Get To Know: Piers James
Updated: Sep 4
New Wave is back with another instalment of our “Get To Know:” series, and today we introduce you to Piers James.
The Ipswich-born, London-based multi-disciplinary musician, who curates a genre-morphing sound that he describes as a “nostalgic, golden age hip-hop but with a new wave energy.” Which can be heard especially on his recently released EP, entitled “A Dying Breed Pt.1.” A coming-of-age project that houses 6 sensational tracks that explore romance, fatherhood and the black British-male experience.
This artist has been elevated by the likes of; BBC Introducing and was handpicked to support Ed Sheeran on tour last year, to which saw him grace an audience of 45,000 people in his hometown (for one the biggest tours in history, might I add.) In addition to being featured in and performing for Adidas’ Predator football boot advert.
Stretching back to Piers earliest musical memories, the musician shares: “My family is quite music orientated in general. My uncle and my oldest cousin were DJ’s, a couple of my cousins are singers and actors. And, my mum and auntie always used to have days where they would blast; Reggae tunes, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Tina Turner and whatever music would get us up and make us dance.”
As a child who was subjected to a diverse spectrum of sounds, it is only natural that the older Piers got the more he caught onto the contemporary sonics coming out of London as well as his hometown of Ipswich. Around the time Pirate radio sets and sidewinder tapes were on the rise. Alongside the Ipswich-bred grime crew called Hectic Squad who put the Suffolk on the map. Citing this period of musical discovery as the catalyst of his own sonic exploration; the rapper and producer continued to broaden his horizon: “I began becoming more inspired by the melodies and more conscious side of hip-hop, which lead me to likes of Pharrell, Andre 3000, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye, Wu Tang Klan, Kano, the Mitchell Brothers and a lot of other alternative music that was coming through at the time.”
When asked about how these musicians shaped his current sound, Piers explains: “When I think back to the artists I grew up listening to...those were true artists; singers; creators; and performers who were able to express themselves through their art in the highest degree. So after watching their trajectory and the magic they created. I realised I needed to emanate the same level of artistry as they did, while giving the new generation the same feeling that inspired me to create.”
Well, I think it would be fair to say that Piers has delivered all that and more on his latest project. It’s important to note that five out six songs on “A Dying Breed Pt.1” were completely self-produced along with the help of some talented local musicians. As a jack of all trades - rapping, singing, producing and mastering - self sufficiency is something that comes natural to the him. However, these skills came from a place of necessity. Explaining further, “Piers states: I didn’t just come from a place of wanting to do it all by myself as I love collaborating with producers, musicians and other artists. But unfortunately at the time, where I lived I couldn’t just hop on a pirate radio show or holla at people for beat.”
He adds, “Truthfully, I used to think of it as at a disadvantage but as I matured I’ve come realise that having all these skills at my disposal is a blessing. I can produce anything I want and for others as well.”
Diving deeper into the project of the moment, “A Dying Breed Pt.1” - a noteworthy display of originality delivered through thought-provoking lyrics, nuanced melody and an ear for enticing instrumentals. Which resulted in a seamless transition from track-to-track which melds a mixture of hip-hop; jazz; R&B; trap; and reggae influences alongside one another with his distinctive U.K edge. The inspiration behind the EP, is that of “an ode to anyone who is truly pushing their craft, to never lose your individuality and to never give up on something that you believe in.”
A reoccurring message conveyed throughout Piers’ music and an important part of his identity and past experiences surround racism. As well as the overall British black experience (especially those who come from predominately white areas). This is important to for him to detail over his catalogue: “Because I know that there is a lot of young black males and females that aren’t around multicultural areas within the UK, and like them, those experiences made me who I am today regardless of whether they were positive or negative. I’m not going to shy away from sharing my story, especially when it could help someone who may be dealing with institutionalised racism currently or perhaps at the very least inspire them speak their truth while helping others in the process. Knowledge is power.”
Drawing the interview to an end we left, the man of many talents with this last question - What’s next for you?
To that he answered: “To be honest I’ve been pretty busy with releases through lockdown so I’m enjoying a little break but I’m excited to get back out on stage and performing in front of people, personally there’s no greater feeling than seeing people enjoying themselves and and taking in the music. But yes, of course, lots more releases to come. I’ve got a lot stored away in the vault so I’m excited to share them with the world.”
To stream Piers’ EP A Dying Breed Pt.1 click HERE.