London-based artist James Vickery has captured the the
UK Global R&B scene. From his underdog outlook to his shimmering vocals, there’s simply no stopping him.
The singer-songwriter has overcome obstacle after obstacle to get to the position he’s currently in, starting at birth. James was born with a benign tumor in his left ear (cholesteatoma), which left him completely deaf on that side. However, he’s made an emphasis to focus on what he can control… like “writing beautiful melodies and crafting lyrics that will make you feel something.”
James popped onto the UK R&B/soul spot in 2016 with the Lemon Records-released “Epiphany” – a lowlit electronic jam that began turning heads. Enter his pair of groundbreaking EPs (Complexion, 2017 and Until Morning, 2018), and top music publications (BBC1, FADER, Rolling Stone, and Billboard) started jumping aboard.
Fast-forward to now and South London’s pride and joy is primed to deliver his debut album Somewhere, Out There in the coming months. He’s also giving us a teaser, releasing the first single on the album, aptly named “Somewhere, Out There,” tonight at midnight.
He had this to say about the track:
“There’s never been a better time to release this song… It feels like it has such relevance in the world right now, England is suffering a national lockdown. I wrote this song for the people in the world who are unable to see their loved ones in this dreadful time, in the hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel… ‘Somewhere, Out There’ is a song for anyone who misses their significant other right now.”James Vickery, “Somewhere, Out There”
We had the chance to toss a few questions James’ way. Our main takeaway? It’s not often you come across someone who’s music is just as inspiring as the person behind it. See below for a true day-booster!
Full dialogue below:
Deviate: What’s a typical day for James Vickery?
JV: It’s certainly different to what it was this time last year! I’m lucky to live in my space alone, so the morning will consist of some sort of workout (still trying to shift that Holiday/early lockdown weight haha), then I’ll do some sort of writing/producing from around 12-7, include some admin in there as well. And the evening I’ll cook something- I really enjoy cooking, and probably some Youtube to wind down. I go to sleep really late which is a habit I’m trying to rectify this year.
Deviate: How has quarantine/the lockdown affected your creative process? Much different or business-as-usual?
JV: I think I’d be lying if I said the lockdown hasn’t affected it at all. It’s definitely harder to create being in one space all the time, I got so used to traveling back and forth to LA where my labels are based so being in 1 place for that long is completely alien to me. Exercise and getting out of the house is a great way I’ve found to clear my head and get ready for the day ahead.
Deviate: What aspect of performing live do you miss the most?
JV: I’ve always said a true measure of success is your live show, getting 10 million streams on a song is great, but there’s nothing quite like writing a song in your room and then hearing 100s of people sing it back to you in a crowd. I’m someone who thrives on playing live to people, I always have. It’s probably my strongest asset as a recording artist and not being able to play live has definitely taken it’s toll on me, but I’m patient and completely understanding that this will take time, I guess it gives everyone something to really look forward to one day.
Deviate: You recently posted on IG about your upcoming album and the energy you put into it. What stuck out to me is this: “Everything I’ve ever felt and learned will go into this album, because what I lack in hearing, I have made up for in my emotion of the music”. It’s so beautifully said… can you elaborate on this line?
JV: Thank you. I’ve really struggled to get to this point, not only because of how unforgiving the music industry is, but talking about the disability specifically. There’s so many problems I go thorough as a musician and being half deaf. Things you wouldn’t think about…like not being able to distinguish certain frequencies in music, not being able to listen to anything other than Mono, and mixing music is near enough impossible for me because I can’t pan between the speakers. I haven’t let it hold me back though, if anything it’s taught me to emphasize what I CAN do, like write beautiful melodies and craft lyrics that will make you feel something. That’s something I am in control of ,and I intend to make that a point with this debut album.
Deviate: Talk a little more about your upcoming album. What was the inspiration behind the entire project?
JV: At the risk of sounding narcissistic, the inspiration was myself. It’s a catalogue of my journey up until now and everything that goes with it. Whether it be my relationships (platonic and romantic) or the problems I’ve had to endure like I mentioned above. I really channeled my inner feelings for this project and I’m hoping that everyone will be able to identify with at least something on the record.
Deviate: If you had to pick one track off the album you feel embodies James Vickery to the core what would it be (and why)?
JV: I have this song called Save You, I wrote it about 4 years ago but it never felt quite right to put it out. I think somewhat I was scared it would never get the recognition I thought it deserved – anyone who has heard has said it’s the best song they’ve ever heard from me. It’s in fact a gospel song which is strong with my roots as a singer and it’s a bit of an anomaly with the rest of the album, but when people hear it – I think you’ll understand why it made the cut.
Deviate: What else can we expect from James in the coming year?
JV: Honestly, I’m not sure if this year is gonna be better or worse than 2020, but I can promise everyone that you’ll be hearing PLENTY of music from me, and if that manages to help anyone at all then it will be a successful year in my eyes.
I can guarantee it will help me…
A BIG thank you to JV for taking the time out of his schedule. Truly an honor to speak with. Tune in tonight for his release of “Somewhere, Out There” and be on the lookout for the entire project!