With the art of music video making becoming saturated with overly dramatic narratives or epic avant garde visuals, Sivu, also known as James Page, decided to take his music videos into another direction.
When the London based singer used an MRI scanner to set the stage for his song, ‘Better Man Than He,’ the video quickly went viral and Page slowly started to rise up the ranks from unknown up-and-comer to potential breakout.
Compared to the likes of Wild Beasts, Arcade Fire and Gotye, Page has just released his latest EP, Bodies, via Third Rock. However his progress toward becoming more of a household name, the musician still admits that he is still working at his day job – and he enjoys it. Best Fit had the chance to chat with the artist where he revealed how his personal experiences influenced ‘Bodies,’ what he gets from his day job and what he would be doing if he wasn’t a musician.
What’s your first musical memory?
I actually have a few strong memories. First was being in primary school and everyone playing drums together; it was the most fun class I ever had. Another which I hold close to me was my cousin getting a guitar. Watching him play it turned my world upside down, I’d never wanted anything more in my life that to be able to play that guitar.
How did you get started in music? When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician?
I knew I wanted to be a musicians when I was in secondary school and I started my first band. It was all I thought about, and still is.
What do you think is the best approach to the songwriting process?
When I approach writing a new song I think it’s most import to be honest with yourself and just follow your gut. Clear your mind of any expectations or goals and just writing something that’s honest to you.
What inspired the music video for ‘Better Man that He’?
When myself and the director Adam Powell were discussing ideas for the video, we agreed that we wanted to make something strong and really set the bar for the first Sivu video. Adam saw some stills online of the MRI machine and also short clips of moving MRI footage. We both absolutely loved the idea, so Adam approached Barts hospital and they were willing to let us try the idea, which we were over the moon about.
Your next single is ‘Bodies.’ What’s the story behind that song?
When I wrote ‘Bodies’ I was in quite a bad place. I was feeling very bogged down by a lot of things. ‘Bodies’ is based around the idea of just wiping the slate clean and starting again. I loved the idea of the Noah’s ask reference as a flood, just washing away the shit and starting again…and in the grand scheme of things, we’re also nothing but bodies.
How are you feeling about the release? Do you get nervous before these things?
I’m trying not to think about it too much at the moment, though I’m really happy with how the EP has come out and was overwhelmed by the reaction to ‘Better Man Than He’. I’m just really excited to get it out to as many people as possible and start playing a lot of shows.
Who are your musical influences? Who are you listening to right now?
I have always loved artists like Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong: I just love the timelessness of the melodies and the feel of those songs. When approaching melodies, I always go back to those references. I also love artists like Beck, Feist and Bjork – just artists who put interesting twists on the singer-songwriter mould. Right now, I’m listening to the new Foals album ‘Holy Fire’ – I love it – and Marika Hackman’s new EP is also incredible.
Aside from music, I read that you still work at a call centre in London – what’s the best/weirdest call you’ve ever taken? How is it combining a daily job with music, has that job in any way had an influence in your music?
It sounds really strange – it’s actually been very good for me to still work. I’ve found that it’s kept me really focused on what I want and also gives me a chance to separate myself from my music and really come back to it with fresh ears. Working in the call centre has also instilled a strong work ethic, which I feel is quite important generally. Oh man, I can hold my hands up and honestly say I don’t think I can refer to one interesting call. I’m sorry, but it’s all dull!
There is a definite dreamy quality to your sound, but how would you describe your music?
I think it’s hard to tell at the moment, just as things are moving forward with every recording session and every new release. I tend to just label it as alternative, though there are definitely pop and folk influences in there there. I’m trying not to label it too soon, as the sound is evolving all the time.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
For me it would definitely have to be Beck. I’d just love to see how he approaches songwriting, and the way he makes his crazy sounds and drum loops. He is perfection for me.
You’re in the middle of a pretty extensive tour with The Staves at the moment – how has that been? Are they good people to tour with?
The Staves tour was incredible and such an eye-opener for me: it’s the first proper round of touring I have done. They work so hard and are just incredible every night, plus they’re so lovely: I felt very honoured to support them. Playing Amsterdam was especially amazing.
How do you feel about touring and playing live, is it something that you enjoy or the part of the music world that you dread the most?
I am really keen to play live as much as possible. I think now more that ever, playing live and building a live following is just so important. Touring is quite a new experience for me at the moment, so I do feel that I’m kind of taking baby steps…but I am enjoying it more and more with every show.
What do you think you would be doing if it wasn’t music?
I’d probably be working in the call centre. I honesty don’t know. Maybe I would have gone to Uni and become a much better drinker?
What is up for Sivu this year? Any big announcements?
This rest of this year is going to be about getting as much new music out as possible, and playing wherever I can. I’m playing a handful of festivals this summer which I’m really excited about: Bushstock, Wynchwood festival, Festival no 6 and also Lounge On the Farm. I can’t wait for more people to hear my music.