The James Carratt Project
What is “The James Carratt Project”? To begin, James is a songwriter, not much of a singer.
He loves writing and its love, life and hurt that inspires his pen. On a fluke he entered one of his songs to a ReverbNation Crowd Review.
“I found they love my song, but hated my voice. This led me to pursue other vocalists and record a new record featuring over 40 local musicians.” says James
I spoke with James extensively about his Project and songs:
Jackson Street Pub
Pictures On My Page
Didn’t Mean A Thing
Fall In Love Again
1. Discuss your composition and melody.
The song is based in the key of C Major and uses a simplistic classic country melody.
2. State the name of your producer and elaborate on the song.
The song was self produced by James Carratt the writer
3. Discuss the lyrics of the song.
The song was written during a very rough time in my marriage. Essentially, the lyrics take me back to my college days where my wife and I had met.
4. Elaborate on your music career.
I’ve been playing since I was young. I’ve played almost every genre with the exception of jazz and polka. Rock, Classic Rock, Country, Classic Country, Rap, and etc. I started out with influences like Van Halen, Metallica, Led Zep and the old classic rock bands. I was not big into country but appreciated it none the less. Eventually, country evolved to be something more of an 80’s rock sound with a southern voice on the mic. As music changed I found myself listening more and more to the country stations. From there we started taking trips to Nashville, playing clubs like Tootsies, the Cadillac Ranch and other bars all along the strip. My good friend, Jamie Campbell was the lead singer at that time and eventually life just caught up and I retreated back to my home to write music.
5. Brief me on how you are reaching fans with your music.
I find that allowing other musicians to sing and play my material is the easiest way to get my music to be heard. Other musicians throughout the country, but mostly in my own community are starting to play and listen to the music. Music that I wrote. Sure, I’ve allowed others to record the tracks in my studio, but at the end of the day, it’s my song being shared across their band pages and web sites.
6. Discuss your motive behind making music.
At 50 years old I’ve given up on the dream of becoming the iconic rock star from my youth. However, as I began this project I realized that a lot of local musicians really enjoyed the writing. I found that I can reach more people by simply allowing others to record my music which resulted in an album featuring 47 musicians on a project of over 60 different people.
7. Discuss your lyrics and songwriting.
Songwriting for me comes from the heart and what I’m feeling inside. It’s almost therapeutic. My wife and I struggled for years and I almost lost my marriage as a result. This was when most of the songs for the last record were written and recorded. Appears I’m not alone when it comes to this. Adele has three albums that reference her break up. She has since moved on but she had written so much material from this emotional heartbreak the songs are still there. I have to say I also have about three albums worth of material that cover the subject, however I’m glad to say I’m finding myself able to finally write about other subjects.
Many of my songs are impromtu. I’ll get an idea, record the rift and loop the track. I’ll scat around a bit, but the lyrics being to flow pretty quickly. I do use a cookie cutter approach many times. I know where the hook is coming and a that point I copy and paste the rest of the song together and start writing the remainder of the song.
The best material usually takes less time to write. One of my best compositions, Fall in Love Again and Pictures On My Page were both written in under 10 minutes…
8. Elaborate on your work and achievement so far in your music career.
Winning Rockstar Radio’s 2017 best country song from an unsigned artist had to be the pinnacle. Next week we find out whether we have secured album of the year for the Rockford Area Musicians Industry (RAMI). Again another huge accomplishment for a guy in his 50’s who never thought this could happen.
I’ve been approached by record executives including David Ross of Reviver Records who found that our unique approach to making music was at least interesting enough to talk about. It was an amazing moment to be speaking to the president of a top 20 Billboard record company to say the least.
9. Tell me your opinion on using rhymes dictionary or writing software to develop lyrics.
I think that these are great tools for beginning song writers. I often found myself using rhyme dictionaries early on. However, the more and more that you write the better and better you become as a writer. Even Paul McCartney once said he didn’t like any of his songs until after he had written 100 songs. It takes time. It takes passion. I’ve written almost a 100 songs and most of them are garbage and sit inside my hard drive never to be heard by anyone. However, there are a couple of gems inside there. Over time a writer will find he no longer needs these tools and write from the heart.
10. Discuss the music industry.
The music industry has changed by leaps and bounds since the 80’s and 90’s. Record Companies are not making what they used to and as a result the business model has evolved and continues to evolve. Artists have to grasp and understand these changes if they are to be heard. Right now, there is simply so much information. Between all the social media web sites and band promotional websites it’s hard to get yourself heard. It was at that point I decided to take a unique approach of simply letting others sing and record my material. In return I would produce and release the material on VINYL and on all the digital platforms on their behalf. Almost like a label myself but slightly different. Slowly, every so slowly we are starting to turn the “Big Machine” called the music industry.
11. Elaborate on how you prepare yourself for a recording session.
I have a small studio in my basement where I recorded almost the entire album. However, my main source of income, an insurance adjuster, the office is also in my home. When I get an idea that is overwhelming i simply track immediately, the songs are typically written in only a few minutes.
I very limited vocally. I’ll listen back to the track. I’ll ask other people what they think.
If there is a green light to move forward with recording I start vetting the players for the song. It’s a process of finding the best singer for the track. Sometimes, a song will go through 2-3 singers before landing that special someone who gives it life.
12. Brief me on your preference in terms of tempo as in up-tempo, mid-tempo or slow tempo.
I like to write mid tempo… more me it’s easier to get the lyrics out.
13. Discuss your shows or live performance.
47 musicians on one record. Really hard to get them all on stage. We simply took a handful of musicians of the record and formed a core group. Periodically we do invite all the singers on stage for special events, typically however, we stick with 3-4 singers off the album performing all the songs.
14.Share your press release and reviews with us.
See Above PRESS
15. Send a message across to your fans and supporters.
I can only say that this project would not have been accomplished without the amazing musicians and their fans. With them we would not have garnished the amazing support we have had from radio, press and media around the world.
16. Discuss the storyline of the song.
The story is essentially about my remembrance of a time from my past when my wife an I met. Those days when you meet someone for the first time and fall madly in love. Jackson Street Pub is that place for me. All the memories and all the good times wrapped up in one song.
17. Tell me what makes this song unique from others.
It holds a classic country sound with a unique approach to the drum production.
18. Tell me the theme of most of your compositions.
They vary. Honestly, because I’m bringing in different musicians and different singers the theme continually changes. I may start the song off with a classic country vibe, but after the musicians arrive to record I start to hear something different. I like to allow these changes and allow the musicians to take chances and change the approach the the song, It’s still my song, and still my chord structure but the approach that each musician has has always intrigued me. Several tracks were recorded 2-3 times with different musicians before I was happy with the track. Yet, each time it was recorded, even with the same exact chord structure the tone and approach continued to change.
I think this is what makes the project so unique to the listener. As they comb through track by track not one song sounds the same. All the tracks are written by the same guy, yet the approach to the material and the theme changes from track to track.