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Photos courtesy of Cal McIntyre
Meet Piers James, the London based artist telling his story through his music, drawing inspiration from his Bajan roots and cultural identity.
Paving the way in widening the representation of alternative black music and culture into the mainstream, his last release, ‘A Dying Breed, Pt. I’, saw praise left, right, and centre from the likes of BBC 1XTRA, BBC Introducing, and COLORS.
His brilliant new EP ‘A Dying Breed Part II’ is coming out on the 18th of June! Featuring singles ‘Best Out Here’ and ‘Mass Appeal’, this new project solidifies Piers’ standing as one of the most exciting UK rappers.
We managed to get ahold of the versatile artist ahead of his new release:
How did your musical journey start?
I started off writing and producing around the same time, and just continued to hone my craft until I got to a point where I generally believed that I could be one of the best artists in the UK and the world.
Where do you find your inspiration?
In everything I do, family, culture, friends music, old classics I grew up on, and in depth conversations about life.
How do you explore your cultural identity through music?
Since a young age I’ve always been immersed around music - my mum used to play reggae around house, as I got older I started listening to a lot of grime, Hip Hop and R&B, Indie. So whenever I’m making new tunes subconsciously my identity comes across because I know my roots. Past, present and future.
How did lockdown affect your music?
I definitely slowed down in the amount that I was writing and creating simply because I didn’t have an outlet to grow and experience new things to write about. There’s only so many times you can keep inspiring/ motivating yourself to write when you’re stuck inside for months. However with that being said it did make me think more introspectively about some of the things that I was writing and one of the songs off the new EP (Dreams Of A Dreamer) was actually created from lockdown.
Tell us more about A Dying Breed Part II and the process behind creating this EP.
I made Dying Breed Pt I and Pt II a few years ago and wanted to drop it as one cohesive project but the way people consume music nowadays is different from the old, so I thought it would be best to split it into two parts so that people can really take in, consume the music and follow the journey over time.
In the past you’ve used your platform to fundraise for a good cause, is using your music for the greater good important to you? If so, why?
I feel in someway artists are role models to the fans that look up to them, artists are somebody who they can look up to with a voice and in some respect icons for the younger generation. Growing up I didn’t have a lot of opportunities within music but I worked hard to get to where I am now. So if I’m able give back via my platform for a good cause by inspiring a new musician or make an artist wanna get up and say I can do that too then why not?
For you, how do music and fashion intersect?
Music and fashion go hand-in-hand. When I think of hip-hop I think the old school averex jackets, killer cam in that iconic pink fur, Missy Elliot and all her get ups or Pharrell with Billionaire Boy Club/ Bape Ice creams - I think fashion is an extension of an artists make up and identity.
How involved are you in the design of your merch?
Myself, my friend Sean Chimbani and Maya Dufeu all collaboratively worked on the merch designs from start to finish. I would like to think of myself as someone who likes to be involved in all areas of the creative process whether that be videos, clothes or music.
What has been your favourite performance so far and why?
The show I had supporting Ed Sheeran in our hometown was very special to me as it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever performed in front of, also being in front of a home crowd was inspiring to say the least.
Which artists have you been listening to lately? Anything your audience might not expect you being a fan of?
I’ve been listened to a lot of new music recently. Artists like Greentea Peng, Enny, Children Of Zeus but in terms of people you may not expect of been loving Nathy Peluso, Remi Wolf and Jawny have been some artist I’ve recently come across.
Who is your dream collaboration?
Theres so many artists I would love to collab with in the future but I would have to say a song with the Neptunes would still be a dream milestone for me. Growing up watching Pharrell and Chad in the studio and how they created their sounds inspired me and really made me want to become a producer and an artist in my own Lane.
What do you hope your audience takes away from your music?
Just to really take in the music & what I’m saying on a conscious level, I hope the audience can grow with me on my own musical journey. I think music is so personal to the listener so I hope it helps people who listen to my music enjoy life more, have fun, help them through difficult periods and be a part of their soundtrack for life.
What is the ultimate musical goal?
Ultimate musical goal is to be content, being able to support my family doing what I love, whilst exploring the world, doing shows all over and experiencing what this world has to offer to the fullest.
There you have it guys, a little Piers James. Mark the date, June 18th, ‘A Dying Breed Part II’.