Back in 2012, overnight, the life of singer-songwriter James Arthur was transformed when he won the ninth series of the X Factor, with his winning hit “Impossible” breaking records as the most successful winner’s single of all time. No biggie.
And since then, the Middlesborough-born artist has risen to fame with addictive bops such as “Say You Won’t Let Go”, “Falling Like The Stars” and “Empty Space” (um, hello Tom Felton in the music video).
And 2019 is poised to be yet another big year for the singer, as he’s set to drop his third studio album, YOU, his first in two years. With collaborations with the likes of lead singer of cult rock band Taking Back Sunday Adam Lazzara, rapper Ty Dolla $ign, Shotty Horroh and more, as well as a sold-out UK tour, it’s looking to be a busy one indeed.
We sat down with the singer and talked about his new album, loyalty to his fans, and the journey so far…
Hi James, how has your year been going?
It’s been going very good. I’ve been hard at work in the studio, and on the road. I’m very excited that my album is finished and is coming out soon.
When can we expect a new album? What is it called?
It’s out October 18th and it’s called YOU.
What is YOU inspired by?
You. My last album was very much introspective and autobiographical. This one is made to feel more inclusive and more about YOU. It’s inspired by other people.
What was the biggest challenge of putting this together?
For me the challenge is always selecting the songs that make the final cut. Two or three years of writing condensed into one record. It’s got to be coherent and flow nicely. That’s always the challenge for me personally. I’m really happy with the track-listing for this album.
What’s your favourite track and why?
My favourite track is “Unconditionally”. Because it features one of my absolute heroes in Adam Lazzara. To get him on this record was an absolute dream come true. It’s a song I wrote on the acoustic guitar – it’s very honest and it has Taking Back Sunday lyrics in it. When we contacted them about publishing and writing credits, we actually asked if they would like to be part of the record. And they said yes! I was over the moon. It’s a great moment for me being a huge fan of them, my inner emo teenager was jumping for joy.
On Twitter you seem to consult your fans loads for your music/album – why is this important?
I think interaction with fans is really important. I think I should do more of it. But I’m been so busy making music that I haven’t had the chance. They are who I do it for. So they should have a say. I should be connected with them as much as possible.
You’ve always been really frank in the press about battles with mental illness and anxiety – why do you think it’s important to be vocal about this?
I think it’s important to be vocal because it will ultimately help remove stigma. Anybody who’s in the public eye who has mental health issues, has a responsibility to use their platform to help others. I will always continue to do so.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt on your journey so far?
Just how important it is to know and like yourself in this industry, because there are lot of things that can make you doubt yourself. There’s a lot of opportunity to second guess and be jaded. If you’re insecure it can be a very difficult place to be. I think you need know yourself.
What would be your advice to someone starting out in the industry?
Don’t let anybody knock your confidence.
What’s next for you and what are you excited for next?
The album and the tour. Massively excited about both of them. It feels like a long time since I had a record out and have performed a headline tour. I can’t wait for both.