LMHR interview with songwriter James White ahead of his single release “Citizens of Nowhere”
“…if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere” – Theresa May.
“I will always take the opportunity to stand in solidarity with groups that are beingpersecuted” –James White
Multi talented Essex based singer songwriter James White is just about to release his third single, ‘Citizen of Nowhere’. James has a long history of supporting Love Music Hate Racism, has used his guitar to rally opposition to the EDL and has devoted much of his efforts to working with refugees in ‘the Jungle’. His new single features a collaboration with fellow anti-racist Billy Lunn of The Subways, and is a pointed retort to Theresa May’s insular nationalism.
Could you first introduce yourself?
My name is James White, I am a thirty year old singer-songwriter from Saffron Walden, Essex. I am currently working on my third EP titled Citizen of Nowhere and I am about to release the lead single from it also called Citizen of Nowhere. My first two EPs gave all monies raised to refugee related charities and this one will be giving every penny to the mental health charity, MIND.
Tell us about your music style?
I think a lot of people when they hear “singer-songwriter” immediately think of someone like Ed Sheeran – but I am definitely not like Ed, although we both were originally from Ipswich! I try to not stick to one genre. My first EP, The Lost & Forgotten, was more acoustic/clean guitars, the second was a mix that went from full band sound with brass and strings to psychedelic to Americana. This third one is building on that. Recently, my live shows have had more of a country vibe as I’ve been joined by The Chaps who bring double bass, cajon, harmonica and banjo to live shows. But that will only happen once in a blue moon!
How has music influenced your life?
Music has been an everlasting crutch for me. At fourteen I wasn’t in a good place. I was diagnosed with depression and by the age of fifteen I had attempted suicide. Music provided me with a sanctuary, an escape from the demons I was battling day in, day out. I wouldn’t be here without it, I genuinely believe that. Playing guitar three hours a day gave me the best safe place to be after struggling through a day of school. I buried myself in it entirely.
Tell us a bit about the role music played when you were in ‘the jungle’.
I went over with a group called The Calais Sessions who recorded an album in the Jungle. But predominantly, I went over to take supplies and bring a bit of normality. I’d spend my time teaching guitar or singing songs with the refugees to try and give them a piece of normality in what was a horrendous place and a torrid time in the lives of these people who had to up sticks and leave their entire lives behind in a war-torn country. I did also have a kick about with the kids and generally just help out. To be honest, the best goal I ever scored was in a match out there – a 25 yard volley!
How did you hear about Love Music Hate Racism?
You know, I’ve been doing things for Love Music Hate Racism for so long I am not entirely sure! But the reason I got involved was because of Cambridge’s arm.
What sort of LMHR gigs have you performed at?
Lord, I must have played nearly ten? Almost always in Cambridge thanks to the lovely lot there. Either at festivals such as Strawberry Fair or shows around Cambridge.
What other gigs have you performed at?
My last show was playing at Camp Bestival – how cool is that?! And before that was over in the Netherlands. I played in Amsterdam and headlined a singer-songwriter festival in Maastricht. Before the year is out I have shows in Czech Republic and Germany too before taking a six month break to finish the EP, start on the next one before heading over to Belgium in May 2020. I’ve been lucky to play across Europe. Weirdly, I think the most north I have ever played is Nottingham – I should probably change that!
Tell us about the other causes close to your heart.
Mental health, for sure. Hence the third EP and all monies from it going to MIND. That and the refugee causes will always be very close to my heart. I also played outside the House of Parliament in April for Extinction Rebellion on the first day of protests during the two weeks they shut everything down. I’ve also played Extinction Rebellion events in Cambridge too. In fact, my guitar has two XR flags hanging down from the guitar strap of my Takamine. I was also fortunate enough to play at the first ever Cambridge Pride. I did also play at a rally that opposed the EDL when they came to town as well as one against that opposed the Free-Tommy rally. I also performed at a Stand Up To Racism one the day that Donald Trump was inaugurated. Basically, if someone is fighting for equality, you can bet I’ll be stood by their side! Whether it is racism, sexuality, gender – whatever.
Why is LMHR important to you?
I find it inconceivable that racism is a thing, especially in this day and age, after all the lessons that history tells us every minute of every day. Racism is a disease that needs to be met with the strongest possible manner and stamped out through education and guidance. I find it inconceivable that people can be judged by how far they were born away from where your sofa sits or the colour of your skin. It is totally bonkers.
Do you think music can play a role in uniting people against racism?
I think it already does! Look at rock and roll, invented by the black man and now adopted by people from all walks of life and race. Same with Jazz, hip-hop, rap. Music has no racial preference.
Do you have any events coming up that you would like to promote?
I have a single launch party in Cambridge, but that is just about to sell out – there may be some tickets that get relisted so that is worth keeping an eye out for! It is on 30 August at The Blue Moon, Cambridge with support from Billy Lunn of The Subways who features on my upcoming single, Citizen of Nowhere. Just keep an eye out on my Facebook (www.facebook.com/jameswhitemusicpage) or website (jameswhitemusic.com). But most importantly, the single is giving every penny I receive from it to MIND and pre-orders are being taken before the 30 August 2019 release date. It will be available on all major platforms for a whopping 79p, so please buy it, enjoy it and enjoy the fact that it will give back to people who need help with their mental health.
You can pre order ‘Citizen from Nowhere’ here