We had the good fortune of connecting with James Rose and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is a very important factor in what I do on both sides of the coin; the business side and the creative side. I’ve always felt like a risk taker, even as a kid growing up. I think some of it has to do with the fact that I had an immigrant family who was always on the move. I moved around quite a bit and I think that is what has been a driving force in my life. Experiencing constant change and new experiences is what constitutes my existence. I’ve settled down for the most part and spend my time between Los Angeles and New Orleans but the risk is still there. You have to be a risk taker to be in the music business. I have sacrificed a “stable” life with a 9 to 5 day job, a family, a home… All of the things that make us secure. Instead, I live a frugal life and do whatever I have to do that allows me to focus on music. Risk taking is everything for me. What is life without that teetering on the edge feeling? An existence that I would not want anything to do with!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I create music heavily inspired by the Beatles, Kinks, Big Star, and the Zombies. What sets me apart from others is my unique finger picking style and quiet vocal delivery. I really focus on a subconscious state of mind where lyrics don’t necessarily have to make sense and can fit into any kind of jigsaw. I think those are the best songs. They seem to be timeless and suspended in air. I’m currently working on my debut full length release and I could not be more thrilled with how it is turning out. I am only in the demo making phase but will be going into the studio to record on a lovely Trident desk. I’ve gotten to where I am today by just playing all of the time. I define success as just the ability to finish a song. I have no expectations about making it or whatever. That just seems like a distraction from the creation of something tangible that I have created. Nevertheless, I still pursue the dream of making a living completely from music but I think it is more about pulling from various sources. For example, I have a day job in grocery, training to become a piano technician, working on my freelance writing skills, teaching music, and recording. It’s a pretty full plate and one day I will get the balance down where I can cancel out the day job all together. I try to write through a subconscious feeling that everything will be better. A lot of my songs have to do with recovery from depression or addiction, lost love, newfound love, things like that. If anyone can connect and come away from a song with a better feeling than going into it, my job is done.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In Los Angeles I would take a friend to Elysian Park for sure. It is a little oasis in Los Angeles. I honestly would just want to do whatever they would like to do while visiting. I’d take them to the Last Bookstore downtown, Stories in Echo Park, The Bourgeois Pig in Franklin Village.. hmm. Definitely up the Angeles Crest Highway and probably to some skateparks to. In New Orleans we would wander around the French Quarter, Marigny, and Bywater, barhopping in between some of my favorite dives like Mollys on Decatur, Kajuns, Mimi’s (though they have closed due to covid-19). We’d have to go get some authentic New Orleans food in a quaint little courtyard with a little jazz band playing. Obviously this is all pre-covid. Oh Zotz, Fairgrinds, and Hey! Cafe for coffee.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to take this opportunity to give a major shout out to one of my all time favorite places to play, The Circle Bar. The Circle Bar is tucked away in a lovely old, rustic building on the St. Charles Ave roundabout in New Orleans. It has been the backbone of New Orleans independent music and a right of passage for so many bands. It has just been announced that they are closing due to covid-19 and I could not be more upset. Some of my favorite places have been closing, but the circle bar closing is just gut wrenching. At least we have all of the great memories of the good times and amazing shows witnessed there. The endless nights dancing away into the hazy New Orleans dream. So, this shout out is dedicated to the Circle Bar! Your influence and community will always be in my heart.
RHR Photography, Alejandra Ramos (Hondro), Lindsey Perrson, Mickey Esdaile, Zach Quinn