Amidst the Australian summer of 1977, having played in various bands
around my hometown Adelaide since age eleven, I found myself one morning
staggering among head-jarring footfalls to the bathroom.
For just 2 legs there certainly seemed a crowd -the ghosts of my counted calendar were saying to me, "go somewhere else and write songs".
I skulked a direct route to my Guild Starfire 3 guitar that lay
quietly in its case observing my every mood and went to London. The unknown
is a merciless predator - I was enchanted by so many songs hunting me down
as I arrived on British concrete.
Three years later, very inspired and rife with songs I came back and
traipsed the concrete of Sydney.
A dear friend, Neil Wright, who I was sharing a flat with was
co-managing a band called GANGgajang. They were in Paradise Studios
recording the first album. All was going well but there wasn't much
happening in the guitar seat.
Across town in Bondi I was mucking around on a Scribble album. Neil
dragged me over to Darlinghurst and I can tell you the wind knows no traffic
lights. The moment I plugged my guitar into GANGgajang the connection was
A lot has happened since... 22 albums. A solo album (and another on the way). Two Skyshows. Orchestral works. A million tours. A book. Many great friends.
Robert James is essentially recognised as a guitarist, songwriter and producer.
With the release of his first solo album "Suzannah Suite", his emotive voice and orchestration skills came to the fore.
GANGgajang : His unique guitar style is evident on the recordings of seminal Australian band GANGgajang. Their song, "Sounds Of Then" (This Is Australia) has become an Australian classic.
His guitar playing has coloured dozens of other albums by Australian artists, as have his songs -most notably several albums by Wendy Matthews. Indeed his song "Homecoming Song" on Wendy's CD "Lily" was the lyrical starting point for the "Suzannah Suite".
YOTHU YINDI : From 2001 to 2005 Robbie toured the world playing guitar with indigenous band Yothu Yindi as well as continuing to tour with GANGgajang.
WENDY MATTHEWS : In the early 90s, Wendy released her first three albums, all of which achieved platinum sales. Robert wrote five songs across these albums and toured on occasion with her band.
The Scattered People ‘choir’ rose out of the Asylum Seeker Centre in Brisbane in 1998. Refugee claimants from various countries use music to create solidarity with one another. Robert has been involved since 2012, writing songs with the group and has produced their new album ‘Sugarmill Road’ due for release November 6th 2015.