Interview – Conventioner

Philadelphia is presenting even more musical flair than usual these days. Some of the music is not the average run of the mill mix of genres listeners may typically expect, but plenty will be sure to enjoy. Conventioner, who has garnered praise for his 2015 single Trouble, is back yet again with the catchy track Never Breaking. Using a myriad of soulful genres at hand from his time in the south, James Chester brings a unique style to the table that is simply sublime.

Mr. Chester elaborated a bit on his new song and its beginnings “… Never Breaking was written in one of my first sessions for this record (set to be released this fall) and it came together extremely quickly. As soon as we made that synth part, the song kind of wrote itself. It’s basically about the effort we make for the people we love when things get hard.”

Beyond music, James has an ideal source of inspiration in obvious Muppet goals. “[I love] The Swedish Chef, though his human hands were slightly creepy. I mean, the guy worked with the freshest ingredients and talked to his chickens, what more could you ask for? I always wanted to see more from him. A close second would be either Statler and Waldorf.”

Musically, the exploration never ends. “I love the power of minimalism. I’m a guitarist first so, I’ll probably continue to explore those types of textures in my writing, but ultimately the best songs have just what they need and nothing more… I’m always trying to cut things away as I write. Complexity is easy, simplicity is hard.”

Favorite works to date among his discography are among his latest productions. “I’m not just saying this because it’s convenient, but my favorite work thus far is the record I’m about to release. Writing it in Nashville was a great experience and I had the opportunity to say things in a different way by working with a new team this time around. For that reason, I’m excited to put these songs out to see how they resonates with listeners. Apart from that, people really seem to connect with my song Trouble from the ‘Legacy’ EP. There were honestly a number of iterations of that song before it found its footing, so I’m glad to know that people like it.”

James’ hopeful performances will eventually be attainable down the line as his career progresses. “Honestly, right now I would love to do a tour of really small house shows just because of the way it allows you to connect with the room. Those types of environments feel more conversational, artist to audience. Or, the Tonight Show because it’s the Tonight Show and they do a great job on the mix, ha-ha.”

Every show offers their rough patches here and there. “A number of years ago I did this acoustic show with a friend at a little venue in New Jersey. We were slotted among other performers and scheduled to go on at the end of the night. By the time we went up, the audience had cleared out and we literally performed for an empty room. I’ve filed that experience under ‘ego killer.’”

As the summer of 2017 slowly comes to a close, Mr. Chester gave his two cents on the music industry in its current state. “I love the music world today. We’ve never had greater access to music and as an artist, it’s never been easier to make the kind of music that I want to make. The explosion of sub-genres has given way to really incredible work. Also, I think people are more open to new sounds than ever. The key for artists is to find their definition of success and to go after that because there are currently a thousand ways of pursuing music as a career and a thousand ways of reaching those goals. At the end of the day, I still think that hard work pays off, with the right timing… [Even] though it’s not a guarantee, good music typically finds its audience.”

Beyond music, other artistic mediums keep the musician hard at work. “I love photography. As with music, it’s never been easier to take great pictures. I have a nice DSLR, but typically end up using my iPhone.” Even enjoying some summer films help as well. “[I loved] Dunkirk for sure. Someone told me that it looks like my Instagram feed. I’m obviously awaiting some communication on that from Christopher Nolan.”

From there his music remains to be his main focus. “I’m currently making plans for my record release and starting to think about the live show. I can’t wait to play these songs live. Never Breaking is the lead single off of my next record, which will be called ‘Heights’. So the plan is to release my next single, called Love or Protection… Then [release] the full record in the next two months. Other than that, I’m beginning to work on some new collaborations that I’m really excited about.”

Jam on.

Give Never Breaking a listen below:




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