Hailing from the ultra-bohemian town of Stroud in Gloucestershire, musician Rhys James has more magic in his fingertips than Uri Geller (and that’s saying something)!
Rhys had never performed, acted or tripped the light fantastic until he landed the lead role in recently shot, soon to smash screens near you, cult film ‘Riot on Redchurch Street’. Since director Trevor Miller called cut on the flick, Rhys has racked-up a host of cracking credentials including a performance at the 1234 festival with band ‘Forms’ and – along with his identikit brother Owen – gained creative control over music in Mr Miller’s film. Rhys “don’t-be-fooled-by-the-cheekbones-I-got” James is one of those irritatingly enchanting people. On first meeting, one assumes he is slightly vanilla, blatantly in a band, wears crotch hugging jeans and has an inflatable ego in his front pocket, but one would be wrong.
After meeting a skin-headed Rhys way back when, i-D online delved into his world of seemingly unmentioned talents. When school rid of him at 16 Rhys taught himself through his remaining years of education crashing into a wall of straight As and an Art Foundation, he busily beavered away in his bungalow, looking out onto a twenties industrial estate. Dip-dyed in “psychedelic 60s style portraits” he had painted, scattered with guitars, music equipment and passed-out friends, Rhys’s room was a haven for him and his brothers’ music-making and producing.
When offered a place studying English at Goldsmiths, Rhys hit London’s gold paved streets, giving way to a ripening relationship with 1234 records and a consequent début acting career. With Rhys and his brother Owen (think twin-like brothers rock the 90s grunge Jedward-gone-off-the-rails look) writing, playing and producing all the music for the This is how we do it behind-the-scenes short, i-D online caught-up with the midas touched musician in between the curling tongs.
The music for This is how we do it‘s ‘making of’ video was written, played and produced by you and your looky-likey brother Owen on the floor of your bedroom, why does it work so well with the video? I thought it had to be upbeat and I wanted it to sound kind of cinematic. But it’s ended up being quite a rough thing to fit in with the whole This is how we do it theme of young people using all the resources they have. I recorded it on the same setup I used as a teenager, it’s homegrown.
What genre would your music stumble into? In the band we play a punk rock setup because we have no money but I think if you make good music then it will have its own genre.
Your début acting role revolves heavily around being in a band, writing the music and performing it. Could you see yourself playing a part where music is not so central to your role? For sure. A lot of the scenes didn’t have anything to do with music in them and they were fun, more fun, in fact than the musical performance scenes, where it was necessary to mime.
What was the first piece of music you made? The first piece that I recorded is the music that my brother and I made with our friend Lucas Garcia on the last day before he moved to Spain. It was about four years ago, we recorded a bunch of jams, I played bass and the others guitars. After that, Owen and I spent most of our time endlessly recording music in my bedroom.
What did you love about it? We just made it and played it once, it sounded just how we wanted it. I love that the drummer Dav Pilkey ran off halfway through saying we were keeping him prisoner and demanding that we let him get a pizza. Then he never returned. I haven’t seen him since.
What quality do you most admire in a man? Balls.
What quality do you most admire in a woman? Dignified slinkiness.