and I'm a music blogger and an HVAC Engineer. I'm passionate about all kinds of music, from rock to hip-hop, Jazz, and Reggae as a matter of fact I am always eager to hear new sounds as music has no barrier, and I'm always looking for new sounds to explore. Hop on lets go fetch for some new sounds!

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