James used to hate making videos. Mercury Records, who we were signed to in the 90's, kept us away from the process; an uneasy compromise as we kept them away from our music until the CDs were finished. Videos we just treated as adverts for the singles, and singles were adverts for the albums. So our 90s videos are very hit and miss, mainly miss.
When we signed with BMG four years back, they were unaware of this history and we felt no need to disabuse them. They assumed we knew what we were doing. The truth is, most of our creativity is based on subconscious 'happy accidents'.
For the Moving On video, we approached an animator friend called Ainslie Henderson, who creates these beautiful Claymation animations of wit and vulnerability. I talked to him for two hours about the lyric, which was essentially about my Mother recently dying in my arms and how profoundly beautiful the experience was. Yes, beautiful. No one talks about how death can be beautiful. My Mum's death felt like a birth.
The next day, Ainslie, walking through the streets of Glasgow, passed a yarn shop whilst hearing the line "Time always unwinding". He was determined to create the video from golden threads of wool. It won best animation that year, and will reduce many of you to tears in three and a half minutes. It has been used in hospices to show dying children when they ask the question "What is death?". After that success, BMG gracefully left the video choices in my hands and until I mess up (which is bound to happen), the band have left them in mine. Our next one, by Peter Vacz, "All I'm Saying" won Best Animation in Germany.
To My Surprise, our latest video, came from the fabulous mind of Kris Merc. I moved to America eight years ago - it has politicised me, living in a 'corpocracy' where the politicians are so obviously bought by their 'sponsors'. The hero Edward Snowden's revelations, the bias of the Supreme Court, (the lack of) gun laws and the disenfranchising of minorities infuriates both myself and Kris and so he put it into his animation, with small additions and much encouragement from me.
The plot; a female activist/terrorist detonates a love bomb which dismantles our fear based society. We used images of Trump snogging a Mexican man and Obama tongue wrestling Putin. At the end of the story as she is inevitably shot, her lineage stands behind her; Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Bishop Tutu, Malala, Black Lives Matter, Pussy Riot and Aung San Suu Kyi representing those who have been willing to risk their lives for vital change. We even idiosyncratically snuck Elon Musk in there, though mostly we wanted to show women as the new wave of hope standing against thousands of years of Patriarchy. We hope it either entertains you or pisses you off.
James still have total control over our CDs but now, with the help of our friends, we are finding a visual voice to amplify our vision.
James release their new album Girl At The End Of The World on 18 March. Their UK tour starts on 2 May.
For tickets and more information: www.wearejames.com