Artist Spotlight: Beau James
North Carolina based, Beau James, blends blues, rock and folk with authentic lyrics creating something magical. Each song tells a story, is packed with grit and will leave you wanting more.
I’ve known Beau for a while and seeing his progress and development with his sound, production and songwriting has been incredible. I was excited to sit down with him and dig into what helped fuel that growth.
Good afternoon, sir. It’s great to be chatting with you. Take a moment to tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into music.
Well, I would have to say it is my Dad’s old guitar that I learned on that was hanging out in the attic, mixed with my Mom’s love of piano and singing. I started writing songs back in middle school, which were mainly about girls I wanted to date or girls that I dated. Music has been a hobby that has always tried to take over my life ever since.
Since we met in Los Angeles about 8 years ago, you’ve grown incredible amounts in every facet of the music industry. Besides the obvious answer of “experience,” what has been the main factors that have fueled the development of your craft?
I think it is the answer to the age old question, “What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money?” and the pursuit of the answer. I have learned over the years it can’t just be, “I just want to make music” because you never have a defined path. I started breaking down different parts of music that I could do such as songwriting, singing, playing in bands and trying to license music. I am also scatterbrained, so I try and do them all at once instead of focusing on one. Over the years, I have learned how to look at it more as a job where I have different duties that I have to take care of unless I want to let my boss down, which is me. You have to keep trying to progress every year in all aspects of the industry or you will never have solid ground to work on and end up playing catch up on the aspects you ignore.
You’ve lived in Los Angeles, Nashville and now North Carolina. What was the most valuable lesson or advice you learned about music or even yourself as an artist in each of those places? Where has been your favorite place to live so far as a musician?
In Los Angeles, I learned how crazy the music business is. This is where I fell into the world of licensing music working at Prescriptive Music as a music consultant, creating custom playlists for businesses. This helped me shift my mind into writing music that other people might like instead of just things I like. Also, playing in The Heavy Heavy Hearts showed me a valuable lesson in practicing, networking and putting on a show that people would never forget.
Nashville taught me how to be a musician. Hands down, if you want to make music and play with other people you need to spend time in Nashville. I learned dynamics of bands out in Nashville and how you can tell when people are playing to the song or to themselves. You get the chance to play with top players when you live there and if you pay attention, you will learn a ton from each person. This also helped me write stronger songs with more focus on relating to others.
North Carolina has shown me how to work harder than I ever have before. You don’t have the abundance of venues to showcase constantly. You also don’t have the vast amount of other songwriters and musicians. I found that being more isolated helps me explore music more on my own instead of being constantly inspired by others. It has been more on an inner journey, which has lead me to writing about more relatable things besides love.
I’ve listened to all your albums multiple times and most recently, your single “Fortune Teller.” Tell us about that song, the response and what’s next in terms of your solo material.
“Fortune Teller” is a step in a new direction for me. I’ve used music as a venting tool to try and air out my dirty laundry for many years and I was getting tired of feeling like I was writing the same song over and over. “Fortune Teller” is a look at myself and the desire to be better. Over the past four or five years, I have taken a deeper study into the mystery traditions, which are focused on self purification. In a way music has always been this to me, but now it is on a level of trying to find the things I struggle with, because I know it’s not just me. Moving into 2019, I plan on releasing a lot more material including an EP this fall with singles leading up to it. I am also releasing music with my band Chuck Mountain based here in Greensboro, and The Heavy Heavy Hearts are planning on an EP, too.
How would you explain your music in three words?
Riffs, Introspective, Honesty
I know you’re working on material with your new band, Chuck Mountain. Tell us about how that came to be. The song you guys released recently, “The Devil,” is something I can totally picture in a TV show or film. I’m excited to hear the new songs you all are making — is there a full project on the way?
We will be pumping music out all year long, for sure. It started when I moved from Nashville, I wanted to find musicians that wanted to learn more than just playing in a band, but the business of it as well. I met Sammi, our drummer, working at a local burger place where he worked in the kitchen and wanted to jam. He came over and we have been working together ever since. We met Jeff, we worked together at another job, and he told me about having a recording studio so we booked time to record and he jumped in as our new bassist. We have been writing together now for about six months and recorded “Got Nobody,” our new single, coming out February 1st out in Nashville with producer Don Bates.
Which artists over your career so far have had the most influence on you as an artist and your sound overall?
Definitely Ryan Adams, John Mayer (Born and Raised), JJ Grey & Mofro, The Black Keys, The Raconteurs, Robert Johnson, Keb Mo, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Who are your top 3 favorite musicians right now?
1. Brent Cobb
2. Rayland Baxter
3. Shakey Graves
Anything else that you’d want to let the readers know?