Like many a budding musician, Graeme James’ first exposure to playing an instrument took the form of violin lessons, starting at the age of seven. (He had asked his parents at age five, but, as he puts it, “…they kind of let that slide…Two years later I still wanted to, so they said let’s give it a go…”)
Unlike most, however, Graeme went on to become a multi-instrumentalist of the highest order. After a career as a classical violinist was nixed due to repetitive motion injuries, while still in university he ended up picking up the guitar and trying his hand at songwriting. After rediscovering his connection to his family’s love of folk music (and the various instruments involved in their “folk band”), acquiring a loop pedal, then circling back to the violin from a different angle, he felt like all the pieces had fallen into place for his musical self-expression.
Graeme’s initial efforts to build a music career saw him “touring” various streets of Wellington (New Zealand’s capital and third largest city) and beyond, as a busker. “It was very organic…Street performance is brilliant for proof of concept. Even then, I was able to get people to stop and engage with what I was doing.”
Growing out of his “apprenticeship on the street,” Graeme’s first two CDs were collections of cover tunes. “When it finally came round to releasing my third album, which was an original album, I was able to hit the ground running…”
For Graeme’s latest record, Seasons, a move to the Netherlands prompted reflections on changes in nature and relationships, and even generated one new entry in the canon of shipwreck songs (“The Voyage of the James Caird,” about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s miraculous small boat voyage). On this release the artist contemplates the cycles of life and the human condition, as measured by nature’s own time clock.
About the album, Graeme says, “I came up with the idea for it pre-Covid, and just kind of sat and wrote a lot of stuff based around seasonal themes…[I was] using the seasons as a metaphor for various aspects of human existence.”
Look for Seasons to be released on April 1 and check out singles now via Graeme’s website.
By Dan Walsh