Star Q&A: James Arthur

Round & About


Liz Nicholls asks singer James Arthur, about music, mental health and more. His new single September is out on 11th June, via Columbia Records, taken from his as-yet untitled album out in autumn

Hello James – thank you so much for taking time to share your thoughts with our readers.


Q. Congratulations on the new album, and the single out in June. You must be really proud of these? “Honestly, I am so proud of this whole album. I made the whole thing at home during lockdown, and I never could have imagined the difference working in a space I felt comfortable in could have led to me being able to produce the best work I believe I’ve ever made.”

Q. As someone who suffers anxiety myself, and a huge fan of CBT thank you for being so honest about it. How are you feeling now? “I take it day by day, I’ve found really focusing on staying present is the most important thing for me, I can’t control the past or the future, and trying to do so only breeds anxiety, so I focus on being in the present moment and just being grateful for that. What advice would you have for anyone going through a dark time? Speak to someone, you will be so surprised at the support you will receive if you just let people in, all it takes is a text to someone saying ‘I’m really not feeling ok’ which might sound like a scary thing to do, but by doing that, you are no longer alone. There is also an amazing out-of-hours mental health helpline by the charity SANE ( if you don’t feel like you can speak to someone you know.”

Q. What is your go-to album or song to lift your spirits & make you feel good? “Got to be Real by Cheryl Lynn is my jam.”

Q. What is your first memory of music? “My early childhood memories of music are of rock vinyls playing at my dad’s (Thin Lizzy, AC/DC etc) – also Prince, Michael Jackson and soul music on repeat at my mum’s.”

Q. How did you feel about fame when you were young? And how do you feel about fame now? “I don’t think I ever really thought about fame when I was younger – the greats that I looked up to, I didn’t necessarily see them as famous, I was just so inspired by their talent. I also think the concept of fame was very different when I was younger – people that were ‘famous’ were very untouchable, you knew nothing of them apart from their art, and fast disposable fame didn’t really exist, whereas now, with social media, people really have an massive amount of access to a person’s life and personality. I guess it’s a necessary evil. I don’t think of myself as famous which probably helps me, and I’m so grateful to have people who love my music enough that would consider themselves a ‘fan’ of me, but if I could do my job without being famous, I’d definitely take that option!”

Q. How do you take care of your fantas1c voice? Anything you don’t eat or drink, or exercises etc? “I learnt very quickly after back to back tours that if I want to sing the way I want to sing every night I have to look after my voice, so I do an hour’s warm-up before a show and then a cool down after the show too. Even with that, if I don’t have days of complete voice rest built into the tour my voice completely cuts out for a few days, and it’s the worst feeling in the world as there’s nothing I can do to make it come back but wait and rest. It’s one of the most frustrating things about touring for me, so it’s a constant balancing act.”

Q. You have said you miss touring – having had some rest time, are you ready to go & perform live now? “I cannot wait! I’ve got some festivals lined up this summer and I’m really hoping they go ahead.”

Q. Is there an upcoming /lesser-known artist out there who you want to give a shout-out to & urge us all to listen to their music? “Shotty Horroh – I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about this artist for many years and I will continue to do so. He’s the best MC.”

Q. Rule of six time: who would be your dream party guests to hang out or have dinner/picnic with, living or dead, real or fictional? “Kurt Cobain, Jay Z, Elvis, Cillian Murphy, Ed Norton, William Wallace.”

Q. Do you have a favourite book? “My two favourite books are Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.”

Q. What were your favourite saviours of lockdown: i.e. things that made lockdown life better? “FIFA was massive for me during lockdown – I put my gamer tag on Twitter and my requests went crazy. From that I managed to find five guys who have become my really good friends. We spent the first lockdown speaking for hours and hours while playing FIFA every night. I’ve never even met any of them, but I speak to them nearly every day, and having that escapism was massive for me during lockdown.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “I’d wish that people would be kinder to each other. I don’t even think that’s that big an ask.”

Q. Is there anything on your horizon or future ambitions you can tell us about? “There’s some exciting acting roles coming up for me, but I might get sacked if I talk about it so you’ll have to ask me again next time!”

Leo Sayer Q&A

Round & About


Leo Sayer talks to Peter Anderson about life and his show at Guildford’s G Live on Thursday, 30th May.

Q. When did you discover your talent for singing? “At a very early age as a boy chorister. I was taught by Father Demot MacHale, an Irish Catholic priest who, years later was also the celebrant at my wedding.”

Q. Who were your musical inspirations?  
“Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Van Morrison and lots of early Delta blues singers.”

Q. Do you remember the first concert you went to? “I think it was Chris Barber’s Jazz Band. I was really young, but my older sister smuggled me into the back of the hall. The highlight was that Lonnie Donnegan was in the band – he was the father of skiffle and sang wonderful old Leadbelly songs, like Midnight Special, during the concert.”

Q. Congratulations on your new album Selfie. What is your process when it comes to writing songs? “It comes from many different methods but mostly I get the ideas in my head and take it from there. Creating the tracks is a slow, gradual process, and since I am doing it all myself now, it requires loads of imagination and plenty of ingenuity. For me the creative process is linked to both the writing and recording.”

Q. What can audiences look forward to in these concerts? Well-known favourites as well as songs from the new album? Who is accompanying you? “We will play a couple of new songs from the album, but mostly it’s the hits and the most popular tracks from the albums. That’s what the audience have come to see. I’ve had the same band for a little while now. Elliot Henshaw plays drums, Dave Day is the guitarist, Stephen Williams is on keyboards, and Richard Hammond plays bass.”

Q. Do you have vocal training to keep your voice in trim on tour? “No, and I never warm up either – I just save it all for the stage.”

Q. Is Guildford a place that brings back good memories? “I played the final gig of the old Civic before they closed it. That was fun because it was an all-star band with Eric Clapton on guitar.”

Q. Is there a location or venue that is still on your wish list to perform at? “Wembley Stadium or Glastonbury would be nice!”

Q. Many people fondly remember your duet with Miss Piggy. Is there anyone else living, dead or fictional with whom you’d love to have a duet with? “Aretha Franklin. I met her once, but we never sang together… She did tell me that she liked my voice, though.”

Q. You have always been good at drawing; do you use art as a way to relax? “It’s more for work – designing record covers and stuff like that. I do find making music is more relaxing.”

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