Peggy James uses a timeless simplicity to draw you into her genre defying soundscape. Her new album Paint Still Wet swings from style to style to deliver a mix of heartbreak, meaningful sighs and balladic poetry. We sat down with Peggy James to talk about the new album, paint colours, her creative process, music and much more!
OSR: Was there a moment or experience that made you think: ‘This is what I want to do?
James: Yes there was. The first time I walked into a studio to record a song I was hooked. It is seriously one of my favourite things to do. I couldn’t wait to record again. To this day the urge to record fuels my desire to write songs.
OSR: Is there a backstory for your new album Paint Still Wet?
James: There is a backstory to each song but as a compilation, it’s a mix of travelling to new places, my own experiences and those of other people and personal relationships.
OSR: Your sound defies attempts to categorize it. With this in mind, how does your new album compare to your previous releases?
James: My first two albums fit more easily into the country genre but as I felt more confident as a singer-songwriter, I have allowed myself to explore and follow my own creative flow rather than adhering to any one style of music. Paint Still Wet is a prime example of that and I’m very happy with where that flow led me.
OSR: What was your creative process for Paint Still Wet?
James: I’m very much a solo writer and need a solitary environment for my creative juices to flow. Once I find that space, I write from the heart and develop the song till it conveys what I’m feeling and I’m satisfied that it’s a keeper. Then when I’m ready, I take to my producer, Jim Eannelli, and bounce it off of him. Then we work on more details of the arrangement of the song for recording.
OSR: Did you find that certain tracks were easier or harder to create than others?
James: I took the same care and concern in the creation of each song although some of the songs did require more work than others to make them come alive and feature the storyline which is always very important to me.
OSR: The album was produced by Jim Eannelli, how did you connect?
James: At the time I met Jim, there was quite a tight-knit music scene in Milwaukee. So we shared a large circle of friends who hung out together, went to each other’s gigs and sometimes even participated in each others recording projects. Jim and I first worked together in a trio performing live around town. At the time I was working with another producer who I did my first two albums with. Eventually, I was invited to record a few songs at Jim’s studio and here we are three albums later.
OSR: If the album were a paint colour, what would it be and why?
James: Does an artist paint with one colour? I enjoy a multi-coloured palette. The art work for the album expresses that.
OSR: If people could only remember one thing about this album, what would you like that to be?
James: I would hope that they remember a good feeling when they hear it but that they would also draw a deeper meaning to their own lives.
OSR: What is the best venue you have ever performed in and why?
James: I would have to say La Zona Rosa Club in Austin Texas. It was part of the South by Southwest Music Festival which featured artists from all over the country. It was a nice venue and a huge club and the people were very friendly and receptive. It’s a three-day event so I had a great time hanging out with friends and going to see other artists performing their original music.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
James: I will be writing and recording new material and working on finding ways to keep healthy mentally and physically during this lockdown. Hopefully, in the near future, you will be listening to another new album fresh off the press. Thank you for your interest in my music and best wishes for the coming new year.