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  • Interview: Unapologetic Queer Country - One on One with James Wilson of The Paisley Fields


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    After nearly two months of communicating, postponing and the patience of a saint, I present to you an in-depth interview with Jame Wilson, lead singer of the alternative-country band The Paisley Fields.

    For our readers who have never heard your music, how would you describe your sound in five words?

    Unexpected, unapologetic queer country music.

    New York isn't typically viewed as the starting place for many country bands; what lead you to discovering and playing country music?

    I grew up in the rural mid-west and country music was everywhere. I moved to New York years ago, and most of our band grew up here, so it's home. Playing country music keeps me connected to my roots and it's important for me to always remember where I came from. There is actually a big country music scene in Brooklyn. It's cool to be surrounded by all these incredible country musicians in the middle of New York City.

    Which artists would you say have influenced you the most? Do you often take inspiration from them in your music?

    Gram Parsons is a big musical influence. I'm really just inspired by the world around me. Anything can spark an idea for a song.

    Being an 'unapologetic' and 'queer' country band must be an interesting experience. What challenges has that brought you and how has that changed you musically and personally?

    It hasn't really changed me musically or personally, but we have run into some hurdles. On one tour in South Carolina the venue cancelled the show on us because they found out that we are queer. They waited until we showed up at the venue to tell us, which was a really shitty way to do a really shitty thing. I think that kind of discrimination is pervasive in parts of this country. It makes me sad to think that queer people deal with that (and much worse) on a daily basis. It motivates me to do what I can to bring about change.

    When writing, do you prefer to base your lyrics around real situations or do you consider yourself to be more of a storyteller?

    I let the song tell itself. When I write I don't normally sit down with a specific concept in mind. I let the ideas flow and hope that lightning strikes. I think the best songs come when I get out of the way and let the muses do all the work.

    What song are you most proud of writing? What was the inspiration behind it?

    'Not Gonna Be Friends' is a song that people really seem to connect with. I guess heartbreak is really relatable.

    Is there one song you wish you had written? If so, how has it influenced your lyricism?

    '$1000 Wedding' by Gram Parsons. It's just a brilliantly written tune.

    You just finished up the Gay Ole Opry Tour. What cities did you enjoy the most? What cities are you looking forward to visiting in the future?

    We had so much fun on the Gay Ole Opry Tour! Every single show and city was different, and I truly enjoyed them all. The standout cities for me were Nashville, Asheville and Lexington. We are playing Nashville Pride on June 25th this year so we are really looking forward to coming back. Nashville is such a fun town.

    What do you enjoy doing during down time on tour?

    Sleep...We have very little down time on tour.

    What are your favorite things to do when you aren't touring/writing/performing/rehearsing?

    I like to spend time with my family and friends. My schedule is so strange that I rarely get to see people. I also enjoy a good book, a horror movie, or some time outdoors in nature when I want to relax.

    Let's say you're performing at your dream festival, what other artists would be there? Any special collaborations?

    So many! Dolly Parton would be a dream. I love the Avett Brothers, Elle King, Kacey Musgraves, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dawes, Brandi Carlile, The Lone Bellow, Sufjan Stevens... I could go on forever.

    Some bands have unique rituals for preparing for a show: is there anything special you do?

    Our pre-show rituals are top secret. ;)

    This question is for the whole band: what is the best thing about being in The Paisley Fields?

    Alex: The best part about playing in the band is the people! It's easy to relax and enjoy the company as well as the music with these talented folks.

    Anna: Choosing one best thing about being TPF is extremely hard because there are just so many aspects of the band that I love! I would say though the best thing is being able to create music with some of my best friends and getting to perform that music out on the road in front of so many different audiences around in U.S.

    James S.: Playing music on the road, meeting new people, and seeing new places.

    James W.: I love it all! We are lucky to have really talented musicians in the group so it's always so fun to play together and collaborate. I love performing and touring. Connecting with people through music is the most rewarding part.

    Speed Round: This or That?

    Madonna or Gaga?

    Madonna (check out James' cover of 'Crazy For You' here!).

    Shania or Taylor?

    Shania.

    George Strait or Hank Williams?

    Hank Williams, although we have a story about George Strait for another time!

    Heavy Metal or Blues?

    Blues.

    Modern or Classic Country?

    Classic country.

    Dolly or Reba?

    Dolly.

    Northern or Southern?

    Southern.

    Sweet Tea or Lemonade?

    Lemonade.

    Sunrise or Sunset?

    Sunset.

    #PopHatesFlops or Google?
    #PopHatesFlops!

    Thank you so much for doing this interview. Are there any final words you'd like to say to our readers and your fans?

    Thanks for talking to us! This was a fun interview. We hope that anyone reading this who hasn't heard our music will give us a listen or watch our videos. We love getting messages from our fans and supporters, so don't be shy about getting in touch! We just released a music video for 'Brooklyn Rodeo', so please share that around! We have a new animated music video coming out in June before our next tour so look for that too!

    We are planning a mini tour of the South starting June 22nd in Richmond. We will be in Richmond at Strangematter on June 22nd and at the main stage at Nashville Pride on June 25th. More dates will be announced on our website soon. :) 

     


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