PRESENTED BY LIAM
Sometimes you just have to walk away from something, follow your heart, take a leap in the dark and start afresh. After almost a decade with his enormous yet somehow tender, fragile voice fronting Starsailor, James Walsh has emerged as a singer-songwriter in his own right, with an acoustic guitar and some big, new tunes to travel wherever the road may take him. Towards the end of Starsailor's decade of success, he'd started playing acoustic gigs to promote the band abroad, and started to enjoy the new found "freedom" of playing without a safety net.
"The great thing about the band is it's a comfort thing," he explains. "You know what the set is, you know what's going to happen, and you know they're there to back you up. With the acoustic stuff, there's this whole new sense of freedom. You get stuck in that album-tour-promotion cycle. Now I can have beats on laptops, experiment with synthesizers or strings sections, write or work with all sorts of people in all sorts of different countries or environments. I feel much more like a singer-songwriter now, living it and breathing it."
Just over a year after taking the difficult decision to put the band on extended hold, James has barely looked back. He's toured with Sheryl Crow -- playing to more mainstream but "tremendously appreciative" audiences than he ever did with Starsailor's indie following; written with Suzanne Vega after inviting her to sing with him in New York and recording the Live At The Top Of The World EP with Norway's Tromsø Chamber Orchestra in the closest major settlement to the North Pole. Working with an orchestra and world famous composer Bernt Simen Lund is a long way from Starsailor's Wigan roots -- "very cold" laughs James -- but incredibly exciting. As a result of adventures like that, James admits, "songs have been pouring out of me."
After collaborating with songwriter/producer Sacha Skarbek (Duffy/Adele), James has found an unlikely new career path as a provider of songs for other people. "That was the great thing about working with Sacha," he says. "We really got on, and he'd say 'I've got this girl coming in, do you wanna give us a hand?' Thus, James has ended up in the unexpected position of songwriter for stars like Holland's country-pop sensation Ilse De Lang and Philadelphia's Christina Perri, enjoying the new-found spontaneity of "writing a song in an afternoon and the next thing you know someone's on TV singing it. It's really exciting."
But most importantly, this sense of rejuvenation has fired his own new music. Working with Skarbek, he's been able to bring out the Randy Newman and Rufus Wainwright influences that -- he chuckles -- "the [Starsailor] lads weren't very into", acquiring a new maturity and a new sound, more sophisticated and raw at the same time. Playing with musicians often ten years his junior has resulted in a "mix of styles, quite raw heavy backing but with my voice and melodies over the top."
BalconyTV SYDNEY Crew
Executive Producer Justine Moyle
Audio Engineer Sam Salerno
Audio Engineer Matt Stalgis
Stills Karl Broadie
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