Cultural obsessions with the songwriter...

When Clash last spoke to James Hersey has left us with these parting words: “It sounds really corny but I think that for me music is a universal language…”

It gets to the heart of why he does this - loosely based in Berlin but forever travelling, he's a true internationalist, seeking out fresh inspiration wherever he can find it.

Pairing up with South African singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops on new smash 'My People', the pair challenge each other to scale fresh heights, to accept fresh challenges.

With 'My People' still fresh in our minds, Clash sat down with James Hersey to explore his cultural obsessions...

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Album...

The Beatles - 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band'
There’s not been a day in my life that I’m not thrilled to listen to this album. The songs have amazed and accompanied me since childhood, and the philosophy behind the production has guided all my work since day one.

It’s fearless and timeless despite the obvious signature sounds of the era, and the songs are inarguably among the greatest ever written. The 60’s were the birth of a new genre - where blues, rock ’n’ roll, R&B, and folk came together to form something new. Poetry for the people - pop music.

Book...

Nathan Hill - The Nix
You know how some books are so good you catch yourself reading non-stop, no breaks just to smash through it as fast as you can? This is not one of those books. It’s old-school good but new-school smart. Like Wes Anderson on 35mm, or Kendrick on vinyl. I don’t think I’ve ever deliberately slowed down my reading as much as I did for this book, and it was still over too fast.

If you’re curious about something deep but not nearly as long, read Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The story on the surface goes by pretty quick, but the essence of this book will stay with you forever.

And if you’re looking for a great adventure that’s still in the making, start reading the Red Rising books by Pierce Brown - Part Five is out this fall and yes, I already pre-ordered it.

Film...

Arrival
A film about the most important thing that makes us human: Communication. Arrival puts into question a lot of things that we take for granted. Our relationship with time is a key theme, for example. But even gravity is under fire in this one. I’m sure it’ll be remembered as one of the great philosophical sci-fi films of our time.

TV Show...

Fargo, Season 1
This show, or specifically this season of this show, is a ten-part masterpiece that everyone should watch at least once. It has a dry, intense American-ness that makes you feel almost guilty as a viewer. At some moments like a voyeur who’s seen more than they should, at others like an accomplice who knows too much.

Gadget...

Neo-Instruments Minivent II
My favourite gadget at the moment is very guitar-specific: a stompbox, or effect-pedal, that gives my electric guitar a Leslie sound. That’s a very famous vintage rotary effect that you might describe as “watery” or “wobbly.”

You’d recognise it if you come to one of my shows. It gives my guitar a certain organic depth on stage that’s strangely nostalgic for me.

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James Hersey's mini-album 'Innerverse' is out now. Catch the songwriter at London's Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on May 7th.

Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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