May 2008 – Vacation Break
Even though a full Q&A was promised for May, with James just having finished an incredibly busy and stressful year of steady,and sometimes grueling, work, and with his new project just ahead to prepare for, we have decided to give him a little bit of well-deserved vacation. The Q&A’s will resume as soon as James’ schedule permits.
Jamie's note: Obviously these download links no longer work, but you can enjoy reading the answers again, if you like.
Unfortunately, with James still working hard overseas, we will not have a supply of new questions this month. However, in order to have something of interest, please enjoy a few soundclips of his answers from previous sessions. His sessions are normally not taped, but we do have a small number of taped answers on hand and will use them as "fillers" for occasions like this when he is unavailable, or at least, until we run out of them.
From July 2007 – (Sound Clip) What is the hardest thing about guitar playing for you?
Being comfortable with the fact that the guitar is a very sloppy instrument. Guitar, by its nature, never hits the right note ever. If you go for a G, you’re gonna get a G sharp or a G flat, period. There’s no way you’re gonna get a clean note on a guitar because there’s the bending of the strings and there’s so many variables. On a keyboard, you hit an E and you’re gonna get an E. But, a friend of mine told me that perfection in music is not pleasurable and the proof of that is those irritating Christmas ornaments that will sing you the Christmas songs (imitates tinny melody). It’s soooo bad, but it’s perfect. It is in imperfection that the artist shines, that’s where the expression comes in. So, the artist is always kind of sharp or flat, that’s the expression – and that’s what’s so frustrating about the guitar but also so exciting – it never will be perfect.
From July 2007 – (Sound Clip) What’s the secret to starting an interesting conversation with a complete stranger?
Connect with them as a human being. We’re all the same. Whether we’re black or white, or rich or poor, Muslim or Christian, man or woman, 95% of our impulses, and dreams, hopes and fears are the same. We all want love – we all fear isolation. We all want better for our children than we had. Everyone. I watched something on the History channel about this. Apparently, there are ten dreams that comprise 90% of everyone’s dream-life and what that means is on a VERY deep level, on the deepest of levels, we’re the same. So, when you meet somebody that’s a stranger, that seems different from you, just realize that they’re not different from you. You can connect with that person based on the deepest of truths about yourself. Just because you grew up with a popsicle in your mouth and they grew up in the desert trying to find water – well, talk about music, talk about your hopes for your children, talk about loving some girl who doesn’t love you; and you’ll find that they’re just like you.
From September 2007 – (Sound Clip) How do you react to criticism, professionally and personally?
If I wrote it, criticism is hard. I feel like anyone who is writing their inner life is doing something very brave and, in a way, is beyond criticism. How can you criticize someone for telling you how they feel? I have a hard time criticizing most artists who write their own material actually because of that reason. If they’ve been honest and brave and set it out there, if it’s ugly or beautiful – if I don’t think of it as worthy, it’s probably my fault. So it’s very hard for me when my own work is dissed. It’s less hard, more mechanical, if I’m working on a playwright and I feel like a play can work but I get a bad review, I kind of feel like I’m a mechanic working on a carburetor, thinking I just need to add 3cm to that "whatever" and the thing will start on time and run like I want it to run. So it becomes less personal. If you write it yourself, it’s very personal.