Interview: James Styring from It’s Karma It’s Cool

It’s Karma It’s Cool released their debut mini-album “Hipsters And Aeroplanes” recently. It’s six tracks are jam-packed with adventurous lyrics and gloriously chiming, twangy guitars. You can read our review here.

Co-songwriter and lead vocalist James Styring kindly took the time to answer a few questions we had about the album, and to discuss life as an Indie musician in 2019.

You’ve written the songs on “Hipsters And Aeroplanes” with Mikey Barraclough, your former bandmate in B-Leaguers. What can you tell me about the collaborative process? You’re credited with writing all of the lyrics. How are the initial ideas generated, and do the lyrics or music come first?

James: Most songs start with a guitar idea from Mikey. It could be a riff or just a repeated pattern, anything that fires my imagination.  I’ll work on melody, then look at adding lyrics later. I’m constantly writing words and lyric ideas, so I can look back and see if anything fits with the feel of the guitar. We then sit down together and work on the arrangement of the song, demoing them at Mikey’s home studio first, before letting the other guys hear them, bringing their own input.

The press for “Hipsters And Aeroplanes” characterizes the music as picking up where the Popdogs left off, with a more prominent role for “louder and more jangly” guitars. What other elements or influences did you seek to include?

James: The Popdogs album was full of good power pop songs – catchy, singalong guitar pop. We picked up some great reviews for that record. Both Mikey and myself have an ear for melody – we decided very early on, first and foremost, we wanted to write a pop record. We’re aware some musicians and artists don’t like the word ‘pop’ – but there’s always room for great radio friendly music. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, or formulaic. Certain TV shows and the like are responsible for dumbing it down and giving it a bad name. I guess we’re not reinventing the wheel, just changing the tyres.

The music industry has changed dramatically. The days of musicians gigging aggressively in pursuit of a major label contract  are largely a thing of the past. There’s never been a greater reliance on networking and social media for new and upcoming musicians. What can you tell me about your overall approach to getting your music heard? How would you encourage and motivate musicians who are just starting out?

James: Yes, things have definitely changed. The internet has taken over and revolutionised the music industry (and just about everything else). There’s a good side and an inevitable bad side. As musicians and songwriters, you just want to get your music out there and heard. The internet allows you to do this, almost instantly. You cut out the middle men and record companies, and the DIY spirit leads the way. I guess the downside would be very little money is made from recorded music now – bands rely on touring and merchandise to make ends meet. Don’t write original music if you’re only doing it for the cash. Do it for the love, anything else is a bonus. 

“Hipsters And Aeroplanes” is described as a “mini-album.” Do you have a full-length album in the works, or what can we expect from the band in the future?

James: As I mentioned, we’re constantly writing. There’ll definitely be another record early 2020 – either another mini-album, or more probably, a full length album. And we’re currently in the studio recording two brand new songs that will be coming out through the Big Stir Record Label in December, as part of their Digital Single releases. Keep a look out for those…

You’re based in Lincoln, UK. Do you have any shows planned for the US to promote the album? 

James: We’d love to come over to the US one day. If we could support a bigger band and get something happening, we’d be on that plane! There are plans for shows closer to home, however, that will be announced shortly. Watch this space…

Thank you James! Please visit our review of “Hipsters And Aeroplanes,” and follow the continuing adventures of this rocking, fun, and original band.