Can you believe it’s been twenty years since Starsailor debuted with Love Is Here? Maybe not given that the last two years seem simultaneously the longest and shortest ever. But the anniversary has swung past and we’re glorying in a new edition of the album. Here’s our interview with Starsailor frontman James Walsh.
Supajam: How does the excitement around the 20th anniversary of ‘Love Is Here’ make you feel, and how do you think your younger selves would have reacted if they’d known, when making this album, it would live so long?
James: We’re honoured and proud that the album has stood the test of time so well. Its great to hear so many fans reminiscing but also really nice to discover that lots of people have passed their love of the band onto their children too. I was pretty confident when I was young but also massively insecure so I probably would have been partly shocked & surprised but partly wondering what I did wrong that it wasn’t an even bigger deal. Ha ha
Supajam: Did you have a favourite song to write / perform from ‘Love Is Here’, and has that changed for you now?
James: Its always been ‘Good Souls’ for me. ‘Alcoholic’ perhaps goes down better but for me it feels like a song a 20 year old would write where as ‘Good Souls’ is more evergreen and the message still holds strong.
Supajam: What was it like for you back then as a young musician trying to get into the industry and form a band?
James: Both easier and harder in ways. I think its much easier for bands to do well under their own steam now. Build a following, have a good online presence and of course good songs. When we got signed record labels were even more vital than they are now. If you couldn’t get signed it was a struggle because most bands didn’t have the finances to self release and distribute CD’s and Vinyl and streaming hadn’t really taken off yet. But once a label becomes interested it starts the ball rolling plus you can concentrate on the music and let them look after the business side (whether that’s wise in hindsight is debatable looking at all the troubles with various artists and labels now) but at the times it really helped the creative process to be 100% focused on that. Nowadays I feel like artists without that backing can do really well but they can’t afford to take their eye of the ball with social media etc and that can be exhausting.
Supajam: SupaJam has an education division and two colleges where we help disadvantaged and vulnerable young adults get into the music industry – what advice would you give if you were talking to them direct?
James: Tell your story. Lean into creating music to help you through hard times. Its a fantastic tool to express difficult emotions in an abstract and hidden way. Its hard but try not to compete. There a tremendous bravery in just putting your work out there online regardless of how it does. So many incredible artists didn’t get the recognition they deserve which is both extremely sad but proof that talent doesn’t always correlate to sales. Just because something hasn’t set the world alight doesn’t mean its not amazing.
Supajam: How did you pick which tracks to turn into 20th anniversary versions, and what would you say the biggest thing you’d change about Love is Here is if you could go back in time?
James: We tried a few options and decided those tracks lent themselves best to new versions. We’ve always thought ‘Good Souls’ sounded more powerful live so wanted to capture that & because ‘Way To Fall’ is so epic and emotional we wanted to go in the other direction and strip it back and it works really well.
Supajam: As a musician performing now, who are you listening to and can recommend to our readers?
James: I love Anais Mitchell’s new self-titled album. She’s incredibly talented with so many great albums under her belt and the acclaimed musical ‘Hadestown’ not to mention her work with Big Red Machine. Lizzy McAlpine is really good too and Sam Fender deserves all the success he’s having at the moment.
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