Tomorrow night (Saturday 10th December) is a proud night for Teesside troubadour, James Kruman, it marks the launch of his debut album, Twitch at The Westgarth Social Club. If ever there was an album launch worthy of your support then this is it. An outstanding singer songwriter on the local scene and beyond over the last few years James has released one of the albums of the year in Twitch.
They say to never judge a book by its cover he cover of the album but from its enigmatic scientific diagram drawn on a black surround it is quite clear that Twitch is no ordinary affair. This is a debut full of dark mystery and rare beauty. It demands your full attention. There are shades and layers of meaning here contained within songs that almost entice you in and trap you with deadly venus fly trap barbs. Either the songs devour you whole or you are caught up in their spell. I haven’t put the thing down since it arrived through the post a couple of weeks back.
I was so intrigued that I contacted James to ask him a few questions regarding the album, his music and what we might expect from this weekend’s launch. He is always a compelling performer, with his distinct look, and a voice that harks back to 60s folk and psychedelia and yet is very much of the here and now.
Backed up by the irresistible Broken Broadcast and Hartlepool’s Bob Dylan, Danny Devon this should be an amazing show to end the year.
You can a preview of the album here on James bandcamp account.
So, here are a few questions and some amazingly insightful answers from James.
Q: You go for a very big start with Barrel Bomb – did you want to take us into the deep end straight away?
JK: I identified Barrel Bomb as being the biggest indicator of how my music has evolved over the last few years, and it seemed important to let the audience know this from the start. I think the mood in Barrel bomb encapsulates the overall mood of the album and I too think that this was important to let the audience know.
Q: I hear hints of Dylan, Donovan and maybe Syd Barrett and psychedelia in your work – are you drawn to great and maybe off the wall song writers?
JK: Bob Dylan was probably the catalyst in my need and obsession to first write music. I have always been drawn to the abstract images portrayed by those artists.
Q: There is a dark beauty to the album Twitch – even the cover – do you feel drawn to a darkside?
JK: I have always been drawn more to the macabre, depressive elements of the human existence. I feel I write more fluently about the dark existence that one can feel.
Q: Your songs draw the listener into great ideas, words and stories. Do you enjoy storytelling in your work?
JK: It’s great that I have been asked this again, because I feel like my songs are far too abstract and narratively warped to tell a story. I genuinely love the way that people take a story from them as it breads another dimension in the song that even I did not realise..
Q: You are hard to pigeon hole but I would say that you like to take an oblique, unusual angle on things, maybe from a long way above the ground. Is that fair?
JK: I think that is fair indeed. I have always felt like an outsider, and I wish to stay an outsider! I do indeed prefer to create the more unusual angle on themes. If I think a particular lyric is too straight and literal I try my best to distort it. I guess it’s like throwing a tin of paint over a blue print.
Q: This is a departure at times from your acoustic live persona did you enjoy working with different instruments and production?
JK: I indeed enjoyed the departure from my conventional set up, but more so, this departure was overtly necessary to create the soundscapes and propel the intended moods to the level that fit the content of each song.
Q: What was the process like of writing, recording etc?
JK: I knew it was time to make the album, I had been toying with ideas of sounds and lyrics for a while and these are the bulk of Twitch. The whole album was recorded in my damp spare bedroom. It used to get so cold in there you could see my breath bouncing off the microphone. I hope this can be imagined in many of the songs, its certainly a winter album! I discovered a new approach to writing music for this album in that in some of the songs on Twitch the music came first and they were left baron and without lyrics for a great while. I have never previously considered myself a musician before as I felt my lyrics were the real fundamental of the song, and the music came second.
Q: There are diagrams and gadgetry on the cover and in the songs, are batteries included in this package?
JK: The Diagrams were re-designed from an old book I found in my parents attic. It was called something like ‘The Young Engineer’, and it was presented to my father in the 1950’s for an achievement at school. I was fascinated by the beauty of the line drawings and how archaic the language was.
Q: Please say anything you want about the album and your recorded work in general, I think you should be very proud of such a great piece of work. Tell us a bit about your album launch and what we might expect from you and the other artists?
JK: The ‘Twitch’ album if nothing else is a mirror image of where I am now in my creative life. I am truly excited for the album launch, it has been a work in progress for the last 9 months, and it is the cause of a worsening insomnia that I have developed recently! I feel privileged to have the Broken Broadcast on the same bill. The Broken Broadcast have a sound and atmosphere that I have not heard elsewhere, they are my favourite band in Teesside, after Journey South. Danny Devon is opening the show, and I have become close with Danny over the last couple of years. His raw live energy coupled with his real life poignant folk songs will be the perfect start to the evening.
James Kruman releases his debut Album called Twitch on Saturday (10th December) at Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough.
Ably supporting James are
The Broken Broadcast and Danny Devon
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