XS Noize is very pleased to introduce the talent that is James Pippin. XS Noize discovered James Pippin after hearing his amazing track ‘Believe Me’ and had to hear more. A native of Florida, James fell in love with making music at a very young age and quickly became fascinated with playing the guitar. He soon realized that playing wasn’t enough and began writing his own songs. Eventually, James made the switch from just wanting to be a musician to starting to take steps to be one.
James began performing in Celebration, Florida by sitting on Front Street and playing songs he’d written, and some covers of older-than-him rock music; such as the Beatles and Nirvana. He made the town his stage and took up permanent residence with his guitar by the lake every afternoon but it wasn’t long before the local government told James he couldn’t play there anymore. A petition launched to let James continue to perform and was ultimately signed by hundreds of people. Despite that James, 14 at the time, was removed by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department. However, not all hope for James to play music was lost as James was approached by the independent label; Vineland Records to record an album just before he was forced off of Front Street.
James is now 16 and his second record, Losing Faith EP was released on June 17, 2018. James has begun playing shows to help support the record and is looking forward to bringing his craft to new audiences, displaying some of the most raw talent that Orlando has to offer. In the summer of 2017, James toured up to New Orleans, Louisiana with stops in Alabama, and north Florida. In July of 2018, James played in New York City: headlining a show at The Royal Theater. and recorded a direct-to-vinyl session with Leestavall Records. Today, James is booking more shows and writing new material, always working to expand his audience. Mark Millar caught up with James to find out more.
Hi, James when did you first start playing the guitar?
I started playing the guitar when I was 12. I had begged for one for months, and when I finally got one for my birthday, I sat trying to learn “Mr Jones” by Counting Crows for hours until my fingers couldn’t take it anymore.
What was the songwriting process for the EP?
I wrote this album at a time where I didn’t think I was gonna be greenlit for another album. I wrote this album because I was feeling things, and I wanted to manifest that into something. They weren’t songs for the sake of songs like some of my older work. I went through my first really tough break up (as most teens do) somewhere around last March, and it gave me a lot to write about. I had never really had that kinda emotional pain before that, and it really changed me as a musician. I was now putting a lot more emotion, and meaning into my music which I couldn’t before. I was sitting in my room thinking about how the person who I loved was with someone else, and there were nights I’d just sit there playing the electric guitar with headphones on, trying to put those feelings into words. Those nights were particularly hard as well because no one wants to think about those things, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I usually have an idea or singular lyric in my head, floating around for a little bit, then I try to find a chord progression or riff that kinda has the same vibe, and put them together and see what comes out. The songwriting process for it can be broken into this simply: Sad thoughts + a bit of guitar = a James Pippin song.
What inspires your lyrics?
A lot of different things inspire my lyrics, for example, most of this last album was about this break up that had really hit me hard, and just seeing pictures of her with someone else, it really did tear me apart, but that’s where a lot of those lyrics for the album came from. I’ve also written songs about self-esteem issues and growing up in a poorer family. It just depends on the song really.
Who produced the EP?
My producer Adam Sliger is amazing, he really turned my songs into something I could’ve never dreamed they’d be. He and the engineer David Whitmore at Pioneer Sound are amazing, and they come up with some great ideas.
How long did it take to record?
We spent two weeks in Pioneer Sound studio recording.
Is there a particular song on the new EP that you thought “this is why I’m doing this”?
Yes, I wrote “Changes” and halfway through writing it I just stopped and said to myself “I’m proud of this”. This whole album was a big genre hop for me, so I was really nervous about changing my sound and image until I wrote that song.
What would you like people to take away from listening to the EP?
Sometimes things are out of your control, and there’s not much you can do. Sometimes it’s okay to be sad. Other people can help you, but in the end, only you can help yourself.
What is your all-time favourite album?
Probably “Temper” by Badflower. Josh the lead singer and I had a long talk while I was writing this album, and hearing that it was gonna be okay from this guy who I looked up to really put things into perspective for me.
What have you been listening to recently that you could recommend?
I’ve been listening to this awesome three-piece rock band called “Fencer”. All of their songs get me going. Especially their song “Joseph Courtney”.
What is your ultimate musical aspiration?
I want to be big enough to live off of and tour with my music. Not really have to worry about anything else besides the music. Anything else is just icing on the cake for me.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
I’m going to be shooting a music video, writing, and playing a few more shows. I’m sort of at a turning point in my career where things are either gonna happen, or they won’t. I’m gonna do everything I can to make it work, but if it doesn’t it’s already been a really fun ride, and I won’t stop trying.