INTERVIEW: James Bourne talks ‘Sugar Beach’ & his artistic evolution

INTERVIEW: James Bourne talks ‘Sugar Beach’ & his artistic evolution

James Bourne knows what it takes to achieve and maintain success in the music business. Having first risen to fame as 1/3 of boyband Busted, he's been a well-known face and name in the industry for two decades, both on and off stage, thanks to his genuine love of music, captivating and energetic stage presence and incredible songwriting talent. He released his new album 'Sugar Beach' last week, and he told XS Noize about its creation in the Caribbean and teased his future plans.

Tell me about Sugar Beach. Where'd the title come from?

The album is named after the place where I wrote the album. It's a beach on the island of St Lucia.

You had quite an unusual experience when it came to writing it and were stranded in the Caribbean. Do you have any regrets over how this album came to be, or do you think the situation you found yourself in was a blessing of sorts and that you might have written an entirely different album had the circumstances been different? 

I think I did what I had to do in the moment. On the one hand, I was very alone in an amazing place which was strange because it was a blessing to be there but a real shame to not be able to share the experience. That's really why I started writing the songs.

We've all been touched and affected by the pandemic in some way, either personally and professionally. What has the last few years taught you/reminded you of or inspired you about that you've channelled into your music?

The circumstances have been really crazy, a major adjustment across the board. Travelling, seeing friends, playing shows, Every aspect of our lives is a privilege, and we all got sent to our room to think about it. At least I documented my experience in the form of an album.

Which track would you say is your favourite on the album and why?

They're all completely different; it's impossible to choose. The last song I write is always my favourite. I think maybe "X-Man" is my favourite if I really had to pick just one, but I'm not sure.

How would you say this album highlights your evolution as an artist and songwriter? 

I feel like I'm getting to that point where my discography is starting to show versatility. My solo stuff is all rooted in an acoustic performance, and that makes the songwriting more bulletproof, but the songs don't fully reveal until the recording process is complete.

While the pandemic is far from over, some semblance of normality has returned, for everyone, including artists. With that in mind, will you be touring in support of 'Sugar Beach'?

I just did a tour for the album a couple of months ago. I played songs from both my albums because my first album came out in 2020 - I'd been waiting to tour for two years. My solo music is very undiscovered still, and the only fans that came were the ones that follow me very closely on social media. I'm actually really enjoying it this way. The shows were really special, and in Manchester, the audience were singing the words so loudly the show felt a lot bigger than it actually was.

You've been very much a staple of the music industry, either as a songwriter or performer, for roughly two decades now and have outlasted many of your fellow artistic counterparts. How have you managed to keep yourself engaged and 'relevant' in an industry that is forever changing, evolving, and so often seeing so many bands and artists fall by the wayside?

I think the resurgence my career had with McBusted and again with Busted from 2013 - 2019 was an incredible run. Very few people have another chance like that, but I also believe it happened because my intentions as a singer-songwriter are very real and genuine. I always prefer to find excitement in the next chapter than dwell on the one that just ended. And so, for these reasons, I'm never struggling to be a music artist; I just always am.

What advice would you give to any newcomers looking to make their mark on the music world?

You can't prepare people for the music industry. Either you sink or swim, and if you get dragged under, how long can you hold your breath?

With this album out in the world, what's next for you? Have you perhaps started or continued writing for your next collection, or are you more sitting back and waiting to see the reaction to this one? Being now halfway through 2022, what's left for you to achieve and tick off your bucket list in the coming six months?

I'm writing a new album which is coming together very well! I'd like to record it this year.


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