Artist TalkSongwriting

Artist Talk with Jo James

Austin based artist Jo James has just released a brand new EP titled “Back home”! The third one so far.

The first release from the EP was a song called “Love right now” which came out in April, and landed Top 10 on iTunes blues charts right away! Wow!

With his current single (also titled) “Back home” Jo drives awareness to finding that place you call “home”. Whether that place is a person, your hometown, a profession or a calling.

We all have a place called home. So this song should resonate with lots of folks. Watch the full (accoustic) version here:

Jo, congrats on your new EP which is a perfect blend of soul and blues ! I´m curious, you are from Austin/Texas, home to countless live music spots and a mekka for country and blues music lovers. How did the city shape your artistry and what is it that you love about this place?

I actually grew up in southern California and moved here in my early twenties. That being said, Austin Texas has my heart. This city and community have been nothing but loving, supportive, and just all around amazing.

Having been here for about five years or so I can tell you that it has made me a better player, a better performer, and all around better person. I love this city if you can’t tell haha

Jo, your song “Love right now”, which was released beginning of this year, landed top 10 of itune Blues charts. Congrats on this great success! Tell us what is the song all about and what inspired it?

Thank you so much! The song “Love Right Now” is about being here in the moment, not waiting until that moment passes you by. Take time to show your loved ones that you love them because life is too short and we won’t need love when we’re gone.

This song came about when my wife Chelsea was very sick with her disease called Ulcerative Colitis. She made sure to remind me during that trying time to take the time and show love and be there with her in that moment.

Sorry to hear that the song stems from such a dramatic situation! Sending my love to your wife!

You just released a second single “Back Home” which is a hommage to finding that place that makes you feel safe and like yourself. The song is  the second release from your upcomong EP. Tell us a bit about the song and the EP project and where it was recorded and produced.

The song “Back Home” is just that. It brings the whole project home. It drives that message of love, pain, defeat, triumph, and acceptance right home. Right to the heart and soul of the people that need to hear it.

The new EP, Back Home, means more to me than anything I have written in the past.

Each song speaks from my soul to a person I could never live without but was faced with the strong reality that it could have happened. As I sat and wrote the songs and moved on to recording, I laughed. I cried. I was grateful to be alive and that the person that means the world to me is alive!

These songs are to honor my wife, bring awareness to Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, and give hope to the hopeless. I want to encourage people to take time to love each other and be kind because this life is short. Back Home is a record full of love. Something this world could use more of!

I had the luxury of writing and recording this whole project at home. I wanted it to be and feel very personal in that way. I had the great pleasure of  having some amazing ATX folks work with me to bring this to life:

Sean Giddings (keys), Benjamin Alan Levy (mixing & engineering), Charlie Kramsky (mastering), and Catherine Davis (album art) without them the art that I was seeing and hearing would not have been possible.

Wow! What a message! So you drew the inspiration for your songs from personal experiences. How much do personal stories drive your songwriting in general? As an artist do you feel you need to live through your songs first to feel them?

Personally, I write loosely about things in my life, how I grew up, where I come from, what I’ve been through, and about me and my beautiful wife and our life together. My hope is that from my experiences I can deliver a message that resonates with people and brings some form of light into their life and hopefully the world.

How important are cultural and social happenings for your music? Are they underlying motives sometimes?

Absolutely! I’m actually working on a song right now called “Just Like You”. It’s inspired by me feeling and hearing the cry from our Black brothers and sisters in the Black community. It’s a song that calls out  hate and racism and drives home  a message of love and acceptance.

That sounds amazing! Tell us, who are some of your biggest music inspirations? People you grew up listening to or look up to still?

The list is long! But if I had to choose a few…The Beatles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Led Zepplin, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, and Jimi Hendrix to name a few.

Oh good selection! Have a big love for Fleetwood Mac and Otis Redding myself! 😉 So let´s dive a little deeper into songwriting inspirations, shall we? When starting a song, what´s your first steps? Do you start out from a guitar riff, or a lyrical idea? What sparks a new project idea in the first place?

There are so many ways I go about it. The most common are a vocal melody, guitar riff, or piano. Lyrics almost always come last for some reason. I have had a few songs where I had the lyrics done before the music.

Do you have a special songwriting routine? Like writing every day, or journalling or do songs just come to you whenever they come?

I usually sit at the piano or with a guitar every day and write. Some songs are great, some good, and some really bad haha. But I feel I have to do it. It’s not just some job for me. It’s therapy.

That´s so relatable! Are there song ideas you´ve been working on for a while, but still haven´t figured out how to mold into a decent song? 

Yes, absolutely. I have about 50 songs I can think of  that I put on the shelf or just haven’t figured them out.

Wow! That´s a lot! So we´ll have a lot more of good music from you to look forward to!  In your opinion, what are three ingredients for a good song?

Great melody, being true, and lyrics that speak to the soul. And to add one more thing, a super pocket rhythm section doesn’t hurt haha

Career wise, what is one big dream you have?

Honestly, I just want to spread a message of peace, love, and acceptance to anyone that’ll hear it and join me in the fight to bring light and love to this dark world.

Thanks so much for the interview, Jo and best of success and health to you and your loved ones!

To follow Jo James online, please go to:







Title photography: Alva Sim


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