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James's gig for charity on visit back to Inverness from new home in Germany

By Margaret Chrystall

SINGER James Mackenzie returns to Inverness from his new home in Germany this week and will share his latest music at a special gig for Mikeysline.

The singer-songwriter who had become a favourite across the Highland and Glasgow music scene before his departure in 2017 – is looking forward to being home after playing more than 100 gigs in Germany.

And no-one can accuse James of standing still, as he has collaborated with a number of different musicians since moving to Nuremberg and continues to release his songs.

For James, it’s important to keep learning and evolving.

“Nuremberg is like a quieter Glasgow, it is twinned with Glasgow and is very multi-culti and cool and vibrant. It is not too big, not too small – I think that is the most important thing about it.

“My little Skoda has been all over and I have probably seen more of Germany than I have of Scotland. I wrapped up my 100th gig this year. Anything from little open mics up to sold-out concerts of my own, so it is a mixture of everything but it has paid off in more ways than one.

“Gigging all around these places has allowed me to open my arms to new audiences, meet new people, see new places and learn.

“It’s not just benefiting me in the music business, but I have seen the differences in different parts of Germany.”

James decided to move to that country for two reasons – the first one, to follow his heart and join his girlfriend – now his wife-to-be – Eva.

He said: “I had also done a tour there set up by Iain Bayne of Runrig and afterwards he advised me that going to Germany could be a good move for me.

“So I got some one-way tickets for Germany and set off in June 2017.

“Looking back I think I was stuck in a rut in Inverness, though I don’t mean that in a negative way.

“Some people might have gone to Glasgow or London or New York.

“But I think it was good for me to test myself by going out to Germany to learn more.

“For the first six months I lived in Berlin where I had family friends.

“But I couldn’t adjust to the lifestyle there. It’s hectic and crazy and free spirited.

“Luckily though I connected with a small agency in Nuremberg in that time and they put me out to do some shows and in January 2018 I moved there.

“I got fixed up with a management and small agency here and got myself fixed up with a small job that allows me to do my music. It keeps my head above water so I can spend more money on music! And it allows me time to start working on my album, from now until January.

“From January to March we will be recording the album!”

Asking James if he thinks old friends and fans would see a change in his music, there’s an emphatic reply.

“Absolutely 100 per cent,” he said. “I’ve met up with very good sesion musicians who have gone beyond my exectations and they have been teaching me how to be a better artist when I’ve been with them!”

As well as working on his live music, by playing all over Germany, James has been spreading his wings farther.

Last year, James headed to Sydney, Australia, briefly, to write and record with Glenn Sarangapany of Australian alt-rock band Birds of Tokyo.

The single Shoulders – which came out in May – was produced by Nathan Sheehy.

Taking a long roundabout air route from Germany to Sydney – via China – James arrived shattered. While there, he was staying with his Inverness friend Andy Davidson and James found himself lying awake with jetlag.

But, as he explained, it paid off in an unexpected way when he came up with the lyrics for his latest single Closer!

n The James Mackenzie gig from 8pm – with support from Justboy and Colin Cannon – is raising funds for Mikeysline at the Tooth and Claw, Inverness, on Saturday. Full interview: www.whatson-north.co.uk

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