Until recently, James Cramer has been as much a part of what you might call the ‘hidden’ music industry as a star in his own right. Part of the quirky and dynamic ‘Tupelo’, he’s also spent much of his musical life behind the scenes, crafting songs for others.
The multi-intstrumentalist who’s worked with Hermitage Green and Eleanor McEvoy plays every instrument on his own work, which has seen him feature on Canadian TV series ‘Hello Goodbye’, and will shortly see him feature on the BBC adaption of Sally Rooney’s debut novel ‘Normal People’.
Latest single ‘Simple Man’ is, he feels, the closest to his ‘true sound’ he’s ever got. I caught up with James, virtually, just ahead of its release…
I understand you have a substantial background working with others as well as your own work. What are you most proud of to date?
I’m proud of being able to make it a career. When I started out I was advised by lots of people to not write my own songs – to write other people’s instead. I’ve managed to see a lot of the world because of my own songs so that’s something I’m very proud of.
Do you approach writing differently when you’re writing for yourself, or with Tupelo, or for somewhere else entirely?
I write constantly so I have lots of songs in different genres; if a project comes up I usually have some in the locker. If I write with someone else I might buzz off their vibe and usually new ideas come to the surface quickly that way.
Sometimes, an artist might want to cover one of my compositions or do a co-write. That’s great too because the artist might be totally different to me so it brings different elements into the song – they will be the one performing it and recording it so it needs to suit them artistically. At the end of the day, they’re all songs. If you sing it in a different key, or play it using a different instrument, it’ll sound totally different but in its essence, it’s the same thing.
I’ve learned over time what will work for certain projects. My manager, Ian, always reminds me to not get frustrated – to just keep writing. The songs will be used in the future, they just they might not suit right now. He’s been right!