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Party of One: James Arthur

At a time where staying connected is more important than ever, House of Solo has launched ‘Party of One’, a series providing intimate insight into how your favourite artists are dealing with isolation and what we can expect from them during lockdown.

It’s been almost a decade since Yorkshireman James Arthur appeared on our screens and stole our hearts when he won the ninth season of X-Factor. He has since released three studio albums, gone platinum multiple times and his track ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ remains one of Spotify’s most streamed songs ever. He’s now ready to steal your hearts once again with an acoustic release of ‘Safe Inside’ alongside new videos and merchandise with all the profits being donated directly to the NHS Charities Together and SANE. We caught up with him over email to chat about this new project, his mental health and what message he has for frontline workers.  

First of all, how are you? How are you holding up?

I’m actually doing fine. I’m blessed to be able to work during this time. I’ve been writing, making music and being creative. I just feel for those who are struggling badly during this time, and are unable to work. 

What does quarantine look like for you? Who are you sharing your space with?

Alongside making music, I’ve been playing a lot of video games and Play Station, and chatting to mates. I’m sharing my time with Jess, my girlfriend and my cats. I’ve loved being in my own studio. Being creative has killed a lot of time for me.

What have you found most difficult about lockdown and how have you overcome it?

Seeing people dying has been absolutely awful – it really affects you, how can it not.

For me I’ve been trying to curb how much food I’m eating. That’s probably the main challenge. If you see yourself putting on weight that can create bad self esteem so that hasn’t been good.

Going on bike rides has helped to keep fit – along the river – it’s beautiful.

This week you launched your ‘Safe Inside’ campaign, congratulations! What was the impetus behind this decision?

My management and I put our heads together to find a way to contribute and help during the pandemic and we decided to re-release an old song. I recorded it in my home studio and all proceeds will go to NHS Charities Together and SANE. I also shaved my head and gave 5k to the NHS as well!

Why did you choose to support these specific charities?

SANE is a mental charity that I’ve worked closely with for the last few years and I really respect the amazing work they do. I think they are really important and have helped a lot of people.

Front line workers are putting their health on the line to save people – that deserves all of our respect and gratitude.

One of the songs you are releasing is a new recording of your single ‘Safe Inside’. This obviously has taken on new meaning in lockdown but what inspired the track back in 2016?

It was initially about my relationship with my younger sister. I looked after her when her dad left when we were young. I felt I had to step in and fill that void. As she grew up I felt like a father figure. It’s about the worries of parenting in a way – or looking after your sibling.

You created this new song in your home studio. How do you find creating at home compared to in a ‘proper’ studio?

My setup is really good and industry quality. I have basically put together a top notch studio. It’s in an annexe to my house and it’s really big, so there’s not much difference. I guess the only change is that when I’m at home I can create at any time which is really good. 

The campaign will also include a ‘Safe Inside’ hoodie. Is this your first foray into fashion and what was the process like for you?

It’s a gateway into more merchandise. Jess [his girlfriend] is a stylist – and she’s really into designing clothes – so she designed the hoodie. It was built off the back of our idea to design ‘quarantine clothing’, like loungewear. It’s still something we’re talking about pursuing! 

This week is mental health awareness week. How has your mental health been affected by COVID-19 and what message would you like to give to your fans who are  currently suffering more than normal?

It’s ramped up by health anxiety, which is normally not great anyway. But I know as long as I’m indoors that I’m gonna be ok. I would encourage all of my friends and fans to be strict and listen to the advice and stay inside.

What music have you been listening to to help you through lockdown?

Sam Fender, I love his music. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Machine Gun Kelly.

Aside from the support evidenced through ‘Safe Inside’, what message would you like to give frontline workers?

A big thank you for everything you do and all your hard work. They’re putting themselves at risk for the sake of others. It’s amazing.

What lessons have you learnt from COVID-19 and what will you be taking forwards into life after lockdown?

Not taking anything for granted. I think about how much we are going to appreciate the things we had before like going to the cinema or out for dinner, basic stuff. Also I think I’m going to cherish my health a lot more as I won’t be worried about contracting COVID. I think we’ll all feel more alive. 

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