December/January 2022

by Weeney Xian

Fresh Talent: James Hunter

by Weeney Xian

Fresh Talent: James Hunter

Having released a pair of EPs (‘Last Little While’ and ‘You’) over the Covid period of 2020/21, alternative folk musician James Hunter has recently been looking to promote them with live performances. Creative, energetic, emotional, flamboyant and not afraid to “piano bash with passion,” music gives James Hunter an internal joy and he says he can’t imagine not doing it.

“I’ve been singing ever since I could remember. I talk a lot but I’ve always sung a lot. From day one I’ve been putting on a show and performing to my family. I would be singing proudly in the Christmas recitals. I was always going for it, always being a character, always writing!”

Alongside singing, Hunter can play guitar, ukulele, marimba and keys.

“Piano bash with passion – that’s how I describe my piano playing. I can also fiddle around with the bass, but do not hire me for drums.”

His mother teaches music, while his father, despite being in IT, can sing and play the guitar, and Hunter’s grateful for having such supportive and encouraging parents.

“We’re passionately emotional and passionately disagree,” he says in describing the experience of having his mum as his music teacher.

His two EPs were written from a small room in an old Wellington flat, courtesy as it were, of the Covid restrictions. His narratives are intended to allow listeners to journey with him through vulnerable places in the human soul – love, fear, faith, joy and pain.

“There’s something special about that first room I was in. It was a weird thing of, ‘OK, I’m stuck here, let’s spend some time making music’. It was the first time where I spent a good long, proper dedicated moment on music in a while.”

Perhaps it was just that line of thinking that gave the first EP its title.

“‘Last Little While’ was a lot of reflecting and introspectiveness. There’s a bit of loneliness in there as well.”

2021’s recording ‘You’ on the other hand, was more present and relational.

“I found someone and felt love again! There’s also different types of love. Love of losing a loved one – Let Me Sing To You is a track for my granny.”

In October he managed live performances in Wellington and Christchurch, alongside bassist Taylar Mallo and Ryder Smith (substituting for regular drummer for Emerson McCullough).

“Performing more would be great, and to connect with wider Aotearoa. I guess I’m excited for the world to be more normal. I’d love to explore and see how everyone else in the world experiences the type of music I make,” he says openly.

“You can live without sport but I don’t think you can live without music,” Hunter reflects. “I’ve never experienced a phenomenon that connects human souls together more than music. That’s really confusing but amazing at the same time.”