Nashville-based artist and songwriter Jeffrey James is known for his introspective songs and moody lyrics, slowing down and exploring his experiences in a fast-paced industry. Of course, Jeffrey isn’t immune to the rush of the music industry, and like many artists, he writes more songs than will ever be produced. In 2020, with his projects and performances at a halt with the rest of the world, Jeffrey did something he’s never done before. He returned to those “lost” songs.
Jeffrey’s new EP, Songs I Found in the Year I Lost (SIFITYIL) was created in quarantine. “2020 by all accounts should have been a big year for me,” Jeffrey said. “I released my East London EP and was featured on NBC’s Songland. However, instead of touring and promoting my new music, I (like everyone else) was forced to stay home with nothing to do but sit in my studio, work and think.”
We caught up with Jeffrey to get an inside look at the product of a year of working and thinking.
Showstopper Magazine Online: Your new EP Songs I Found in the Year I Lost is full of “found” projects. What was it like to revisit those ideas for the EP?
Jeffrey James: I rarely let myself look back at “older” songs with new ears. The Nashville songwriting culture is to write and write and write, so it’s easy for good songs to get lost in the shuffle… especially if they don’t fit in with other songs you are writing at the time. 2020 gave me nothing but time to sit and listen to my unreleased music and rediscover songs that still resonate with me.
SMO: Along with reviving old demos, Songs I Found in the Year I Lost led you to new collaborations. Tell us about those songs and who you created them with.
Jeffrey: I worked with a couple producers and songwriters out of LA and London respectively. All were co-writes over zoom. It was a great challenge to collaborate over the internet and still get your co-writers and producers to understand what you wanted to express artistically. I think “Sober,” “Making It Up,” and “Small Talk” are very unique songs for me, because of how they were created.
SMO: Do you have a favorite song on the EP?
Jeffrey: I love all my song babies equally! However, “Making It Up” holds a special place in my heart, as it’s about my dad— it made me realize that everyone is just figuring out life as it happens.
SMO: What challenged you most over the course of this project?
Jeffrey: Keeping myself and everyone else involved, motivated and on track. They say “out of sight, out of mind,” and I was never in the room with anyone while we were writing, recording, or editing the songs. Everyone was excited to work, but we all were also in the midst of a pandemic and we’re figuring out how to live and work effectively while taking care of our mental health. It was a tedious balance to keep.
SMO: Has this EP changed how you look at your music and your process overall?
Jeffrey: Absolutely! This process has taught me how to be better at sitting still and truly honing in on what I want to say. I have a habit of running forward without looking back. And while that keeps me moving, the plot can get lost. And I’m working on slowing down to focus on the full picture, when needed.
SMO: With these songs out in the world, what’s next?
Jeffrey: More music is coming! Also playing shows!! See you soon!
Jeffrey’s Songs I Found in the Year I Lost is out now to stream on all of your favorite platforms including YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music.