Melissa James is a woman who likes to take her time. She has been singing since she was a little girl, but it wasn’t until she reached her 30s that she started devoting herself seriously to her music. She began writing her own material when her children were small, but it took a few more years before they made it onto her debut album, Day Dawns. The album came out last summer, and it is only now that Melissa is releasing the first song from it, Don’t You Keep Yourself Down.
“It’s all part of the plan,“ explains the Mill Hill singer. “It takes time and it’s quite difficult when you do this all by yourself, but that’s just the way I want it – I’m my own boss. I’m still learning the process, learning as I go. I get lots of advice from other musicians and look at what others are doing, and I won’t release anything until it’s of the absolute highest standard. There’s no way I’m going to rush anything, I’d rather take a bit longer and be happy with it.“
Melissa has been busy working on the video for the single and, true to style, spent months preparing for it so it would be just right.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Jan Dunn, the video is set in The Half Moon pub in Putney and had as director of photography Nic Morris, who has worked on Alien 3, Spooks and Being Human.
“I don’t know how I managed to get them both,“ Melissa laughs, “but I was so happy to have them on board. I’m so pleased with the result, it gives people another sense of the song and who I am, what I’m about. And the response has been great.“
Melissa is launching Don’t You Keep Yourself Down at The Green Note in Camden, where she launched the album last summer, with a gig that will include BBC Radio 6 Music’s Tom Robinson, singer songwriter Carron Dawn Wright and rapper Swami Baracus.
Melissa only plays a select handful of gigs a year, so this is a rare chance to see the soul songstress live. If you can’t make it, then Melissa is hoping to broadcast a live webcast from the venue – check out her website for details.
It may have taken her a while to get here but, now that she is, there’s no looking back for Melissa.
“I do this full-time now,“ she says. “I got to the point where my head was split in two between the day job in the media and the music, I just couldn’t do it. I had to give myself fully to the music, and I feel so much better for having done it.“
Don’t You Keep Yourself Down is released on Monday, April 29. Melissa plays the Green Note, Parkway, Camden on Thursday, April 25, doors open at 7pm, music starts at 8.30pm. Details: www.melissa-james.com