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"Releasing music is very vulnerable and it’s hard work"

Cecilia James

Singer-Songwriter & Artist

Santa Barbara, CA

My name is Cecilia James, and I am a singer-songwriter & artist from Santa Barbara, CA. I make music about love & dreams & change. I just released my debut EP, Different Ground, on July 30th. Here is my self-interview.

Who is Cecilia James?

Cecilia James was born in August 2020. Prior to that, I went by my birth name for all my music and art endeavors. This change was needed in order to grow past the person and artist I once was. It’s been nice to rebrand myself because it has allowed me to curate a new persona.

To me, Cecilia is softer, more sophisticated, more poetic, and maybe a bit darker. I’ll always be the same person, but with this new name, my intentions with music and art have changed. I am more devotional to my craft than I have ever been before.

How does a self interview, versus a non-self interview, feel?

I don’t think many people know how to do these things until you do them. Reading other self-interviews on the site gave me the impression that we’ve all gone into it with the feeling of “what the helllllll do I ask myself?” I think this is a cool opportunity to ask myself questions that I usually don’t get asked during interviews. Full creative control over what I want the world to know.

The last few months of actively releasing the music felt like a constant state of having to battle those dumb thoughts and just tell myself that it’s okay if it’s not perfect. Nothing is... nor does it have to be.

Your debut EP, “Different Ground,” has just been released. What does this project represent?

This EP exhibits the pivotal moments of growing up. I wrote the songs on this record between the ages of 15 through 20. There’s a lot to unpack throughout those years, you learn and change so much. I learned more about who I was, especially after they were recorded. It took me two years after recording to feel like it was the right time to release them. Even during this gap period, it helped me form new ideas of what the songs mean and they truly evolved on their own over time.

What challenges did you face with this project? What were your takeaways?

Since this is my first big release, every step of the way had me questioning myself. I found that I struggled with feeling insecure so much more when I was putting this out, something I hadn’t expected. Releasing music is very vulnerable and it’s hard work. The last few months of actively releasing the music felt like a constant state of having to battle those dumb thoughts and just tell myself that it’s okay if it’s not perfect. Nothing is... nor does it have to be.

I am very glad that I stuck with it when it felt too overwhelming because I learned a hell of a lot and I can take all of those lessons with me as I move forward. There’s a lot I will do differently next time around. A majority of the artwork & promotion was completed as I went through releasing singles, I never really planned anything in advance. My EP artwork only solidified a few weeks prior to the release! I think my biggest takeaway going forward is to get organized, budget, and take a good amount of time to plan everything out.

What is your songwriting process? Has that changed at all during the pandemic?

My songwriting process relies solely on spontaneity. It’s rare that I would ever sit down with the intention of writing a song and get that accomplished. Usually a song will start with a melody or lyric that pops into my head that I’ll voice-memo and work on over a span of time. I usually sit on a song for weeks, if not months. My ideas always come at the worst times, like when I’m at work or something. I think that is an area where the pandemic has helped my songwriting, since I’ve had a lot more free-time. I can just drop what I’m doing and run to the ideas that emerge throughout the day. During the pandemic I think a lot of artists struggled with the pressure to make art since we had all that free-time, and I certainly did too, but I found that I was finally able to write and create more than I had ever before. It took months into the pandemic before I started actually getting deep into my creative process, though.

Where do you find the most inspiration?

A majority of the songs I write are about love and heartbreak. It’s something in life that conjures up some of the most intense emotions for me. I know - everyone writes songs about those things, but also everyone’s experiences are so different. I think there’s a lot to be said about those subjects. I am definitely trying to branch out a bit from those topics, but it’s hard since it feels like my niche. I thrive off of exploring other artists. That’s another main source of inspiration for me. Sometimes I become so enamored with a new artist and it’ll bring out a whole new side of my own music. Listening to interviews & finding new music all helps me out, especially when I’ve hit a wall.

Thank you for reading my self-interview! You can find my debut EP, Different Ground, anywhere you stream your favorite tunes.

Much love, Cecilia.