CTMS Interview: Gareth James

Interview by : Ezelle Louw (@lupaphotography) 

Photography by : Cecilia Knowles Photography


The first time I saw Gareth James perform it was in the  band “The Undefind”, I was impressed by his incredible stage presence, their original material and yes, the fact that he could do a great cover of “One Step Closer – Linkin Park”. Since then he’s taken  the road less travelled and released his first solo album titeld “Your Song” in December 2012. One of his main passions is Modern Country and he’s trying to establish a bigger following for it in South Africa. 

Gareth James Album Cover

More recently he entered idols, which proved to open various doors for him to follow his dream of performing country music. For this album he worked with big names such as Jesse Jordan, Natasha Meister, Gavin Edwards and Kyknet’s “Die Sanger” winner, Pierre Rossouw.  He tells us a bit more about the man behind “Your Song”.


Where did your musical journey start? 

At Sun City, at the age of 16


What was the first instrument you learned to play? 

Funny you should ask. My first instrument of choice was actually drums. When I started watching my mentor at work as a singer, I made up my mind to sing and play the guitar


Was the transistion from being in a full band to going solo something to get use to or was it rather natural progression? 

The change over was rather scary actually. For most of my music career I’d been in heavy bands and being young and still quite unsure as to where my career was headed, the Hard Rock genre seemed to work for me at the time. The thing that got to me the most was the fact that I’ve always written story songs and as I got older and matured, I started getting frustrated as I could never get my story across the way I would’ve liked to, due to the band being so heavy. So stepping away and out of my comfort zone was super scary, but if I look back now, I wouldn’t change it for the world.


“Your Song” is your debut solo album, which was released a couple of weeks ago. How did the launch go?

It turned out amazing. We sold a decent amount of the albums at the show and it was received with open arms. People have really been welcoming Country Music into their lives and every show we’ve done before to pre launch the album, has been a sell out. I thank God for the amazing people that have been supporting me since day one and the new fans we’re making every day.


What was your main theme behind creating “Your Song”? 

As I mentioned, I love writing story songs. Every song on my album is a story that someone in the world can relate too, in some way, and just as a token of my appreciation, for accepting my stories, the songs were written for YOU. That’s where YOUR SONG came from.


Studio time, some artist hate it, other thrive in the process of refining their work. What is your viewpoint on this? 

Ahhhh man!!! The studio process was absolutely amazing. We worked with an award winning Producer “Jurgen Von Wechmar”. He just knew exactly what I wanted. He has the ability to bring out the best in oneself. He has the same effect on all the musicians that played on this album. I have a little home studio where I write and demo my songs

and I love being there. The pleasure you get after creating a piece of art, that you can be proud of, is worth all the hours spent in a studio.

Gareth James Band by Cecilia Knowles Photography

Gareth James Band by Cecilia Knowles Photography

Who made a huge difference or had a great influence in the creation of “Your Song”? 

That’s a very difficult question, but if I have to say, I’d say 1st and most importantly God, my beautiful wife Luzane James, my manager Michelle Smit, all the musicians in the project, my beautiful baby girl, Gabi James-Lloyd – (*Track 8 on the album is about my daughter).


Sure you get asked this a lot, but the Idol’s experience, is it something you would attempt again? 

Ummmmmm… Idols was an amazing experience and I won’t lie, it opened so many doors for me and aided with the launching of my solo project. However, I wouldn’t do it again.


Which upcoming shows should we keep tabs on? 

15th March 2013… Live and Unplugged at VIVA CAFE. Address: Somerset Square (Green Point) Tickets are R120 (includes a signature Viva meal) or R60 (no meal). To pre book you can email: info@vivacafe.co.za. Shows starts at 19h00pm. This will be the first time that I perform acoustic renditions from my debut album “YOUR SONG”.

20th March 2013… Live at Zula in Long Street. We have the pleasure of joining BlackStoneRadio for their album launch, as well as the awesomeness of Joshua Grierson. Show starts at 21h00 and R40 gets you in


Any plan to tour with “Your song” soon? 

Touring is definitely in the pipe line, but no definite tour info as yet…


You are very passionate about creating a bigger fan base for Country music in South Africa if I’m right? Tell us a bit about this? 

I’m very, very passionate about the genre of Modern Country as a whole. I believe there is already a following for Modern Country in South Africa. I would just love South Africa to get to know me as a Country artist. Most of South Africa love Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton, Hunter Hayes who are Pop/Country artists and the problem (which really bums me out) is that these artists don’t come to SA, so I’d love to be THEIR local artist. Country music is a very honest genre, from a lyrical stand point and it amazes me, that at every single show I’ve done so far, how a song can touch someone’s life. It makes me so happy and that is what I’d love to bring to South African Country lovers. I’m passionate about South Africa and Country, so let’s meet each other half way.


The Gareth James Band, introduce us to your members? 

The band consists of 7 members namely JP Crouch (Drums), Andre Hope (Bass), Donovan Chemaly (Guitars), Berenike Monnery (Female Back Up Vocals), Marco Van Der Merwe (Keys and Male Back Up vocals) and Joe Recrosio (Pedal Steel, Dobro, Nashville Style Guitars)


Another exciting project you have going is “The Gareth James Chronicles”. Give us a bit of background on this mission and what you hope to achieve with it? 

I started the Chronicles series to have some more one on one time with current and new fans. We want them to feel like they are a part of the process. We post videos of us doing acoustic renditions of my songs or just interviewing some of the awesome artists I’ve had the pleasure of co-writing with and just having conversations with fans.


If you had to describe “Your Song” in one word…. 



Gareth James by Cecilia Knowles Photography

Gareth James by Cecilia Knowles Photography

What is the most influential music album you currently own in your collection?

That’s very difficult, because there are so many great artists out there at the moment, but if I have to choose one, then I’d have to say Rascall Flatts from a writing and vocal perspective .


Tell us something we are unaware of? 

A guy walked into a bar – It was a Iron bar 😉 hahahaha anyway, something you don’t know is that I’m the happiest man in the world to be doing what I love every single day. Also my amazing manager having my back and having such a strong pillar of strength in my wife. She always kicks my A@# when I slack. My son and daughter’s smiles are also such a huge push for me to be better at what I do and also, I have the most amazing fans EVER!!!


Which SA artist would you love to do a duet with? 

I actually am super honored to have done a duet on my album with one of South Africa’s top undiscovered singers, “Berenike Monnery”. The song is called “One In A Million Dream” and we also co-wrote it.


What song is currently stuck in your head? 

Josh Kelley – The Best Of Me (From the movie sound track for the movie “Act of Valor”)


Where on the social networks can we follow you? 








What’s next for Gareth James?

We are currently in the negotiating stages for air play on student radio stations in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA and the surrouding areas. I also mentioned earlier that I co-write, but I’ve also been writing songs for other artists and I have recently made a deal with a song writer in Nashville, Tennessee, USA to write songs for my 2nd album.

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