Bianca James | 5 Minutes With

“I’d been dreaming of it for so long,” says Bianca James about her debut London headline show. The welcoming atmosphere of Shoreditch’s Strongroom bar set the perfect scene for the energetic, captivating performance of Canadian retro-pop artist Bianca James.

Noctis’ first time witnessing the Bianca James charm in a flash; within the first song, all expectations were exceeded. The crowd, myself included, was masmerised, by James’ stage presence that you can’t learn; you need to be born with it. Accompanied by a full live band, James shined bright like a true star, serving timeless tunes taken from her self-titled debut album, including her smash hit ‘Bang Bang Baby.’

Bianca James is known for blending modern pop with elements of the 60s, Motown, and soul that ultimately became her signature sound. Though it may seem like James had an easy journey, she had to finance her music by selling her car, confirming her uncompromising passion and drive to fulfill her dreams.

In our interview, Bianca James talks more about her future move to London, craving a balance of inner creative fire versus finding love and a new album coming in 2024.

First of all, I would like to say congratulations on your UK live debut, it was fantastic seeing you live and experience the infectious Bianca James energy in person. How did you enjoy the show, what was the feedback like?

Thank you! I loved the show & am so thrilled with all the positive feedback we got on the performance. My band and I really poured our hearts & souls into it so it’s so rewarding to feel like the loving energy was felt by the crowd. I’m so happy I finally performed in London – I’d been dreaming of it for so long. 

What goes through your head when you’re performing in an intimate setting? Does your brain shut off and your heart takes over? 

It’s definitely a combo of brain and heart. I need to be present to be aware of things like the sound, not tripping over all of the cables on the stage, and giving attention to everyone in the room. However, I also have moments of losing myself in the music to create an experience that transports the crowd somewhere else (like – say – sunny Monaco 🙂

You said it feels like coming home to the UK, where does your love for the culture stem from you think?

I think it comes from amazing British music and films and fashion design (60’s rock, Bond films, Mary Quant). Also my mom’s parents are of UK-descent so it’s in my blood. 

Would you ever consider moving over here?

Absolutely. I’m renting my flat in Toronto as we speak and want to make London my home!

Few months ago, you released your self-titled debut album, what chapter of your life does this project explore?

It explored the past 4 years – going through a big heartbreak, and then going through the pandemic. My next album which is coming in 2024 will be about the last year – it’s definitely been one of the most positive transformations.

What do you feel when you listen back to it?

Honestly, I feel pride when I listen to it. My producers and I worked very hard to create a high-quality product on my independent artist  budget. I’m so grateful for all the incredible musicians we worked with in Los Angeles, Toronto, and London.

Could you elaborate for us how the beginning of your musical journey looked like?

I’ve been singing since I was five years old, but I really started taking music seriously in the last four years. In 2021 and 2022 I wrote and recorded the debut album. I can’t wait to see where the future takes me! 

For the outside world who are not involved in music or other creative arts, it may seem as a mystery how does one figure out who you are as an artist, as we all struggle to figure out who we are in general. Did you always have an idea what Bianca James, the singer would look and sound like?

I definitely struggled in terms of crystallizing my look – it took me 2 years of making mistakes and trying things (hello archived instagram posts haha!) Sonically, it was easier, as I knew I wanted to combine modern pop with 60’s influences like Motown, soul and some rock – basically blending together the things I love. 

How does your songwriting process look like?

It really varies from song to song. Often I start with a melodic idea and lyrics that come to me – I’ll grab my iPhone and record a voice memo to capture that idea before it disappears. Then I will go to my laptop and try to flush out the idea by writing more lyrics. Then I’ll often sing the entire song acappella and send it to my producer to see what he thinks of the idea. There are songs, though I’ve written first on piano, like “Inside Out”.

What is on your ‘career bucket list’?

Moving to London, performing every month, booking a tour for late 2024, and then festivals all over Europe. I would love to secure a publishing deal to help me finance my project and to write for other artists. We are 70% of the way through my second album which is coming in 2024 and I am so excited to give more music to my fans! 

Where do you envision yourself in five years?

Living in London, travelling around Europe, and hopefully in a loving partnership with a nice cozy home. I’m half Italian and very affectionate and it’s important to me to find love as well as to build a great career. We need balance to fuel our inner creative fire. I’d also love to have designed my own fashion line within 5 years. Look out world! Hahah 😉

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Words: Karolina Kramplova