Flipped Interview with James Bowers

This is a series of interviews with outstanding male performers from the music scene in Melbourne, Australia. This series is conducted in good faith (with a good sense of humour) to illustrate how gender affects how we, as musicians, are treated. The questions I am asking all of my interviewees are genuine questions which I, or other female musicians, have been asked in interviews (and occasionally, at performances), but with their genders (and related elements) reversed make them more relevant to my current interviewees.

I’m stoked to have James Bowers as the first interviewee for the Flipped Series. James plays with a massive variety of kick-ass bands, including Sex on Toast and The Vaudeville Smash, as well as being my bandmate in Harriett Allcroft‘s group. He has been introduced on stage as a wunderkind (or something like that, if memory serves… ummm… you had to be there), but this doesn’t do justice to the experience of seeing him perform live.

I absolutely recommend it.

He also recently recorded his first trio album in Japan, which should be out very soon

What’s it like being a man in the music industry?

On the whole, it’s been pretty good. Whilst I certainly do have my share of punters coming up to me after shows and expecting me to care about whatever topic they’ve decided we are now going to talk about, it’s probably better than the common alternative that women face of that same bloke giving me a full, unprompted critique of my personal appearance. So, I guess that’s good. It’s also pretty nice having crew/tech not just assume I have no idea what I’m doing. Yeah, overall it’s a decent experience.

Do you think there’s a problem with male representation in jazz?

Yeah, look. It sort of seems that way, hey?

Does your hair ever get in the way when you perform?

Currently, not at all because I’m not really performing at the moment. If I was, it still wouldn’t. I used to have a really stupid long fringe and whilst that definitely did get in my face while I was playing it never got in the way of anything apart from me not looking like a fool… It’s almost as though the people who ask these types of questions… Look, never mind.

Is jazz relevant?

Yes and no. If you mean “Is music informed by Jazz music throughout the last century or so relevant to certain people?” Yeah, absolutely. If you mean “Is any kind of jazz music at all interesting or enjoyable to the majority of people?” Sadly, probably not. I say “sadly” not because I want people to like the things I like, I just think it speaks to a general ironing out of the kinks in a lot of art forms. Music used to be so much stranger and harder to grasp, or at least that sort of music was a little more in the mainstream.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

Great question. I think I’d be a dog. No specific breed requirements but greyhounds always look like they understand some quite profound things about the world so it would be interesting to see if that’s true.

What’s the secret to a great relationship?

(there is no secret, just dont be a shitcunt and be with someone you like)

How do you decide what to wear on stage?

So glad you asked. On the day of the gig I generally leaf through the worksheet or communications and work out how little I can modify my current outfit to comply with the requirements. If this looks terrible, I will continue modifying my outfit until it looks acceptable.
If I’m deciding what to wear I try to wear something that projects the kind of energy I want to be contributing to the music that night.

What inspires you?

When people do things that they are really proud of. When I have good ideas. Awesome artists. Dogs.

Tell me about what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m actually filling up my days with pretty full time work on an exciting new project, tentatively titled ‘not completely losing my mind and falling in to a deep depression during COVID’. It’s going ok.

I’ve got my debut trio album coming out hopefully January next year pending the ability to do a launch show, so give us a follow on the old socials to hear more about that:

[Reposted from Tamara Murphys website]

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