Exclusive Special Interview: James Varnish


theaussieword.com meets with James Varnish for a special blog interview.

Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music?
I was first interested in music as a little dot. I found a tape recently of me singing as a toddler in full voice, unashamedly belting out nursery rhymes. I guess it started from there. I was always sick as a little kid and while everyone else in the neighbourhood was outside playing with other kids, I was inside listening to music and developing my huge love of pop records. My father was always happy around music and totally lost himself in it if we went to parties or functions and I saw how elated it made him feel. I too have this relationship with music where it’s like a power supply connecting to every cell within me.


What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
Honestly, I just get this innate urge within me to write, perform and express my heart and my experiences through music and lyrics. I feel kinda itchy and agitated when there’s something I need to get out. It’s usually because of human interactions, when someone has effected me profoundly. I’m inspired to put my spin on things with as much honesty as possible and not edit the expression of it, yet do it in a way that people understand and relate to. It’s cathartic for me too to make great music and be creative.

What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
My biggest goal is to make as many people as possible feel something, to entertain them, inspire them and give them an authentic experience. I hope that people will listen to my music and feel that they are not alone because I am singing about something they relate to or about feelings that they too have had … OR … that I am singing about something that they have never experienced or thought about and maybe, I can open their minds and hearts to thinking in a different way or to something new.

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
I’m on a mission to make people aware of me and my music. I think that’s gonna keep me very busy! Touring? Not quite yet, but it’s looking like there’s gonna be some surprise performances coming up which I’m really excited about!!!!! I’ll share the details with everyone when I can make them available.

Tell us a bit about your latest album and how would you best describe your music?
My new EP is called ‘V’. It’s got 5 tracks on it and was produced by Stephen Hague who’s produced other artists like New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Robbie Williams and Blur. We wanted to create something that’s me. It’s a bit sexy, a bit upfront, it comes from my heart and whilst it references a few of my influences, the way I put it all together is not like any other stuff. I’m really proud of it. To categorise my music, I would say it’s electro-pop. Some of my tracks are nu-electroclash with industrial references and breakbeats, there’s atmospheric 80‘s inspired tracks, I’ve even got an electro-ballad on this EP which shows one of the many sides of me. I like each song to have an identity of it’s own whilst still fitting into my style. I’ve created my own sound really, the music is synthesiser based but I put a warm sincere vocal over the top.

Success, what is the secret to it?
Success means different things to different people but for whatever that means to you, it takes dedication, devotion, passion and hard work. You gotta have an unwavering belief in yourself and be resilient. You gotta be motivated from within and do it for no other reason. If you are doing something to impress or prove yourself to someone or to fill a void in your life then you are setting yourself up to fail. The only reason you should do something is because it makes you happy and you are passionate about it and to share that with other people. That is what I believe is the secret to success.

What has been your biggest career highlight?
Working with Stephen Hague, hands down. His work has been so influential to me and it was an honour to record my music with a pop legend that has such a great ear and who understands how to present a song in the strongest way. I can’t speak highly enough of him. It is a very intimate thing to record with someone, to dissect a song and the emotions behind it and create a performance that is uninhibited. I trusted Stephen and we not only connected musically, we connected on a personal level. Hail the Maestro Hague!

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
Stars that are fearless. Stars that don’t try and sound like someone else. Stars that stand up for their convictions. Stars that remain grounded and don’t think their shit is sweeter than anyone else’s. Stars that respect other stars and don’t try to bring them down because they feel threatened by them. Musicians I find inspiring are Gaga, Prince, Pet Shop Boys and Kate Bush to name a few.

Any new projects in the pipeline?
I’m always writing new songs. I think there’s gonna be a few surprises on my next record!

The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I’d love to say ‘performing at Wembley stadium!’. There you go, I said it. That’d be pretty awesome. 

Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
The Presets, Cut Copy and industrial electronic synth-pop pioneers Severed Heads.

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I feel positive about the industry because music will survive no matter what. It connects us to each other. There are good things and bad things about the changes over the years. You gotta work with it the way it is or instigate further changes if you can. The fact that people aren’t as prepared to invest in music nowadays is a negative thing. The respect for the amount of work and money that goes into recording and the presentation of it has been lost a bit … but … there is an ability to get your music into more people’s lives because of streaming and stuff like that which is very positive. Social media is great for music. It’s the best way to get intimate with fans and to reach them on a personal level. Stars in the past were quite removed from their audience, almost like they were in a bubble. Social media gives everyone the chance to be more interactive. It means everything to me to get my records to as many people as possible.

Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today? Love. Love yourself, love life and love what you do … and love my music! 🙂

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