Ahead of its official release this Friday, we’re excited to bring you the exclusive premiere of What We’re Fighting For, the new EP from singer-songwriter Patrick James. What We’re Fighting For is Patrick James’ first full length release in four years and marks something of a change in direction, with James trading in his guitar for a piano and a more polished sound and pop sensibility.
Despite the changes James has made to his sound, there are still a few reliable constants: quality vocals and strong songwriting. Although the surrounding instrumentation has changed, James is still able to convey so much through his vocal performance alone. He’s sounding as good, if not better, than ever.
The songwriting too, is as a strong as ever, with James ruminating on ideas and conventions of love and the love song across the EP’s five tracks. There is a lot to enjoy here and the transition to a new and more developed sound is a successful one. The injection of electronic elements doesn’t feel forced, nor does it detract from the emotional quality of any of the five tracks. On What We’re Fighting For James is channeling a more commercially viable alt-pop sound, all without losing any of what brought people to James music to begin with.
We could talk about the EP, but instead we’re going to let James take you through the songs on What We’re Fighting For, and explain where they came from and what inspired them:
I wrote this song in the middle of 2016. At the time, I had moved out of Sydney and my life had changed a lot. The song came really quickly but it took a bunch of versions before landing on this. Basically, I left Sydney because of a few reasons. I had been touring prior to that for the better part of three years with little break in that time, and as a result I was broke and I fell out of love with what I was doing. I forgot why I actually started writing and playing in the first place. There was that, and I had just gotten out of a very long term relationship that was a really big part of who I was. I felt like I had nowhere else to go but back to my hometown. I remember writing this song the day after I came home, on the very piano that my mum actually taught me how to play on. I thought that was a pretty special turn of events. It’s a song about frustration and confusion. The lyrics are meant to be self explanatory and obvious.
As previously mentioned the song came quickly. However the right version of the song took almost two years. The main reason is primarily based around the relationship I have with my manager. he’s been my manager for my entire career, almost seven years now. In that time we’ve had countless arguments and discussions about where my music should go and this song was no exception. Because I let him in on the creative side perhaps more than other artists, I really feel like that has shaped the way this song and the other new songs have come out. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a positive, we are searching for the same result, but that takes a certain push and pull from every creative angle. Sometimes beyond exhausting but necessary when trying to make the songs the best they can be.
At first I was going to give the song away to another artist. I always imaged a female singer singing this song more than me, but as I sat with it for a while I enjoyed the vibe it had. I thought to myself “I’ve never sung POP, feels weird but I think I like it”. It pretty much started a series of songs that were all in the same realm as “UP”, lyrically and melodically a lot more to the point than my previous songs. The song has a fragility about it and a sort of sensual feeling about it, that’s why a female artist came to mind and more specifically, Christine and the Queens. I thought it was originally a bit too slick for me as an artist. Lyrically, I thought it was too close to home for what was happening in my own life. I hated that I wrote a break up song, which is now the exact reason why I am releasing these songs together and am talking about this. I tried to not write about this for a long time and truth is, it is completely honest for me now to reflect on stuff that happened a while ago. It’s more genuine than writing another record like my first one. I’m not the same person as I was when I wrote “All About To Change” or “Message”, stuff happened and I dealt with it the best way I know how, to find something new about songwriting/being an artist and run with it. That’s why these songs are a bit different.
“What We’re Fighting For”
This is a song about not giving up on a relationship. I started to think a lot about how when you are with someone you build a life that is unique to the two of you and it gradually gets stronger over time. Even sometimes when things seem fully broken there is always a foundation of memories and things you’ve done together which reminds you of why you work. That’s what I was trying to get at with the lyric “if it’s not broken anymore, then we’re not done with what we’re fighting for”. This is one song that used a lot of my early demo parts in the final version. I just recorded them as I was actually writing the song which I really enjoyed because it’s spontaneous and not over thought. Sometimes the first initial idea of what you have in mind for a song gets lost in the process of writing to demoing to recording but this is a song that came out pretty much as I imagined.
“Overboard” is a song that I wrote a day or two after UP. It was very much in the same realm musically, and lyrically it felt like it had a descriptive story and scene, which is going a bit deeper than the other songs in that sense. I feel like these two songs sit next to each other in the emotion of how they came about and I always felt like “Overboard” was the back story that relates to the meaning of “UP” in some way. As far as the production goes, I’m probably the most proud of this song. After many attempts Scotty pretty much salvaged what was ultimately going to be a song that was put aside. We started on a blank canvas and tried to ignore all of the demos and previous versions. The vocoder vocal parts was probably the starting point after listening to Imogen Heap “Hide and Seek” the morning of starting again with this song. After we had that we pretty much added beats and instrumental parts and it all just seemed to fit.
“Running Out of Time”
I wrote this song whilst I was in the UK with Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway. It came pretty late in the process but fit lyrically to the story of the EP. This song is really the ‘conflict’ part of the relationship. It’s basically about an exact scene that plays out where someone turns up back home drunk in the middle of the night only to be met with packed bags. I wanted to write about the idea of time playing a huge part in a relationship and how that’s taken for granted sometimes. When everything is really great then time doesn’t matter, it’s all routine and everyday and you become content. but when you feel like something is about to end time really does feel like it doesn’t exist and you’re just in this state of limbo or some sort of emotional bubble that will only be resolved if you work it out. I was always thinking of specific tv shows and films when writing this such as How I Met Your Mother (sitting on the front steps of that apartment building) and Garden State and the imagery and overall feeing of that film.
“Future In You”
There has to be an ending to every story and I suppose this is it. This song is basically about putting all the problems together and instead of running away and ending sour it’s saying let’s embrace it. I was thinking that someone else’s problems can become your own and because of that it gives you a feeling of togetherness, like you really know someone and all their positives and faults, and that that is actually a really healthy and positive thing. I also wanted it to be really nostalgic with the lyric, so I was always imagining the apartment setting and how two people are just laying on the floor doing literally nothing. But, because of that it’s significant, because they have resolved all their problems and the healthy silence is able to come back, like when you can just not speak and be completely comfortable. Most of my songs and releases are about me complaining about something but then always finding a good ending! This is that.
To celebrate the release of What We’re Fighting For, James will be embarking on a run of intimate East Coast shows in April, with stops in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. You can grab tickets for those shows HERE.
Apr 12 | Workers Club – Melbourne, VIC
Apr 18 | Black Bear Lodge – Brisbane, QLDHeader Image by Glashier