"You bring things into existence by not dreaming and hoping but by working your arse off to get there."
If you're not already acquainted, now is the perfect time for you to meet KID BRUNSWICK.
The creative outlet of one Harry James, the last few years up until this point have been spent trying to make the sounds and feelings that exist in his head work out in the open. And it's with the recent release of 'XForever' that aim has become a reality. A thick mesh of punk attitude and pop sensibility, all held in place by a distinct and dark honesty, it's a release made to be resonated with and inspired by. It's also the most confident and cathartic that Harry has ever sounded, and it feels like only just the beginning.
To get to the bottom of how we reached this point, we sat down with the man himself to dissect this exciting new chapter...
So, where did this release, in particular, start its life? And how has it developed over time?
“Four years ago, actually. ‘Bipolar Rhapsody’, ‘Prescription Kid, ‘This Song Makes No Sense’ and ‘When You Were Young’ were all written back then. I was in this really weird place with a girl that I was dating. She was domestically abusive towards me, and I found it quite weird to talk about with my friends because I’m a guy. When I told some people, they laughed. It was a situation that opened my eyes to things. About two months after those situations, I ended it, and that’s when I started writing ‘Bipolar…’. It served as such a cathartic fuck you to everything I’d just gone through.
“I left those songs there, though, for a really long time. But when it came to thinking about writing things for this particular project, I could never finish a song. I had the ideas there, but they never felt complete. Instead of working through that, I decided to pick up on all the ideas that I had that resonated with me on an emotional level the most. From the dark to the positive stuff I had been through, I focused on getting the full scale of human emotion into this mixtape. That’s why now, all of the songs sound so different.
“Though the way that I was able to reach that point was from about two years ago when I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what artist I wanted to be. I didn’t know who I was. That’s when I got sober, and absolutely everything changed. I was then able to figure out what I wanted to say. I was suddenly able to walk into a room and not feel social anxiety about talking about myself and not have to drink or take drugs to do that. I had always listened to straight edge bands in my teens. I love Minor Threat. But I had never fully connected with the message because I had never actually been sober. So I started to wonder what it would be like to write a straight edge project for people my age and in my world. What if I could convey that message and ideals to a wider audience through my sound? I realised that I wanted to be the guy who, instead of getting high all the time, talks about real experiences and doesn’t sugarcoat stuff."
“So, I started on this project four years ago without knowing it, and I started on this project six months ago knowing it.”
When such significant life and lifestyle changes take place, it’s one thing to experience them but another to be able to inject them into your art. Though if you find that you can do that when you’re standing right at the bottom, then who knows what you can do when you’re feeling more like yourself…
“Completely. It’s all about clarity and perspective. It changes everything. I don’t like to write songs that are all, ‘Fuck everything’. That doesn’t connect with me. What connects with me is when somebody creates an actual storyline or events within their music. Creating stories and writing from the first-person point of view doesn’t say whether something is bad or good. It simply explains how something feels. I don’t think I have the right to tell somebody what they should or shouldn’t do or believe. I can just say how it makes me feel. So through going through things and then trying to turn my life around in the aftermath has given me more perspective about how I feel. So the songs have just improved because of it.”
The thing is that so much of who you are and what you believe changes when you go from being a teen to an actual adult. And whilst you’re bridging that gap and understand better how to make it through the world, bottling that feeling and progress is the route to creating something extraordinarily personal…
“For me, I know that the reason I am breathing right now is because of the people who were around me during those changes. I still have that support network now, and it’s so helpful when your head is as sensitive as mine. If I ever get stuck within my ego, my true friends will call me out on it and bring me back around. Previously I would have told them to fuck off and leave me be, but now I thank them because I want to keep on improving so much.”
On the sonic side of things, there’s such great control over your influences and inspiration across this release. When it came down to deciding what different levels you want to be functioning at, what was your intention?
“I think it was always ingrained in me. My mum used to say that if you get into music you have to find your own sound. She has said that to me since an early age. I had a musical upbringing too. I was in choirs and toured the world with that, and it all gave me an education on how to follow that advice. So when it came down to me making my own beats, I remembered that as well. I also remembered listening to the likes of ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams and ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ by Aerosmith and appreciating the universal appeal. So the musicality was there, then it was a case of going through so much shit that the emotional capacity was there as well.
“The thing is that I want to be the biggest artist in the world. And what this record has become is the first step towards getting there. That’s because I want to build something real. I don’t think I could ever make something that serves as a viral sensation that comes and goes because the music that I’m making is way too personal. It’s about building a legacy that I can look back on and think, ‘I did a good job’. You bring things into existence by not dreaming and hoping but by working your arse off to get there. That’s what I’ve been doing these past few years, and it’s what I’ll keep on doing.”
What’s it like when you bring other people into this very personal vision and personal emotional purge, then?
"Everything about this project and everybody that I work with has to feel therapeutic. I find it difficult to write or work with somebody if we have talked or connected about something or an experience. Because what we are making is so personal, that can be pretty hard, and I can go in with someone, and it won’t work out. That’s just life. But because I know now exactly what I want to do and how to do it, it’s easier for the people around me in my core team to help me make it a reality."
A lot of that comes from your apparent desire not just to have KID BRUNSWICK be a source of music but also a living and breathing organism that can function independently. To think that you’ve reached a point where eyes are on you compared to the state of doubt and confusion you were in a few years ago is a big step…
"It’s still pretty terrifying now that these things that I’m doing are getting more attention. I craved attention when I was younger, but now I don’t know what to do with it. I’m a bit awkward like that and get a bit nervous about it all. But that’s the thing. I’ve learned throughout this that I’m a very sensitive human being and that’s okay. That’s just who I am. So I’ve got to put on a bit of a face when I go on stage, and channel that same emotion that I had when I was in the studio working on these songs.
"Though when I was going through the tough parts of putting this project together, I would stop and listen to bands like The Smiths and Nirvana and all the other bands who have written lyrics that have connected with me. Even if they made me feel worse than I did, they helped me to discover something about myself and how I was feeling. If I can do half of that with my music, then I know that I’ve done a good job. I just want to return the favour to those artists who helped me. That’s what music is all about, that deep connection.”