Brave James’ first two singles, ‘Soldier’ and ‘Lighthouse’, have introduced him as an artist with his own vision, with a distinctive amalgamation of luscious vocal harmonies, maximalist production and a philosophical slant. Gaining support from BBC Introducing, it makes his upcoming debut album an intriguing prospect, and that fascination builds as he today shares his third single ‘The Gates’.
‘The Gates’ opens with woozy, fractured synths, a manipulated sound that coalesces with percussion reminiscent of London’sunderground lo-fi jazz scene. Brave James’ airy vocals then drift through the ether to create something with the warmth of an organic live performance and with intricate, nuanced production. As a result, ‘The Gates’ has a foot in experimental electronica, alt-pop and vocal harmony groups without being dominated by any one of those approaches.
Brave James says, “This was one of the last tracks I wrote for the album, channelling some of those insular lockdown feelings we are all emerging from into something immersive and beat-driven. I was playing around at the time with this unusual chord sequence that felt powerful – the song kept building and building from there.”
‘The Gates’ is the first single that Brave James has single-handedly written and produced, having collaborated with Oli Rockberger (Jordan Rakei, Gregory Porter) on his previous releases. Watch the visual BELOW:
Brave James’ songwriting often starts by experimenting with loops and unconventional sonics. The prevailing atmosphere then feeds into the lyrics, which symbolically confronts those things people would rather avoid facing – overwhelming emotions, societal disconnection and finding one’s place in the world. He cites James Blake, Tennyson, Jon Hopkins and Bon Iver as inspirations, but his vocal influences come from an entirely different musical lineage: Take 6, The Beach Boys and even The Real Group.
The London-based Australian artist started the Brave James project during lockdown. That separation provided him with the time to truly focus on honing his sound, and the time he spent alone inspired his reflective lyricism. Even his image defies expectation, with a larger-than-life glam style that’s more long-lost Scissor Sister than introspective producer.