Infectious melodies: Music in the time of Coronavirus with James Oldham

words Daniel Lamb

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, different people have developed different strategies to deal with the lockdown blues. We’ve all got a lot more time on our hands, and finding ways to be productive and creative can be a great coping method.

Some people may have taken up new hobbies, some have dedicated themselves to learning a new language, while others have turned to art and music in an attempt to deal with the rigours and uncertainty of the ‘new normal.’ 

Manchester based musician, James Oldham is one such person. James had been recording some tracks at Volta Lab Sound Studios in Rochdale (formerly the iconic Cargo Studios), until the inception of lockdown meant he was no longer able to do so. Rather than let his musical aspirations stall, and not content with sitting around bored at home, James decided to come up with a creative solution to coping with being cooped up. And so, he set about making an album from scratch all from the comfort of his own home.

“I’d been steadily building my own home studio for about a year,” says James. “And with the travel restrictions, I couldn’t record at Volta Lab anymore. But I felt like I needed an outlet to keep me busy during isolation.”

The album, titled ‘yours truly, my mind’ is an eclectic blend of traditional acoustic jams, piano ballads, and infectious, feel good dream pop, touching on themes of connection, love, loss, and philosophical musings on the meaning of life. Many of the tracks feel particularly poignant in these uncertain times. The album also contains rich production which belies the humble D-I-Y nature of its creation, but also features some stripped back tracks which hint at the isolation which helped to forge its creation, as with ‘Alone.’

“Some of the tracks are a new musical direction for me. I’ve definitely tried to push myself and do something different, but there are also more traditional acoustic and piano songs on there, too.” 

James has a successful background in cinematography (winning the British Society of Cinematographer’s Best Emerging Cinematographer award in 2015), which he put to great use in devising, shooting, and editing his own music video for ‘Alone.’ The video was filmed entirely within an Aldi supermarket, with James once again using his limitations to his advantage, working with what he can to create music in the midst of a global pandemic. 

“I know how hard it is to break through in the music industry, which is why I focused my efforts on cinematography instead.”

But now it seems the time has come for James Oldham to focus his efforts on making the transition to music in earnest. And listening to the album, one gets a sense that this is a very promising debut from a genuine talent on the rise. 

Check out James Oldham’s debut album ‘yours truly, my mind’ now on all streaming platforms. 

And you can follow James Oldham at: https://www.facebook.com/jamesoldhammusic/

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