[Exclusive] Rising from the ashes : An Interview with James Arthur


James Arthur touched down to Malaysia for Sony’s Music - Stars In Sight showcase. He graced the stage with his guitar and played several covers and tracks from his album  -"Back from the Edge". He has sold over 200k singles - "Say You Won't Let Go" in Malaysia and have received the Platinum Sales Award by Sony Music Malaysia. After winning X factor back in 2012, he has resurfaced with an all new album and continues to top charts all over the world.

What was your through process while making the album?
A : Well I have lost my record deal and went through a very hard time after the X Factor. I was struggling with some mental health issues I kind of felt like I’ve lost everything and my purpose. The idea of the album was just to write some songs and hopefully to help inspire people and connect with people. It was basically me just speaking my mind. It was a cathartic and therapeutic experience.

Which song is your personal favorite?
A : Probably, “Train Wreck”. I feel like it’s vocally, the most honest and I’m proud of the lyrics as well. Another theme of the album is honesty, songs like “Train Wreck”,“Finally” and “Remember Who I Was” those kind of songs feels like heartfelt and honest.

The recently released music video, “Can I be Him”, could tell me a little about the song?
A : Well I think it’s just that unrequited love thing, you know everybody probably have been in love with someone and they don’t know about it. It’s kind of self explanatory, you know being sad about wanting that person.

“Say You Won’t Let Go” has become of the most successful song, how do you feel about that?
A : Good! Yeah whenever I write songs I hope people could relate with them. To see so many people to relate with that song is a dream come true.

You mentioned being through a lot after the X Factor, how do you keep up that spirit to keep making music?
A : Because I’m not really good at anything else probably. But it helps me channel my energy. I guess I have a lot of nervous energy and when I make music, it makes me feel better. I think it’s what I’m supposed to do, it’s my destiny to make music.

When you started off with your career, is there a British artist you want to emulate in the charts?
A : Yeah, of course. There’s many. Anyone who’s made hits really. I’m a fan of people like Plan B. There’s a lot of British artists right now that are doing really well.

Were doubt that you won’t be able to pull off this comeback?
A : Of course, but realistically, I thought there wasn’t much chance of coming back. X Factor winners usually you never hear about them again. I thought maybe I was one of those guys, just someone who disappears but I believed in my ability and my music. That has what got me through.

Can you tell us more about your upcoming book?
A : It’s an autobiography but it’s also kind of a self-help book. It talks about my struggles with mental health and I’m hoping that it will help as a self-help book for people as well. I was asked if I would like to write about my story because it’s been inspirational and it’s such an underdog story. In my country anyways, people were amazed that I managed to comeback. I guessed people wanted to know how I did it, and know more about me and my life. It’s been an enjoyable experience writing this book.

Do you keep in touch with the other X factor contestants?
A : Yeah I do such as Ella Henderson, Rylan.

You are known to be a soulful singer,
A : Yeah I mean the album, has a lot of diversity on there. There’s R&B, Rock and Hip Hop. In the next album, I intend to try lots of different things. I wanna make albums that are diverse and have different styles.

Could you describe a little on how you regain confidence?
A : I think it’s from seeing the fruits of my hard-work. I worked very hard to get back to where I am. I’ve put the hours in the studio and writing music. Getting my health back to where it should be. To see how to manifested and brought me so much success, it has gave me much confidence.

What’s in your definition a beautiful song and which song you’ve heard before in your opinion is a beautiful song?
A : Well I think a beautiful song first of all is relatable and something you can believe in. Something that gives you faith and hope. Honest lyrics as well. The one that springs to mind is probably Adele’s Make You Feel My Love. There’s a song by Miguel called Leaves.

Looking back, would you have done things differently?
A : Nope, no regrets. There’s somethings I’ve said that I would love to take back. Like I said, I was going through a nervous breakdown because I went from absolutely nothing to everything overnight. It was very difficult to wrap my head around it, I was doing a lot of self medicating. Some of the things I’ve said were irresponsible and childish and I’ve set a bad example to the kids who may have been looking up to me at that time. There’s certain language I’ve used that were irresponsible. I regret some of that but it made me who I am today. It shaped my future. I believe everything happens for a reason.

Do you still feel nervous before going on stage?
A : Not on stage anymore, it’s always good to have a little nervousness before going on stage. If you’re nervous before a show, you can turn that into power and good energy. I think anybody does, even guys who’s been doing it for decades will feel nervous for sure but not in the way that I used to.

What advice would you give to those who are diagnosed with mental health issues?
A : The best advice I would give is not to look too for into the future and not look back very much because if you look back, all you gonna feel is guilt and regret. If you look forward, you’re just gonna feel the anxiety. I think anybody who suffers from any mental health disorder needs to take it day by day and live in the now as much as possible.  

Do you consider your comeback the biggest milestone you've achieved in your life and what would you like to achieve in the future? 
A : I would consider coming back and having a number one single the biggest milestone in my career. Being recognized on other side of the world and having a hit in America. This was something six months ago, a ridiculous idea. Not many people know but I'm very interested in moving into other forms of creativity like acting. I would love to be featured in a film or be involved in the making such as soundtracks. I love movies