A busker's life
by Mike Barnard September 23, 2015
Symon (With a Y) James
Singer-songwriter, guitarist and busker Symon With a Y hails from London and can be heard playing original music and re-worked cover songs on its streets. His soulful country, folk and blues offers enjoyable melodies, particularly on new single “Cherry Tree” out on Friday, September 25th. We caught up with Symon to find out more about his nomadic performing.
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what were you doing before you started making music? I have always been making music from as far back as I can remember, I had a period of time working in the city in an accounts team but was always thinking about music.
What was the first style or genre of music you really got into? I listened to to soul, funk and blues… I loved the sound and warmth of tape especially.
Was their a particular song or artist who inspired you? I think both Eric Clapton and Andre Segovia inspired my guitar playing although completely different in styles… The music I listened to never seemed to translate into my own music though. I also listened to a lot of classical music.
Tell us when you realised you wanted to get involved in making music and playing tunes to people? It was never a realisation to want to play for other people as more of a release for me. I am happy just to share my music, people liking what I do is a bonus, really.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice that day, what would it be? Don’t ever feel pressured to follow.
"I am happy just to share my music, people liking what I do is a bonus".
How do you set about writing tunes? Is there a common starting point for all your work? Lucky for me I get a number of songs happening at once in my head, generally they are formed in my head and then I play them out loud. I have no formula. I just play what I feel sounds ok.
If your music was a person, how would you describe their personality and where would they live? The person would be present and very much in touch with life, the person would feel comfortable enough to change. My person would live on an island in a large tree house where they could observe the view.
What are your top three “must haves” while you’re on tour? Guitar, microphone and coffee.
What have you been listening to this year so far? I generally like silence but when I do listen it will usually be anything from Al Green to the Eagles to Keith Jarrett.
Do you have any pre-set rituals? I like to have quiet time, that is all really.
What was the most significant moment of 2014 for you and why? Meeting David Hockman, whilst busking. He signed me five months later.
What have you been listening to this year? Can you give us a top three records of 2015 so far? I have been listening to Jack Savorietti, he has lots if soul in his sound. He would be one of the three along with James Bay and Jack Johnson.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be? It would have to be Eric Clapton, every note he plays means something.
How is the rest of 2015 shaping up for you? Where can we see you play? 2015 has been lots of hard work, recording, writing and playing live. I can be seen all over London from Southbank to Camden, I will be updating my twitter feed as to where I will be playing.
Watch Symon With a Y’s new single “Cherry Tree”: