Interview – James Stephen

British artist James Stephen recently released a fantastic new song called Stronger With You, featuring a number of different genres on this funky pop song. Check it out at the end of this interview if you haven’t already!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a track titled Stronger With You, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about this song and where can it be purchased?

Stronger With You was written a few years ago now with a good friend of mine and songwriting buddy Bobbie Foster. It’s a short story of empowering love, breaking up the mundane routine we often fall into as surviving humans. It can be purchased through all the usual channels – iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Music, etc. It’s on all of the usual streaming services too!

How has the reception to Stronger With You been?

The reception has been really encouraging! It was always going to be interesting for me as I usually put out very folk-orientated Americana, so releasing a bit of a disco bop was a touch risky, but it’s a fun song that can hold its own! People seem to be loving it!

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

Yeah, definitely. The pandemic set my music plans back a good 18 months. Luckily I managed to release my second EP, ‘Til It Comes Around Again, during 2020, which was great, but I couldn’t do anything, really, during 2021. We’re back in a position now where we can forge ahead, similar to the pre-pandemic times.

Do you have plans to release an EP or album anytime soon?

I do plan to start drip-releasing EP Three later this year. Some final touches are needed in the studio but we are very much focused on the next part of the journey now!

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

Yeah, the third EP will be released single-by-single, such is the way unsigned artists do these days to maximise exposure, interest, followers, etc… I’m looking at a September release to kick start the next batch of singles but nothing is concrete just yet!

You’re based in Stockport. What is the local music scene like?

Stockport’s music scene is definitely on the up now. A lot of investment has been made to make Stockport a bit of a trendy hotspot again now, and the music scene is benefitting no end. As you might expect though, we often flock to Manchester to partake in the scene there.

You seem to have a lot of different genres contained in your music, with pop and funk seeming to be quite a big influence. What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

Great question. First and foremost, I call myself an Americana artist and definitely draw on the true extent of the genre umbrella. Funk has hugely influenced Stronger With You, but it’s a bit of a sore thumb in terms of the rest of my material! Primarily, folk and country play a big part. It took me a long time to settle on the Americana label but it allows me to not suppress my influences! My top three artist influences are John Butler Trio, John Mayer and Paul Simon. However, narrowly missing out on the top three is Bros. Landreth; they have almost exclusively been my listening library recently!

You hosted an NICU Fundraiser gig in March. Do you have any more tour dates lined up?

We did host an NICU Fundraiser in March and it went amazingly well! Other dates I currently have lined up are Monday 11th July at an acoustic showcase at Bask, Stockport, and a super secret amazing unannounced date for a pretty iconic Stockport venue on Thursday 1st September. That’s for your eyes only at the moment though!

Why do you think people should come and see you live, and what can fans expect from one of your shows?

I am blessed to have a brilliant band around me and, at the very least, it is worth turning up just for them; I often joke that I am the most disposable member of my band! As to what fans can expect… well, we keep things pretty down-the-line, but we’ve spent a long time making our sound top tier. I don’t take myself too seriously so I always try to have fun on stage and with the audience. Music is inclusive and that’s exactly what we are!

Any last words for the fans?

Thanks for any and all support you have given and will give. Thanks to York Calling for the support and if you can get to any show of ours, you’d be welcomed warmly! Please take the time to follow me on Instagram (@JamesStephenMusic), check me out on Spotify or Apple Music or whatever you listen to music on and don’t be a stranger if you wanna chat about music!