Winnipeg-based country singer David James is heading to the City as part of Aaron Pritchett’s ‘Out on the Town’ tour Jan. 29th at Bo’s.
“It’s going to be great. I’ve been a huge fan of Aaron’s for such a long time. An Aaron Pritchett show was also one of my very first concerts, so to kind of come full circle, share a stage with him and to get to go on the road for seven weeks with the guy is pretty special,” he said during a recent chat.
In just a few years, James has marked multiple career milestones including the release of his debut EP Songs About A Girl and two CCMA Award nominations, a debut performance at the Boots and Hearts Music Festival and a Canadian Radio Music Award nomination for ‘Best New Group or Solo Artist: Country’.
“I’m really fortunate to work with a really, really talented team,” he said.
“It’s also always really cool when, as an artist, you create music and people want to bring it into their lives and make it part of their own soundtrack.”
His latest single, the downright infectious Cars, Girls, & The Radio, is the follow-up track to his Top 15 title-track single from his 2017 sophomore EP Downtown Kids, which also spawned his first Top 15 hit with the irrepressible fun of Sun Set On It.
For James, a passion for music in a multitude of genres was sparked early on.
“Like any Canadian boy, I grew up wanting to be a hockey player. Looking back on my childhood years, so many of the memories are of being in the car with my dad on those early mornings on the way to the rink. I remember them so fondly because of the tunes he’d be playing whether is was Roy Orbison, the Mavericks, The Eagles or Pink Floyd.
“I kind of – from a young age without even realizing it – was being immersed into all of this different and incredible music,” he added. “I also remember when I was growing up I wanted to be like my sister who was a singer, a piano player and a performer from a very young age. I remember listening to her practicing downstairs, singing and playing the piano. I’d be up in my room trying to copy her,” he added with a laugh.
Later, in school, he signed up for a singing competition.
“In junior high school, we had our version of American Idol or Canadian Idol, and there were 10 people who auditioned. The top eight made it into the finals, so there were pretty good odds. I was in the bottom two!
“But I was stubborn, and I wasn’t going to let a couple of teachers tell me that I couldn’t sing,” he laughed, adding that the next year he joined an 80s metal cover band. “We played Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Van Halen – all of it.”
Having an eclectic taste continues to seep into what he creates to this day.
“Pretty much anyone these days, on their iTunes or Spotify, have not just pop or not just hip hop, or not just country or R&B. It’s kind of a blend of all of them. I was very fortunate to be exposed to a lot of great music growing up, and that kind of comes through in my songs,” he explained. “But for me, country music has always been a big part of my life alongside of other genres. I’m just a fan of well-crafted songs and that’s what country music is.
“I’m also lucky that country music is blending a lot of genres together right now. It’s becoming so popular, especially among the younger demographic. That’s also fortunate for me, because I like to pull from a whole bunch of different styles. I’m not just classic country, I’m not just pop or R&B. But I like to pull from a lot of that stuff.”
Hard to believe just a couple of years ago he was questioning whether or not to keep pursuing this dream.
“We’d been releasing some songs and we were proud of the work we had been doing, but we weren’t really getting traction at radio. I remember having a management call with my manager, the label, my producer and we were frustrated because it felt like every time we were trying to move forward, we kept moving backwards.
“But we decided to dig in our heels. We believed in what we were doing, and we believed in the songs. I think a lot of people get frustrated when it doesn’t happen overnight. But something I’ve come to learn in this industry is that there is never an overnight success story.
“You think you might be the exception and that you are going to out-work everyone else but it’s the game of patience, of personal growth and development and just constantly trying to be better.”