Making his #NewSick debut this week is San Diego, California based singer-songwriter, James Spaite. Having made himself known with 2014’s A Woman Gave Me Music, Spaite has reemerged on the scene with his new single, “Soil”, which released in May.
“Soil” is a thought provoking song that questions the idea of egocentrism and the issues that come with believing your perception of the world is better than someone else’s.
In the words of Spaite himself:
“Soil” is about many of the egocentric things I have witnessed people in positions of power communicate to others. Words that communicate “Your being is wrong because you are different than ME.”
Spaite also explained how the song communicates this theme from a series of rhetorical questions taken from the perspective of plants speaking to one another.
I had the opportunity to speak a bit more in depth with Spaite about “Soil” as well as details surrounding his upcoming record and what else 2017 will bring. Check out our conversation below and be sure to stream “Soil” above!
Bryan: Take me to the beginning of your musical journey. Where did the passion come from? What inspired you to choose music as a career?
James: I am convinced that my story is a combination of the stories that I am fortunate enough to be exposed to. My journey in music starts with my dad and my grandmother. I inherited their passion for music and the ways that it brings people together.
Bryan: What kind of role did San Diego play in your musical upbringing?
James: I moved to San Diego in 2012 for college. My time around professors and friends with the same desire to understand and learn has played a massive role in my musical development. San Diego has been instrumental in terms of shaping me musically, how I practice songwriting, and the purpose of music/art in general.
Bryan: You released a project in 2014 entitled A Woman Gave Me Music. What does that project mean to you? Do you have a favorite track from it?
James: A Woman Gave Me Music is meaningful to me in that it is a collection of many of the first songs I wrote and that it is titled in honor of my grandma’s musical presence in my life. “Effort” has remained my favorite track for a number of reasons. I wrote the song out of a place of needing to hear what I wrote. It comes around to teach me new lessons at different times. I have also received a few hundred emails, messages, and conversations of people telling me that it has been really meaningful for them as well. Those moments have grown the song from a personal reminder to something much greater for me.
Bryan: It’s been three years since that release, and this May you gave fans a taste of new music with “Soil”. Do you think there’s been a significant difference in how you went about the creation of your work from your last project until now? What have you learned?
James: There has been a significantly greater amount of front-end work that went into the making of “Soil” in comparison with the other projects. I have learned so much in terms of songwriting through practice and discussion with other friends. In terms of the development of music, five musicians played on my entire first album. Sixteen musicians played on “Soil” and my producer (JR Bishop) and I spent a great deal of time working together on the arrangement for the track. That just wasn’t something I was doing when I was 19.
Bryan: “Soil” is a very thematic song that focuses on egocentrism and the issues that come with believing your perception of the world is better than someone else’s, or simply the only “right” view. Was there a personal experience that inspired you to write on this topic?
James: The conception of the ideology in “Soil” started for me while discussing egocentrism in a developmental psychology class during college. The birth of “Soil” started for me while on tour driving through endless oceans of very similar looking pine trees in Oregon.
Bryan: Along with the release of “Soil”, you wrote a blog post on your website that goes deeper into the themes explored in the song. Why do you think this was a necessary route to take?
James: I don’t make music to just make music. I create music to connect with people. I think that the blog allows people who are actually interested to gain a more full understanding of where “Soil” is coming from. It briefly explains the moral obligation I feel to create art that leads us into a greater sense of togetherness.
Bryan: What do you want the biggest takeaway from “Soil” to be?
James: I want the takeaway from “Soil” to be a reference point for us all to continue growing in thoughts of empathy, understanding, and togetherness. I hope people think of how good and beautiful our differences are each time they see plants or dirt.
Bryan: Have you had the chance to play “Soil” live yet? If so, what has the reception been like?
James: I have been playing “Soil” for the past few months as I have toured the US and across Europe. The response has been great. Tons of fans have been passing it around and will consistently talk to me about it after shows.
Bryan: What is your dream tour, both as a fan and an artist?
James: As a fan, I would love to see Bobby McFerrin, James Taylor, and Chance The Rapper tour together. It would be amazing. As an artist, I would love to tour with Gungor and Chance The Rapper.
Bryan: If you could pick one song from your discography to describe your mood right now, what would it be?
James: Either “Soil” or a song that will come out later this year titled “Coyote.”
Bryan: Do you have a release date for a new record yet?
James: January, 2018.
Bryan: Talk a little bit about your upcoming tours. What can fans expect?
James: “We Go Together” Tour in October, 2017. JR Bishop and I will be touring the West Coast of the US. The tour will be the homecoming of Bishop’s 6-month, 2,650 mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. From Canada back down to San Diego. Fans can expect conversation based concerts focused on how “We Go Together.” Each show will be evenings with the goal of inspiring us all toward empathy, gratitude, compassion, kindness, love, etc. through live music, storytelling, conversations, and video projected during the concerts. The tour schedule will be posted in September.
Natasha Hooper and I have been in discussion about touring the US and Europe together in the coming year hosting similar conversation based concerts. She is a friend and an incredibly accomplished spoken word artist that I hold in high regard.
Bryan: What are you most looking forward to for the rest of this year?
James: I am really looking forward to releasing new music and the “We Go Together” Tour this October. Being able to genuinely connect with and learn from fans in spaces curated toward contemplating how we can be better humans is easily one of the coolest things I will ever do in my life.
Bryan: If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
James: I would either be working in neuropsychology, reforestation, or education. All three really entice me in terms of what I might want to do in the future.
Bryan: What advice do you have for upcoming musicians? Is there anything you wished someone had told you when you were first starting out?
James: Practice. Spend your time around people who will grow you. Stay curious.
Bryan: Where can fans find more information on you? What’s your biggest social media?
James: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are all @Jamesspaite. Instagram is my largest following, but I am active on Twitter and Facebook as well. My website is great place to stay updated on things as well. www.jamesspaite.com