Wonderland caught up Dublin’s finest nu-disco diva James Wolf to chat style icons, dreams for the future and what he can’t get enough of.
Dublin boy James Wolf is a fresh and tasty burst of tropical sunshine on the London Music Scene. After making his name in his native Ireland with his then posy Bitches with Wolves, who supported the likes of Calvin Harris and Scissors sisters, he went solo and sailed away to make his name in the big smoke.
Wolf effortlessly blends spangly pop and sassy nu-disco with ease, bringing fun filled rhythms together with clever lyrics. Visually, he makes a statement and has a big love for the bold prints and kaleidoscopic aesthesis, serving up a slice of sunnier climes and really pulling it off.
His latest offering, ‘Can’t Get Enough’, crescendos from an undulating bass line to an all-out euphoric chorus as James’ silky vocals straddles the infectious beat. Produced and written by James Wolf and Troika, ‘Can’t Get Enough’ is also accompanied by a bold and unmissable video directed by Lewis Kyle White (Klaxons) which showcases James Wolf’s vibrant sense of style.
With so much in the pipeline Wolf is one to watch and summer may be coming around earlier than expected this year.
When did you first get into music, is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
I got into it a couple of years ago after convincing a club promoter that I was in a band called Bitches With Wolves and we’d a underground hit in Scandinavia called ‘You Can’t Piss To This’. Amazingly, he believed me and I woke up the next day with a gig date scrawled on my arm.
Luckily, a few days later I got a phone call from a songwriter who said he’d a mate who was a producer and would I like to work with them.. I was like ‘hell yes!’ and things just went from there.
You’re known for club nights in your native Ireland, how did that come about?
Yeah, a mate of mine Una Mullally used to run a night called Soundcheck and invited me down to DJ one night. I headed down with two of my Bitches With Wolves crew and we turned the place out. I was insane! I’d so much fun that I decided I wanted to start my own wild night and got two of my mates on board and WAR was born. Five years on and it’s still going which is incredible.
Has your music been inspired in anyway by Ireland?
I don’t know if it’s been directly inspired by Ireland – I’m not quite the Corrs. That said there is an amazing tradition of song writing in Ireland, which I would have grown up around and definitely would have rubbed off on me.
You’ve been in London a few years now, what do you love about the city?
What I love most about London is that you can never be bored here. There is so much to explore and learn about, be it from the insane hipster microcosm of Chatsworth Road in Clapton to the watering dens in Soho. Plus, you can head out on a Monday night and the city is still kicking.
How would you describe your sound?
I’d describe it as a mix of tropical house fused with a thick slice of disco. But most importantly it’s about fun, giant club-heaving, strobe-flashing, mates-high-fiving fun. I’m all about making sure I have the time of my life and I really think that rubs off in my music.
Who did you listen to growing up, and are there any heroes you’d love to work with today?
As a little kid I was massively into pop and would pour over artists back catalogues. So one moment I’d be into Michael Jackson and the next moment I’d be exploring my way through the Like A Prayer album. And then there were the Spice Girls. Let’s just say I was absolutely, borderline crazily obsessed.
When I got a little older, my sister introduced to me to Moloko and I’ve been a massive fan of Roisin Murphy ever since. Her Overpowered album is one of my favourite albums of all time. She is definitely a hero of mine that I would jump at the chance to work with.
You’ve got a strong look, who or what influences your style?
Why thank you very much. I live for clothes and getting dressed up, be it for a trip to the shops or a gig. When it comes to my style, I’m a total magpie for prints, colours and textures. Basically, anything eye catching.
Who are your fashion icons?
My fashion icons have to be Grace Jones, Ricardo Tisci, Gianni Versace and Pelayo Diaz.
Give us the lowdown on ‘Can’t Get Enough’?
It’s all about that moment when you meet someone special and you fall hook, line and sinker for them. It’s about instant attraction and first kisses.
What can’t you get enough of?
I just managed to get my hands on an Acne silver biker jacket that hasn’t come off my back since I got it home. It’s an absolute beaut of a thing.
You’ve worked with some pretty exciting producers, what’s that process been like?
Usually we’ll start with a melodic idea I have and go from there. The song writing usually takes a day or so and then it’s into production, which can go on for sometimes weeks. I’m really hands on with everything, so I tend to work through the track with the producer, helping to build our three and a half minute world from scratch.
Figuring out where you’re going with your song is the really fun part, as you never really end up where you thought you would starting out.
The video for can’t get enough is pretty superb, did you have fun making it?
I had such a blast. Basically, I was on a podium for a day pretending I was Beyonce. Living. The. Dream. I have to say, the credit needs to go to Lewis Kyle White, who directed it. He worked so hard to take what I had in mind and turn it into a reality, which was bigger and better than I could have imagined.
What song can’t you get out of your head right now?
Right now I’m loving ‘Desire’ by Years & Years. I think they’re amazing.
What can people expect if they see you live?
My band and I have designed a show that doesn’t stop from start to finish. It’s designed to get your feet moving and heart racing and is like one big party.
What are you’re aspirations for 2015, and what do we have to look forward to from you?
I have loads of aspirations for next year and don’t want to jinx things by saying them just yet. In terms of what to expect, there’s going to be a lot more music and a lot more shows. I’m only getting started.
Words: Josh Willacy