What’s there not to like about James Mackenzie? There’s a charm, enthusiasim and personability about him that you can find hard to resist. After a brief time away from the area, James has returned to Inverness, “back for good”, we believe.
It’s clear that he is pleased to have made the move back to the area “ it feels great to be back in Inverness, amongst my family and friends.” However whilst there is some familiarity , there have also been some changes and James is very keen to promote his new band, and this time it is not “James Mackenzie” or “James Mackenzie and …..”. No, this time the band have a name that stands alone, and has a name that has a strong sense of the “like it or loathe it” normally reserved for a yeast based spread, in Love Civilian.
James explains “It’s difficult to say where the name came from. I wanted to have something different”, which unarguably he has achieved. With further thought and added poignancy he adds “I think Love Civilian suits the sound of the band. I suppose you could say that, by definition, a civilian is “not professional”. None of us have a clue what we’re doing when it comes to love. It can change in an instant.”
The band itself has some similarities with his previous bands with Andy Davidson, Chris Gorman and Calum Chisholm returning to the fray, but being added to by James Reid. However the style has changed, with James describing it as “hard pop” and a far more collaborative approach ; “ [it] has a full band input with everybody’s influences and musical tastes coming together.”, although some things don’t change “ I still want to focus on big vocal harmonies and anthemic songs.”
Echoing an almost tangible sense of enthusiasim’ he considers what pushes the band forward;“Our main drive is the fact that we all enjoy what we do and we use so much energy on stage. Every gig is as exciting as the next.”.
There is no doubting James’ experience , despite only being 27, and I was keen to draw out what he has learnt from his time in music; “I think if you want to make it in music you’ve got to be hard-working, extremely professional and get the “good guys” on your side.” Essentially he identifies the need to balance his own enthusiasm without coming across as arrogant “Enjoy what you’re doing but don’t shove it in people’s faces. Let your fans find you.”
His next appearance in Inverness is at The Eagle on the 7th of December and finds him sharing the bill with a relatively new name in the area in 15 year old Glaswegian singer songwriter Emily Middlemas. James describes her as “a huge talent for such a young age. She isn’t just another run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter, she’s got something quirky and cheery about her. Her songs make sense and are ridiculously catchy. She’s going to go a long way with the right support.”
Catch the Love Civilian debut along with support from Emily and Chris Gorman at The Eagle on the 7th of December.