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Music Interview

James Morrison interview: 'I'm s**ting myself over new album'

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James Morrison
The past five years has seen James Morrison become one of the most widely recognised singer-songwriters in the UK. Having sold 1.7 million albums on these shores alone, the Brit Award-winner is now gearing up to do it all over again with his third studio effort, The Awakening.

Digital Spy caught up with the raspy-toned crooner to quiz him on his new material, collaborating with Jessie J and how he really feels about The X Factor.

Why did you decide to release 'I Won't Let You Go' as the lead single for your new album?
"It's different enough to let people in on what the new album will sound like, but it's not so different that if they've bought the last two albums they're still going to get the song. The next two singles are going to be a little different from 'I Won't Let You Go' and the last couple of albums."

So The Awakening is very different from your previous work?
"It's a good mix of soul music. I was listening to some stuff from the '60s and '70s like Carole King, Cat Stevens and Van Morrison - just those simple productions with a good live band in the room. There's also a bit of folk."

It sounds like you enjoyed working on this record...
"I loved working this album. I had a lot more time to write it and I made sure that when I was writing the songs I was happy before was ready to record. I did all the hard work writing the record first instead of not really knowing where it was going. I felt like it was really rushed on the second album - I had some songs that I was really pleased with, but just not enough time."

Has fatherhood influenced the record?
"Yeah, I think just in general your outlook on life changes when you have a child. Before I was just worried about how people would perceive me, how well my album would do and how credible I was. Now I don't worry about that so much and I just do what I do and it seems to be going okay so far. The secret is to just enjoy what you're doing and not let people's opinion of you affect what you write."

Is there a track on the album that fans will be surprised to hear you sing?
"'Slave to the Music' is one where when I finished writing it, I thought it was pretty cool. It's the first song that I've written where I can imagine it getting played in a club. Normally I would never imagine any of my songs getting played in a club! So that was a first for me."

You collaborated with Jessie J on 'Up'; what was that like?
"Pretty intense. I was s**ting myself to be honest! She's sassy and an amazing popstar. She's dedicated to her work and so professional. She doesn't normally record tracks that she hasn't written herself, so I felt pretty privileged that she agreed to do it. I was worried about whether it would sound the way I wanted it to, because our voices are so different, but that's also the same reason why I thought it would be a really good idea."

James Morrison


Are you nervous about releasing this album considering your previous success?
"Yeah, I wish I wasn't, but I'm s**ting myself! I want to see if people will react the same way that I reacted when I finished it. I feel really excited about if because of the sentiment of where it is coming from. I keep saying that if it doesn't sell loads then I'll still be proud of it - and I am - but obviously I'll be gutted if it doesn't do well."

Since your last album club music has taken over the charts; does that worry you?
"Some of the music I really like. It depends on what you want. If you're out at a club and want to dance around you're not going to want to listen to someone talking about being in love with someone! You just want some kind of beat and line like 'feel the love'! A lot of it has done my head in though, to be honest. A lot of it I can't stand as it's just little tinker noises in my ears. I don't mind some of the dubstep stuff that's coming out, as well as some of the guys with great voices and good beats. A lot of it is just crap to me. I have to turn off the radio."

So you were never tempted to play around with an electronic sound?
"I tried a couple of songs that used electronic beats, but I just don't get any feeling from tracks like that. I can listen to a beat as long as there's a voice or a melody I can latch on to - I like the Liam Bailey and Chase and Status track 'Blind Faith'."

Matt Cardle has emerged as the first singer-songwriter X Factor winner - what advice would you give him?
"The main problem with a lot of artists is that if they don't know what they want to be or who they are then it's difficult to hold on to the core element that makes you, you. People from The X Factor get asked to sing so many different types of music that they end up not really knowing who they are. They end up letting Simon Cowell, or whoever, dictate what they sing. I would advise them to suss out what their core element is and if everything else changes that aspect of you remains the same."

What do you make of the new X Factor panel?
"I think it's really good that they've got people that are really talented and are working in the industry now. Gary Barlow and Tulisa represent different types of music which people are involved with. It's going to really help people on the show, rather than giving some guy who put a boyband together what he wants. It's good there are people on the panel who have been through it."

The Voice is coming to the BBC - is that a show you may have auditioned for?
"If I wasn't signed already and I had some stuff together I would want to go on The Voice much more than I'd want to go on The X Factor. It's all about the voice and not what you look like, which was one of my worries at the beginning - that I wouldn't get signed because I don't look like what a conventional singer-songwriter popstar would look like. I am a singer-songwriter conventionally, but I had to be a popstar at the beginning, whereas The Voice allows you to be just a singer which is more important."

Do you think you could ever play a mentor role on one of these shows?
"I like the idea of mentoring someone and helping them out, but I wouldn't like to be a judge. It's not the sort of thing I would do as I don't like being under the spotlight too much. Telling people what they can and can't sing is not for me really. One day I would like to develop some artists if I notice a good voice and can write them a song and help them be who they want to be."

James Morrison's new single 'I Won't Let You Go' is available to download now, while his new album The Awakening will be released on September 26.

Watch the music video for 'I Won't Let You Go' below:

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