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Graeme James started out playing violin as a seven year old with the desire to become a classical concert violinist. He pursued this goal throughout high school, as well as playing fiddle and singing in his family’s folk band. It was while at university that he started learning other instruments, the most significant of which being the acoustic guitar which enabled him to start writing and playing his own songs.
However, it wasn’t until he bought a loop pedal in 2010 that everything started to come together. In desperate need of some cash to repair his car while on holiday, Graeme hit the streets of Gisborne for his first ever loop pedal busking session and the response from the public was so positive he was back on the road in two days.
Graeme James: Wellington folk musician off to a flying start with Tui nomination – Stuff, December 21, 2016.
A major breakthrough came later that summer in Queenstown, busking to crowds of 200-300 people. This started to gather what would become a large, loyal and global fan base. On the recommendation of a fellow street performer Graeme decided to record an album of these quirky covers. The self-released album Play One We All Know was released in 2013 followed by Play One We All Know Vol. II in late 2014. Both cover albums have sold thousands of copies.
Graeme had always written his own songs, but it wasn’t until 2015 that he began performing them live and his original material was met with immediate interest from fans. His first single “Alive” was released in late 2015 and ended up placing second in a major international song-writing competition and has gone on to accumulate nearly 2 million streams on Spotify.
Wellington singer Graeme James met wife-to-be while busking – New Zealand Herald, September 23, 2016.
His debut original album News From Nowhere released in September 2016 peaked at number three on New Zealand album chart and number 26 on the Top 40 album chart. It was also a finalist in the NZ Music Awards 2017 Folk Album of the Year. A collection of songs written while touring the length and breadth of New Zealand, the album drew inspiration from the beauty and immensity of Aotearoa’s famous landscapes, and is intensely visual in its writing and sound.