Spotlight: James Dunne

When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician? 


I remember being coaxed by my cousins when I was about five or six years old to give them a performance of Daniel O’Donnell, something that I still get teased about now! I’ve messed about with the guitar since my teens but never too seriously as I had other interests at the time but music was always a massive part of my life and who I am. I picked the guitar back up again more regularly in my late twenties and found myself playing song after song of Country music. I started taking part in the open mic circuit in late August 2022. This escalated into a steady runs of gigs, my first solo headline show being at a little venue called the Mole Hole in Gravesend. After that gig, it’s steadily grown and grown.  


Before becoming a musician you spent time serving in the armed forces. Firstly, thank you for your service. Secondly, how much of your previous life experiences such as serving abroad influences the topics you explore through your songwriting? 


Thank you, I appreciate that, and a lot of how I felt then is portrayed in my songwriting and I tend to use a lot of metaphors to communicate those experiences in my life. I do however think these feelings and memories contribute more on how I deliver a line in a song conveying heart ache, frustration, and raw truth. Cash once said all you need is three chords and the truth and he was exactly right. As long as you have a story to tell, people will feel your music as well as hear it, the Outlaw legends delivered truth whether it was welcomed or not, it was real and that’s what I hope I’m doing. 


How has music helped you in that transition from being in the armed forces to being a civilian? 


Massively, I think that can be said for any big change in life, music is therapy – particularly if you are not a big talker or sharer. I’m constantly in the van and it’s like my personal reflection space but without weird bloke in a sweater vest sat in armchair asking “…and how did that make you feel?” -in a that voice! Music makes it possible to just take my mind back to any point in time, to somewhere I want to be and feel what I felt, or enable me to shake a feeling off, or get me in the right frame of mind or even just to embrace how you feel at the time and ride it out.  


Could you tell me more about the writing process of ‘Duty’? 


Duty just came out of me in an afternoon, I was sat on the end of the sofa with the dog, just tinkering about on the guitar. Funnily enough, I still remember the un- impressed look on her little face now, suppressing every urge not to maul my face off for disrupting her snooze time! I had just discovered the brilliance of Tyler Childers and was trying my hand at a few of his songs, learning a few chord progressions I’d seen on You Tube and just generally keeping myself out of trouble after being told not to make the house a mess again after my lady left for work! It was a song that came to me organically, I played some chords, found a melody, and to me it’s a sung dialogue. Its about whether I had done right and wrong in life in general and the eternal question whether you’ll go up and down when the time comes. It was my first actual song and I’m proud of it. 



What’s been your proudest moment so far in your music career? 


In all honesty, I think it’s the fact I have managed to achieve so much in such a small amount of time. Like I said I started giving the local open mic sessions a go around a year ago and hammered them to death, doing as many as I could. From there I’ve gone onto playing the Bedford in Balham for Live in the Living Room Gives Back, releasing a debut single, securing national radio play, being presented at established Country music festivals / events, being endorsed as HMV’s ‘Artist to Watch’ and having the opportunity to support Florida based artist, Matt Horan. 


If they were to make a movie about your life, who would you cast to play yourself and what would be the opening theme tune? 


The theme tune would have to be “Never Leave Your Guns Behind” by Bryan Martin. Now, who would play me? That’s a really difficult one, but I think it would have to be either Kim Coates or Eric Bana, although the story would be me in my later years. Although a parody would be better with Will Ferrell, he’s the only man in Hollywood that could pull off my curly hair! But he’d probably sing my songs better then I can! 


What’s next for you? 


THE CATALINA WINEMIXER!! Sorry I was still wrapped up in the previous question.  


My new single ‘Black Train’ is being released in April with a follow up EP later in the year.  

I’ve been in the studio recording on a group charity single for ‘Help For Hero’s’ that forms part of the Road to 50K campaign, which is being released globally in the coming months. 

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