He's been featured here at IAATM since March of this year and has quickly become a fan favorite. I must admit, I was really excited when Jim agreed to do this interview. I was excited because I knew there was so much more to this guy than what social media provided. Honestly, just looking at his photos and listening to his music, I knew he had a story to tell. And he did not disappoint. As usual, sit back, relax, pop a top and enjoy getting to know Jim Chorley.
IAATM - First off, thank you so much for doing the interview. I'm sure the readers here and I will enjoy your answers. So Jim, can you tell us how long you have been playing music?
Jim - I started writing songs as soon as I learnt a few chords on the guitar. That was when I was eighteen years old... I am forty-four now, so by my reckoning its been Twenty-six years. That sounds a long time when I say it! It still is as fresh now as it was all those years ago. Music is timeless as they say.
IAATM - I would love to be able to play some chords Jim, but unfortunately my right side dominated brain doesn't allow for the intricacies it takes for both hands to work together like that. I'm jealous as can be of musicians. Where did your inspiration come from to be a musician?
It also informed me politically, and in practical terms, showed me that I could be a songwriter as it championed the idea of D.I.Y music. Punk and Two Tone showed me that I could write songs and start a group and that my experience was valid. I think of myself as primarily a songwriter, as my musical skills are rudimentary. My instrument, the acoustic guitar, has always been a tool to help me carve and craft a song. So I am first and foremost a songwriter and a musician second.
IAATM - I must say, you're a fantastic songwriter Jim. You list your genre predominately as acoustic folk. After listening to you, I found myself searching for other folk singers on YouTube. It's a very enjoyable sound. With that being said, what do you like about folk music?
Jim - I love to hear a story being told in song, and at the very core of Folk music is a story. It is earthy and at its best is from the heart. I also love to hear regional accents in song. Here in the UK, we have such a wide range of dialects that are a joy to hear both spoken and sung. I think one of the best aspects of Folk music is that it is and always will be the voice of working people. Real people with real lives that have character and beauty, and even in the sometimes brutal events that are depicted in Folk music, you can find a melancholy beauty.
Jim - Yes, the idea for "Folk on the Stairs" is my and my wife's idea. It started off with me rehearsing on the landing of our stairs as it has a great sound. Then I asked my daughter to film me playing a song to upload to YouTube. While I was waiting for it to upload ( which incidentally took all night ) I started thinking about inviting other original singer-songwriters to come and play a session on the stairs, and so "Folk on the Stairs" was born. It's a warm, down to earth songwriter's session that we upload to a "Folk on the Stairs'" Facebook page and also YouTube and Twitter. I would like to stress though, that it isn't just about Folk as a genre, it is open to all 'Folk' who write their own material. We have had twenty-six people play so far, although not all in one go. The largest amount we have had so far was five people in a group called The Shimmering Bees. The stairs really shimmered that night, let me tell you. :)
IAATM - I believe I've seen that video. It seemed like quite the crowded house. The sound you have there sounds really good. Not to mention the background decorations. Are there any mainstream folk musicians out there today? Who are a couple prominent ones?
Jim - To be honest I don't really follow too much of what is happening in the mainstream, but an Acoustic/Folk artist I really like at the moment and who needs more exposure is Steve Pledger. He has recently released his new album 'Striking Matches in the Wind' and is getting great reviews. He writes songs that go to the very heart and he performs them with such passion and meaning. I recently promoted and played a gig with him, and he is a singer-songwriter of the highest caliber. He's definitely someone everyone should seek out. In fact here is his website http://www.stevepledger.co.uk.
With the millions and millions of songs recorded, how are people able to come up with different melodies and tunes? Isn’t there going to come a point in time when there are no new note arrangements without sounding like someone else?
Jim - My answer to that is that we are all individual, amazingly wonderful people with millions of different stories, melodies and tunes waiting to escape from us. Each song is the sound and story of that individual, and so that is why new songs are able to be written. At times, slight similarities may occur, but I don't think this is a bad thing. It is possibly an overlap of experience coming out in a melody or phrase. As I said before, I'm not interested in the mainstream too much and most of what I hear and enjoy is from the outside of all that. The mavericks and outsiders will always write and sing great original songs in new and original ways. I don't think that will ever change. I have always striven to follow my own path and write songs that are honest, truthful and passionate. I believe that if I continue on that path, then my songs will have their own uniqueness.
IAATM - Very well said Jim! I always eagerly anticipate the different responses musicians give to this question. You mention on your bio about playing house concerts. What exactly is a house concert?
Jim - A House Concert is a wonderful thing for the performing Singer-Songwriter and fan of live music, as it is the perfect setting for an intimate and rewarding live music experience for both parties. Basically, it's a music event held in someone's home and it is an opportunity to hear an artist up close in a quiet and informal setting. The guests have the opportunity to enjoy the music without any interruption and can have a chat with the artist in the interval or after the concert. I've played a few and would welcome the opportunity to play more. I believe America and Europe have a thriving House concert community.
Jim - A few years ago, I used to walk home from work, which is roughly around ten miles, and I would play at each bus stop on the way for people queuing and waiting for the bus to arrive. It seemed fitting, what with all the rain and gray days we have in England, to try and brighten the atmosphere. I used to call it 'Busk Stop'. I hope the people waiting saw it the same as me. Also, it was around the time when I was still plying my trade and learning the performing ropes, so I thought why not just play wherever the mood struck me. I'm playing a festival in the Summer that is also coincidentally called 'Busk Stop.'
IAATM - Ha ha! I can totally see you doing that Jim. That is awesome! With that being said, you seem like someone who carries his guitar with him everywhere and always wanting to break out in song. Is this a fair assessment?
Jim - Yes that's a fair assessment, as in the answer to the last question. I believe songs are made to be heard. If that’s at a bus stop, in a field or a city then so be it. Songs have a life of their own you know...They are pesky little things that get under the skin and make our lives brighter and more pleasurable. I love playing anywhere!
IAATM - Now for something the readers may not know about your history. I read your dad was the creator of the infamous crop circles. Where and why did he come up with the idea, and how cool was it hearing about how aliens were causing them? Did you ever participate in this?
Jim - Yes my Dad Dave Chorley and his partner in corn circles Doug Bower (who are now known as the infamous 'Doug and Dave') were responsible for originating the Crop Circle art form in the Hampshire and Wiltshire countryside of England in the late 1970's and early 1980's. They were both water color artists and lovers of nature and started making patterns in the cornfields as a way of expressing their creativity, but also as a way of having a jolly good old English time. When they starting hearing that people thought it was aliens creating them, it added even more fun. You have to remember that is was around the time of the film 'Close encounters of the Third Kind' and the world was primed to be excited by mysterious circles appearing in English corn fields under the cover of night. My song 'Painting Circles in the Corn' tells their story and is my way of keeping the memory of my Dad alive. He died back in the 1990's, and every time I sing it, I remember him and his gift to the world. The art form is carried on all over the world now and it is a joy to see Crop circles appear every Summer. To my Dad, it was the greatest thing to be in the countryside in the early hours of a Summer morning in England making Crop Circles. He would have loved to see how the art form has now progressed.
Jim - I enjoyed Kate Mills 'Cherry Tree'. It has a positive feel and I loved the production of it. The Psychords are great as well...I mean who doesn’t want to be like Joey Ramone. I will be checking out the other artists you have featured as your website has a great mix of genres and styles.
IAATM - Very nice choices Jim! And yes, our site does provide a very nice mix of genres and styles. I have to ask this question Jim. What are the chances you could put a little folksy vibe on my favorite Monkees’ song, “Shades of Gray?”
Jim - It is a beautiful song that speaks of an easier time when the world was simpler to understand. I love the lyrics in that song as they take me back to when The Monkees was shown on Saturday morning TV in England in the 1970's. I wouldn't want to try and cover it, as I feel I wouldn’t and couldn't do it justice as it is perfect already. A question to you though, Is it both Davey Jones R.I.P and Peter Tork who take lead vocal duties on "Shades of Gray"?
IAATM - I can respect that Jim. It is a great song. I do believe it is both who take the lead vocals on "Shades of Gray." I must confess though, I have yet to see a video or any article written about the vocals of the song, but it does sound like Peter Tork. So who do you have, The Beatles or The Monkees.
Jim - Such a hard question to answer as both have a special place in my heart. As I said, The Monkees show was always shown on Saturday mornings and Summer holidays when I was growing up in the 70's in England and the fantastic songwriting, melodies and performances were one of my first musical experiences and are deeply part of my musical history. Also The Beatles, along with Simon and Garfunkel, were one of the first things I remember being played on our old Dansette when I was very young. They had such an emotional impact that I could literally feel my heart shake and my stomach would instantly be filled with butterflies. So I will have to sit on the fence and say I'll have The Meatles or maybe The Bonkees :)
Ha Ha! Great answer Jim. You're the first one to pick both, and the first Englishman not to say only The Beatles. I can't thank Jim enough for doing this interview. I know he has been a busy man lately and I appreciate the time and effort he took to do the interview. I'm providing a few links below in order for readers to stay up to date on everything going on with Jim. I also hope the readers enjoyed getting to know Jim Chorley as much as I did. Thank you again!
By Maxim Daniels