Interview mit James Atkin (ex EMF)
James Atkin war mal ein Superstar. Mit EMF hatte er 1990 einen Nummer 1-Hit mit „Unbelievable“. Doch bereits mit dem zweiten Album wurde es ruhiger um die Band. Mehr als 20 Jahre nach diesem Welterfolg veröffentlicht James sein erstes Soloalbum. Wir sprachen mit ihm über sein Album, den Unterschied zum Musikbusiness der 1990er-Jahre und die Live-Umsetzung seiner neuen Songs.
Crazewire: You finished the work on your first solo album. How does it feel?
James Atkin:I feel on top of the world, it’s been a long journey but very enjoyable and fulfilling.
Crazewire: How long did you work on it and what can we expect?
Atkin: It took a year in the making. It was great not being under pressure and working at my own leisurely pace.
Crazewire: Can you tell us something about the working process? There are some musicians who helped you out but in the end it seems like you do a lot on your own, right?
Atkin: OK, the initial song ideas are born in my little home studio; this could be a simple vocal hook or a chord progression on my guitar. I then program up a rough guide track with beats and synths. I sit with this track for a few weeks, playing it over and over in the car whilst driving around the Yorkshire Dales, this process usually leads me to think of vocal melodies and lyrics that compliment the tune. I then take it back into my home studio and re record it and finish the home demo.
I often send my home demos over to New York to be mixed by my very good friend Vladimir Kamorov. He takes them in to a commercial studio, records some extra parts if needed and does his production/mixing magic. There are a few other close friends who have been involved with contributing their musical skills: Justin Welch from Elastica played drums, Max LA Villa added guitar parts, and even Mrs. Atkin my wife has sang BVs and played keyboards on the album. Ian Dench, my partner in crime in EMF has also helped with recording guitars. We try to hook up in his studio as often as possible, sometimes this is hard so we transfer files between ourselves and work in a digital way.
Crazewire: You were a star way back in the 90ies as the singer of EMF (“Unbelievable”). 20 years later you are going to release the new album on your own with the help of a pledge-campaign. Where is the difference between the music industry in the 90ies and today – from your point of view as a hard working musician.
Atkin: I was very lucky with EMF to be releasing records at a time in history when you could actually sell enough to make a living. These days it’s hard for all those up and coming musicians, they have to offer so much more. With Pledge Music the artists get to give a lot more to their fans and get a lot closer. I must admit though, if you had said twenty years a go that I would be doing live Skype sessions or personally hand writing lyric sheets for fans I would have said you were crazy. The idea of the mysterious and aloof pop star has gone I guess.
Crazewire: Do you have to start again from the beginning with your new material or do you still have some contacts in the music industry who can help to promote the album or organize your tour?
Atkin: I have no real contacts in the music business apart from a few friends who do some radio shows in the UK, so it is like starting from scratch again. Not sure if my past helps or is a hindrance? It’s been 20 years since EMF, so it is like starting again which is exciting.
Crazewire: You made a lot of videos to songs you recorded. How important is the visualization of your music? Or is it more like a promotion tool?
Atkin: I love doing the videos for my songs and see it as an extension of the material. A lot of people head over to YouTube to listen to their music these days so it makes sense to have visuals. The visuals will be included with the live shows too.
Crazewire: I read on your facebook page that you will go on tour with a whole live band. How important is the live-realisation for you as a musician?
Atkin: I was very reluctant to go out and play live again initially. I have put a great band together and found a genius drummer and arranger who will take care of all the tech side of things for me. This means I can concentrate on being a front man again.
Crazewire: Last question for the EMF-fans who will probably read this interview. Mark (Schlagzeuger von EMF; Anm. d. Red.) mentioned an EMF-album on a radio show a couple of months ago. Can you tell us something about this album?
Atkin: Yes we wrote a few new songs together as EMF, one day they might see the light of day, not sure when though.
Video: James Atkin – „Let It Go“