Interviews

Interview with James Preston

Q: UPCOMNG ALBUM OR SINGLE LAUNCHES:

A: I’m currently working with a new music producer, John Hamilton to reinvent Ariyah’s new sound (coming soon) and delve into her darker or can I say more “serious” work.
I am not an artist who produces albums. I make singles and there is a very important reason behind that. As an artist & writer who writes and finances all my work from scratch to finish, and someone who likes to combine the musical arts with visual arts, I like to produce a new music video / short film for every piece of musical work I produce. So having singles gives me the ability to produce each single with its visual. With an album released, it takes the surprise element out of the next video since the songs are all already out.

We recently released the new single “Don’t Come Back” with its short film and now music video as well. It’s been approximately 1 month and we’ve started production on the new music video which should be released towards the end of November.

Q: MUSIC BACKGROUND:

A: My mother tells the story of me singing when I was only 4 years old, and singing quite well. At the age of 8 my parents enrolled me in a music school in Sydney for piano classes. I was a very naughty student. The first 2 years I would never score less than A+ on my tests but as soon as I became comfortably familiar with playing, I spent all my time “composing” my own music at 10 and would get into a lot of trouble for not learning the exam pieces. It did not deter me from my course. And I have been composing ever since. Obviously I’ve only slightly improved from back then LOL

I also wrote a lot and I mean obsessively. I wrote a lot of poetry from a very young age then with time the poetry turned into lyrics alongside of my music compositions and here I am today making songs and videos.

 

With regards to screenwriting and video production, directing, editing or even vocals, I’ve never studied any of the above. My father didn’t believe that “music was more than a hobby”. I’m sure he feels very differently today.
In my first video, “Your Memory” I started with a concept for the music video. “The Club”, concept and screenplay. “Our Home”, concept, screenplay, production, casting, project management and co editing the music video. “Don’t Come Back”, concept, screenplay, casting, project management, directing and co editing the short film and music video. How did I do it one may ask, without prior schooling? It’s called having no other choice. You’ll be surprised what having no one but you to depend on can do for you, then combine that with passion and drive, very little on this earth can stop you and even when life smacks you down to the depth of hell, you won’t stay there too long, because like a friggin hero you will get back up and do it all over again. Life is the best teacher of all. It’s a free school.

Q: CRAZY MUSIC STORIES – HAS SOMETHING CRAZY HAPPENED AT A GIG, INTERESTING RECORDING SESSIONS, MOMENTS OF ENLIGHTENMENT DURING SONG WRITING ETC:

A: A lot of my song writing comes from moments of enlightenment I call my light bulb moments. I’m a pretty lazy writer. If a song doesn’t get written in 15 minutes, which means it was purely a moment of inspiration, I abandon ship. I get distracted and go on to doing something else and the song never gets completed after that. Our Home for example, I had this ringing in my ear that was really itching me at 3am; this annoying melody that was nagging and wouldn’t let me sleep. I would twist and turn in bed until I gave up so I got up, went to the piano, wrote the entire song in about 15 minutes and put it out of its misery, or mine. It was influenced by.. well, I don’t need to tell you; the worldwide events of war, hatred, terrorism, bigotry.. I have songs about rape, child abuse, bullying, suicide and the list goes on. Every story is a potential song. It doesn’t have to be my own story. Everything around us is art. All you need to do is listen, then put the art on a canvas.

 

A really funny story in relation to Our Home, was when we wanted to shoot the scene of Ariyah “funeral” scene. Initially this scene was being shot at night and in the same abandoned village we shot the rest of the video. We were told so many stories about the village being haunted and as we were shooting, we really started seeing and hearing things and none of us could focus on anything anymore but our own fear. At one point, we saw these 3 shadows walking towards us from a distance. You have to understand this village has no light and is completely torn down and abandoned. We all froze paralyzed by fear. Looking at each other wondering if we were all seeing what we were all seeing. Palms sweaty, mouth dry, I can even feel my eyes build up some tears.

Turns out the police wanted to check in on us. We packed up and ran as soon as they were leaving. We reshot that whole scene on another date, time and location and never returned to that village again. So many funny things happen on shoots. The Interrogation Officer actor almost suffocated the Civilian Freedom Fighter actress in the torture scene.. maybe that’s not so funny..

Q: NOW – WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY DOING, BOTH WITH AND AWAY FROM MUSIC:

A: I am currently only doing music. I am shooting my new music video which is going to be a completely different color to Ariyah. You’ve seen both crazy and confused in Don’t Come Back, heartbroken in Your Memory, angry human rights activist in Our Home, sexy sarcasm in The Club and now you will see comedy. I absolutely love challenging myself to do different and bigger and better. Doesn’t always mean I will be great, but I’m a student of life and cheers to trying I suppose. We are now producing 3 back to back songs and music videos. A lot of work is going on in the background and again, since I write all the songs and screenplays and I manage all the projects from start to finish, it’s like doing 50 different jobs and having 50 different thinking hats on. I’m really looking forward to the next video. It’s going to be fun. Challenging, but fun.

Q: WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS?

A: Still making music hopefully, but hopefully with a bigger and stronger team where I don’t always have to do everything and finance everything on my own. I hope to get enough support that I won’t need to add a day job on top of what I’m already doing as I did in my previous life. I would work a 12 hour/ day massive corporate job and get back home to writing and composing and band rehearsals and gigs and screenplays, music video productions and shoots. I burnt out and went through a 2 year writer’s block. Luckily for me I have a massive amount of material that can keep me going for years creating, but for someone who writes daily, a writer’s block is very confusing. You think you’ve consumed all your talent and it bites you really hard.

Q: ANY OTHER INTERESTING STORIES OR INFORMATION

A: So many interesting stories happen on video shoots. When we were shooting “Don’t Come Back, day 1 started at 8am and went all the way until 9pm one straight shift. From 8am until 1pm we were doing hair, make up and costumes alone and I was running around rehearsing with everyone. By the time we hit 1pm and needed to go to the location to start shooting, I was the only one not dressed and without make up or hair done! I was too busy making sure everyone else was perfect I forgot myself!
Then when 30 oddly dressed ppl walked out of the rehearsal space to get on the transport bus, everyone on the street just stopped  what they were doing and couldn’t believe what was coming done the stairs of the building. It was really funny to see the look on every ones faces like a scene from a comedy film. Finally we got to location and the real work begun and I mean if you thought costumes, make up and hair and rehearsals were work? The hardest part which I don’t think I will do again is direct and act on the same project. It was really hard to manage everyone, the shot list, directing the actors and then get back into character every 10 minutes. And when I say hard I mean my mind was not keeping up anymore. Of course you have to maintain your composure and make sure everyone knows that everything is running smoothly because the moment you lose it, it all turns to chaos. And we did it. I had an incredible team of actors and crew and I couldn’t have been happier with such an achievement for an indie artist.

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