Music Eyz Interview With Tyler James
Runner-up in on the BBC talent show The Voice, Mr Tyler James has just finished recording his album and is about to embark on his tour. So as you can imagine, the boy is a little busy at the moment. So we were really grateful when he agreed to spend some time for a chat with us.
Tyler is a real down to earth London bloke who loves music. We cover The Voice, talk about his early years, ask him which mentor he would have chosen if he couldn’t work with Will and who he thinks we should be looking out for.
Music Eyz: Tyler, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, really appreciate it.
Tyler James: Yeah no worries man.
Music Eyz: Now you are probably pretty well known thanks to The Voice, but can you tell our readers all about Tyler if they don’t know you?
Tyler James: <laughs> Well I’m just me. I’m Tyler James a singer/songwriter from East London. I had a deal way back and made an album. I went a bit off the rails for a while, then decided lifes too short. So I went for The Voice and thankfully got on. I got signed with Universal and then 14 weeks later, I have recorded an album.
Music Eyz: OK, so give us an interesting fact that nobody knows.
Tyler James: Well to be honest my life is my music. F#+king cheesy I know, but its true. Whenever I get a spare few hours, I would just be sat at home watching Family Guy
Music Eyz: Man after my own heart, I love that show
Tyler James: Yeah man, its funny as f@#k. I love London as well so if I have a spare few hours you can find me just walking round London
Music Eyz: Your a proper London boy aint you?
Tyler James: Yeah I love this city, seriously just wander round here all the time
Music Eyz: Brilliant, it is a great city. So most people probably know you from The Voice, thats not where you started though. Tell us all about Stargate and your experience with them?
Yeah I was 16 when it all happened. I was with my then PR man, went to their office, it was Brilliant PR. Upstairs was Tim Blacksmith and Danny D f@#king legends. Danny D heard me and I could see him lean over the level.
He asked me to sing for him on the spot. I was crapping myself and thought for a bit he was taking the piss. But you have to grab the opportunities that are there. So I sung for him and 4 days later I flew to Norway. Made three tracks over the weekend
Music Eyz: That’s amazing. Not many 16 year olds get that kind of opportunity.
Tyler James: Yeah to be honest, it was a f@+king whirlwind. All I had done before was go in people’s home studios, often in their sheds. They were big, among the biggest pop/RnB people out there, they may even be bigger now. So we did a video and it was all there.
Music Eyz: Brilliant backstory. Moving on to the inevitable, promise we wont ask any more than one question about The Voice, you must have got asked loads.
Tyler James: <laughs> Nah no problem man.
Music Eyz: The Voice helped catapult you in to the public eye, what do you think of the show?
Tyler James: I can’t say anything but great things. It was an amazing experience, changed my life. Not just my music career but my whole life. I wouldn’t have an album and I wouldn’t be sat here talking to you without the show, I was in a real bad place. The Voice helped breathe life back in to me.
I can’t comment on the show though, as I have never watched it as a show. Not a single episode. I just lived it through recording, completely different to what viewers see.
Music Eyz: OK, so maybe one more question about The Voice.
Tyler James: <laughs> Oh yeah
Music Eyz: If you couldn’t of had Will.I.Am as your mentor, who do you think would have been best for you?
Tyler James: Seriously Will was brilliant for me. He was amazing and a real nice bloke too. Would have definitely wanted Jessie or Danny.
Music Eyz: C’mon gonna push you for one
Tyler James: <laughs> No you can’t do that. OK, I would go for Danny. He is a proper singer/songwriter like me. He really got me and helped champion me. He is a real funny and down to earth bloke. We used to just talk about songs for hours.
Music Eyz: You turned your album around really quickly, tell us about the process you went through?
Tyler James: Well yeah, its crazy. Two days after The Voice, I signed for Island. They gave me 14 weeks to make the album. I was thinking to myself, “how the f@+k am I gonna write and record an album in that time?” After all you can’t rush creativity. One day you could write a banger the next you could be crap. The process was just so intense. I was surviving on probably two and a half hours of sleep or less.
Music Eyz: Jesus, no idea how you could do that.
Tyler James: Yeah I know, its crazy. But in retrospect if may have actually helped. Given that deadline to say you have to do it in this time, focusses you and puts pressure on you to make it happen. It helps with continuity as you are in the same frame of mind when you write. If I wrote it over 3 years, I would have changed and the music would reflect that. I basically had no time to overthink it. I think its better as a result.
So we mastered it two weeks ago and now its all done.
Music Eyz: What can we expect from the album?
Tyler James: I find it really hard to put my music in to words. If I was to put it in to a genre I guess I woudl say its a soul/pop album.
At the end of the day, I can only write about what I know. The album is basically an account of everything that has happened to me over the past five years. Every song started with me sat at a piano. ‘Single Tear’ started with me knocking out a rift on a piano.
Music Eyz: So the album is definitely you, if you were to pinpoint a track that the listeners will get to know the real Tyler James, what would it be? What says most about you?
Tyler James: Well they are all definitely all me. I love ‘Single Tear’ it basically describes the past year of my life. I love ‘Worry About you’ for different reasons. Oh I actually love ‘Don’t Give a Damn’ I listen to it all the time, definitely one that I love. The productions and sonic on that one are just lovely on my ear. I love it, not because its me. I would listen to that over and over again, no matter who recorded it.
Music Eyz: You are on tour soon. Most genuine singers and musicians get the buzz out of gigs, is that the same for you? How do you feel when performing live?
Tyler James: Yeah definitely. Its the best feeling I get. Sounds a bit w@nky but having an audience in front of you is like instant feedback. Its not like a studio, its not much fun singing to yourself. Don’t get me wrong I love being in the studio, but I love singing to people.
Also, I spent ages picking my band, people that could really get my sound across. Often when you see an act live its completely different to the album. My tour, will be like a liver version of my album.
Again real w@nky, but you get to share the experinece with others. Singing on your own definitely aint fun
Music Eyz: Wouldn’t know I can’t sing
Tyler James: But really it aint about the singing, you can either sing or you can’t. Its about the performer. One of my favourite albums is Lauryn Hill‘s ‘Unplugged Album’. She was proper ill that day with a stinking cold and you could hear it. But I didn’t care. You could tell she meant every word she wrote. She put meaning behind every word she sang. It doesn’t have to be perfect, thats not important, it has to be real.
Music Eyz: Yeah and that’s probably why you are different from other acts that have emerged from TV Talent shows. You don’t feel manufactured.
Tyler James: Yeah well to be honest theres loads of singers and artists out there who are manufactured. Good luck to them they are entertaining people, not my thing but its good for some. Thats why I would never call myself a singer. I am definitely a singer songwriter. I think when I write, I don’t need to when I sing.
Music Eyz: Really sorry, its been great but conscious of time. Although I could talk to you all day. So one last one. Is there anybody you are really feeling at the mo, anybody you think our readers should be keeping an eye on?
Tyler James: Yeah loads of good music out there at the moment. One that stands out for me is Jessie Mills. I was doing a Republic gig with Angel, Jessie and me on the bill. Up until that point I hadn’t heard of her. But she made me stop and take notice. She has a real interesting voice making me stop and listen. Not much blows me away but that did.
Music Eyz: Yeah I agree. I was mad in to my Hip Hop but I remember being in a record shop and Lauryn Hill‘s ‘Killing Me Softly’ came on. I had to literally stop what I was doing and listen. It was amazing.
Tyler James: Yeah I remember that. I was obviously in a compeltely different place, but the same for me. I was sat in my science class with my headphones on. I remember my teacher telling me to take my headphones off. I told him no chance. The song was sick and I had to listen. That doesn’t happen too often.
That’s the thing though. Music does things to different people. I love Nas, I think he is a poetic genius, but there are loads of people that don’t feel him. There is no right or wrong.
Music Eyz: Yeah but that’s what makes music great. If there was, then there would be a prescription and we would all get the same. Boring.
Tyler James: Nah definitely you’re right.
Music Eyz: OK, just before we wrap up, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Tyler James: Yeah thanks to you all. My album comes out 29 October, so if you like me, take a listen. Thanks for all your support and helping me get here. Thanks to all my followers on Twitter and thanks to all of you that voted for me on The Voice. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.
Music Eyz: Tyler its been great speaking to you.
Tyler James: Nah man, thanks for having me, its been good chatting.
Tyler’s album is out on 29 October and he is performing live shows in Manchester Academy (18 Nov), Birmingham Glee Club (19 Nov) and Shepherds Bush Empire (21 Nov). Tickets available from Gigs and Tours.