Coastal roots run deep for Patrick James

We’ve got a soft spot for surfer types here on the Gold Coast. We love our beaches and we love those who appreciate them.

Up and coming melancholic singer/songwriter Patrick James, hailing from Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of NSW, recalls how his love of the beach and surfing shaped his sound and his attitude about making music.

“I remember growing up on the beach, in the surf culture, and listening to Jack Johnson, Pete Murray and Ben Harper. That acoustic, chilled sound was part of my growing up in a surfing and fishing town. My earlier EPs were shaped by a sense of nostalgia about that time, and I remember it fondly.”

That familiarity with the surf will resonate with many locals here in our little city, whose legacy is not too dissimilar from regional towns like Port Macquarie. From age five to 18, Patrick lived in the NSW Coastal town, only shifting to Sydney as adult life and a growing reputation as a talented troubadour started to grab the attention of the industry, and some higher profile mates.

“Tim Hart from Boy & Bear was a mate and I gave him my first EP. He liked it and asked me to tour with his band. So, apart from the role a bit of local radio played, that’s how it all got started. The guys from Boy & Bear helped me build my own fan base and it grew from there,” Patrick said.

Following the Boy & Bear tour, Patrick was asked to produce a cover track for popular TV show Wonderland, which is broadcast in 12 countries to millions of viewers. The Church’s Under the Milky Way launched Patrick to bigger audiences, but he tells me it could well have been different given there were two songs offered as covers, and The Church classic just won the prize in the end.

“Actually, I was asked to do two covers, but they liked Under the Milky Way best. I fell in love with it after playing it a bit. I’d never really played either song before but they’re both classics. Somewhere out there in cyberspace is a secret cover of Australian Crawl’s Reckless, played on piano. I’m not allowed to release it, I don’t think. Who knows, maybe it’ll appear on the back of a future album or something?”

Patrick’s voice on the phone exudes humility, whilst still quietly confident that his music has something to say. He talks about how house gigs got that fan base moving in the early days as well, building a community around his music, and how just lounging around a bit influenced the type of sound he is becoming famous for. After recent announcements of his inking a global publishing deal with Alberts and a distribution deal with Create/Control, and the current tour supporting The Paper Kites, it would be appear the young man is on the cusp of impressing quite a few people around the world.

Although with 11,000 facebook followers and recent tours with Emma Louise and Josh Pyke, considerable punters are already impressed. It’s on the back of this momentum he’s released Outlier this month, a full-length follow-up to EPs All About to Change and Broken Lines. Patrick explains what people can expect from his new album;

“Well, I’m still writing from the same place. I really wanted to make the album in a way that reflected the live performance… like, four people playing in a room together … it’s not completely perfect, which I like, but also has that bigger production sound that you get when you’re not making EPs in a bedroom. I hope my fans can grow with me as I grow.”

The current tour with The Paper Kites is actually the second time ‘round for the partnership. Some time before the The Paper Kites’ popularity reached current heights, and early in Patrick’s musical journey, he toured with them. He talks about this changing the dynamic of the current tour, where they already know each other, and the likelihood of tour collaboration is much higher. They’ve finished checking out a few NZ towns and Perth together, to very positive reviews, and hit the Gold Coast’s Soundlounge at Currumbin RSL together on 30 October. In the new year, the Outlier album launch tour commences.

In the short time Patrick and I have left, we discuss the importance for budding artists of building partnerships with existing musicians and grabbing opportunities where they arise. I ask Patrick whether he has advice for local artists, possibly making their names on the beach amongst mates, busking, and at local surf clubs. The question is phrased as what he’d say to an 18 year old Patrick James, based on what he knows now. He laughs.

“I’d probably say to get off the surfboard. Nah, seriously… I’d say to keep true to what you want to say and how you want to sound. Avoid the noise telling you to be something you’re not. You can get lost in all that advice. Stick to what you’re doing even when it doesn’t seem to fit in with the trend,” he said.

“Be genuine.”

It’s with that advice we wrap up. Patrick has clearly taken his own advice, delivering a genuine and heartfelt snapshot of his own perspective through his new album. Lovers of that melancholic, lyrically rich acoustic sound are sure to be satisfied.

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Patrick James supports The Paper Kites at Soundlounge Currumbin on 30 October. Tickets are $25 + BF online or $30 at the door.

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