“The Portuguese have great musical eclecticism and a great sense of humour”

James Morrison: “The Portuguese have great musical eclecticism and a great sense of humour”

The British musician, known for “You Give Me Something” or “Broken Strings”, now performs in Portugal. NiT interviewed him.

James Morrison introduced himself to the world with a bang in 2006 — when he released his debut single “You Give Me Something”. It was a huge success and immediately catapulted him onto the international pop music circuit. He would end up releasing his first album that year and would later stand out alongside Nelly Furtado on the song “Broken Strings”.

Since then, he has released records, performed all over the world, written for artists such as Demi Lovato and Kelly Clarkson, and now he comes to play in Portugal. This Saturday, May 21, he gives a concert at Feira de Leiria, in the city’s stadium. On the same day, Pedro Abrunhosa and Noble perform. Tickets are at sale for 20€.

His characteristic hoarse voice comes from the fact that he had a bad case of whooping cough, which almost killed him when he was a baby. James Morrison grew up in a home with a lot of music, in the social context of the UK’s poor working class.

It was a community plagued by poverty and alcoholism, where he was ostracized at school for dedicating himself more to the arts and less to sport. He started playing bars in his teens, and was discovered in a pub by his first manager, who secured him his debut record deal. The rest is history.

At 37 years old, James Morrison is a musician with a solid career – but he seems to have never given in to the world of entertainment and celebrities, maintaining a humble and genuine posture, far from ostentation and eccentric habits. Read the NiT interview.

Comes to Portugal, where he has been in the past. Do you have any memory or history related to our country?
Yes, I have many. I’ve played in several festivals, like MEO Sudoeste or Rock in Rio, I’ve played on the same day as Linkin Park. I have many memories. I grew up with friends of my mother’s who were Portuguese, I love rojões, they are incredible. And the Portuguese have a great musical eclecticism, they have a great sense of humour, good food and beers. It’s great, I love being there, where I’ve also been on vacation a few times. The song “Person I Should Have Been”? I wrote in Portugal, at a time when I was having a bad time, my father was not well. And then I was able to interpret it live, a couple of years later, in Portugal. It had a lot of meaning. And I like Portuguese music, fado is amazing — a kind of sad flamenco, with a lot of soul.

What can fans expect from the concert in Leiria?
It’s a concert with rock and a lot of soul, all played and sung live, very well oiled in the transitions between songs. At the same time, I don’t have a script, I talk about different things in the show, about whatever bullshit I feel like. I continue to be very inspired by references from the 60s and 70s, in terms of sound and performance. We’ve played in places with very bad conditions, but our job is always to do our best and make sure people have a good time. And now at this festival in Portugal it’s going to be great, for sure. I haven’t given concerts for a few weeks, it will be nice to come back and celebrate with a few beers.

Do you have any rituals you do before going on stage that you always repeat?
On the last few tours, I’ve been in the shower before going to play — with the water as hot as possible. It’s to be up here, to have energy. And I also drink healthy drinks, lemon or ginger, which help a lot. It’s important because touring is very taxing on your body, on your voice. I listen to a lot of music, reggae or drum n’ bass — the goal is to have the energy and positive spirit to get on stage and be ready.

James is on his way to 20 years of career, as he officially debuted in 2006. Are you thinking of staying relevant, or not?
Yes, of course I do. But I don’t think about sales, radio or awards. I think about playing different things, discovering different things that excite me and allow me to continue not worrying about how to pay the bills. Being relevant is continuing to play what I like and betting on my own path. Opting for authenticity over trends, trying not to worry too much about relevance. Of course I might lose something with this.

What do you feel you still have to conquer?
More than anything else, I don’t think I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve written the music that allows me to last. That is, the music that will stay for years and years. It may still take some time to get there, I still haven’t reached the peak of the musician I can be.

Over the years, he has talked about the difficulties he has been experiencing in dealing with fame. Is it something you learn to deal with?
I’m still learning to deal. Of course I’ve had bad situations with fans, people who took advantage of me, but I always try to respond and sign an autograph or take a picture. I try not to be an unapproachable person, not to have the arrogance that comes with being a famous musician. I don’t want to convey the message “I am somebody”. I’m glad I’m nobody. I’m just a guy who plays songs.

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About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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