Spurred on by the feedback he received last year, he has recorded another selection of Christmas songs spanning many decades of music.
This album of 12 songs is free to anyone who wants to listen, but he is raising money for prostate Cancer UK. James raised over £1,000 last year and hopes to raise even more this year.
Track number 9, 'Do they Know it's Christmas (Feed the World)', is a collaborative track featuring musicians and singers from across the Faculty.
You can listen to the album here.
We caught up with James to ask him all about his new album and why he decided to record it.
Could you tell us about your musical background? When did you first start playing, and what was your first instrument?
I started playing the piano when I was about 8 years old. My piano teacher was interested in contemporary music and introduced me to electronic music, synthesizers and multi-track recording and I was immediately hooked. I spent most of my childhood trying to emulate electronic musicians of the day like Jean-Michelle Jarre and Mike Oldfield.
Could you tell us a bit about what you do at King’s?
I’m currently the head of the Physiology teaching department, education lead for the School of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and Sciences and the FoLSM PGT assessment board chair. I recently became a Professor of Cardiovascular and Physiology Education on an AEP contract. I run a couple of degree programmes (BSc, iBSc and MSc) and do a lot of teaching on UG and PG programmes.
How do you balance your science career and passion for music? Does one inform the other, or is the music a creative outlet?
I wish I could say that I could allow the two to meet in the middle, but sadly music doesn’t ‘fit’ with my research or teaching career. Music, however, has been part of my life since I first started playing the piano, I even spend a few years working professionally as a producer and engineer. During lockdown I re-discovered singing and recorded over 50 cover versions of pop songs (I even took requests from students and staff).
How did your colleagues become involved in one of the tracks?
If you remember, last year I produced a Christmas album of some of my favourite songs and at the time several people commented that they would like to do something like that. So, this year I called their bluff and invited them to collaborate on a song, the choice of song was, for me, clear (Do they know it’s Christmas (Feed the world)) and once I’d made a basic backing track, I started looking for singers and musicians to collaborate with. We have a lot of talent in the faculty and it didn’t take long for 2 very talented guitarists and 8 singers to come forward. We recorded all the vocals in my lab on the Guy’s campus.
Could you tell us what you’re raising money for and why
My father has prostate cancer so I’m raising money for Prostate Cancer UK.
Do you have any musical plans for the future?
I am currently sowing the seeds for a project for next year where every track will feature a collaborator (or two) from King’s or the wider education and research community.
Desert Island Discs question – you can save three pieces of music from total annihilation. What are they?
The first album I bought was ‘Oxygene’ by Jean Michelle-Jarre. It inspired me to write music. It’s one of those albums that still motivates me to this day and, although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, has certainly been significant in the evolution of modern electronic music. I grew up in the 80s and music from that decade is very important to me, so I’d probably smuggle a Genesis and Depeche Mode track into my bag too.
If you could support any musical act in the world, who would it be?
I’ve done a lot of live performances over the years and have been fortunate enough to work with some incredible artists both in the studio and on stage. However, a dream job would be to work with Paul Simon, I’ve always loved his music and his live shows look like the ultimate music party!