Interview with James Duke

Posted by Craig Borlase on 10 June 2014

James Duke (guitarist and founder of All The Bright Lights - an almost lyric-free zone full of feeling and truth) opens up for business...

Craig Borlase: When I hear All The Bright Lights I'm reminded of a guy named Van Morrison - Ireland's equivalent of Bob Dylan, only without the return to form of recent years. Van's got this album from the 80s called 'Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart' and those five words are never far from my mind when I hear your music - or Sigur Ros's, Mum's or some of The Cure's stuff for that matter. But I'm aware that the mumbles that come from my heart are probably different to what you feel when you write/perform/record/hear your music. So... what's the inarticulate speech of your heart that these songs convey?

James Duke: That's a great thought. The whole vision behind All The Bright Lights is that we would be able to do just that. Try to express what we feel in our hearts. I personally have never been really good at talking about my feelings, but when I pick up a guitar I've always been able to express the way I feel. I can play the things I don't know how to say. We are always looking for hope in our music. We are searching for peace with our music. We are praying for our family and our friends in our music.

CB: Without so many lyrics you have less control over what people experience in the songs. How does that sit with you?

JD: Our goal is for people to be able to have their own experiences while listening to our music. We want the music to not only express the feelings in our hearts but give the listener the opportunity to do the same. We try to make a soundtrack for people to live their life.

CB: And what about worship? Is this album a Worship Album - or a worshipful album? Does any of that matter anyway? 
JD: I'd say we definitely write and record from a worshipful place. If a listener can find a reason to worship while listening, that is a beautiful thing.

CB: I have a feeling that you played with Jason Upton for a while. What did you learn from him?

JD: I did. Jason is a great man. He's very caring and generous. He's very encouraging and supportive. Watching him with his family is a very beautiful thing. The relationship he has with his kids is inspiring.  He's always available to his family when he's on the road. He taught me a lot about how to raise my own family.

I learned a lot musically as well. He's got a great sense of melody and that was great to be around. I learned how to fill up a lot of space without really being in the forefront. Just reinforcing what he was doing. I learned how to support a song, which is one of the most important to learn as a musician.

CB: And how do you see the church music today - are you optimistic about things or is there room for improvement? Are we getting close to Amos shouting 'away with the noise of our songs' or are we better than that? 

JD: I am optimistic that there is room for improvement!

CB: What's your position on hymns: best left in the past or can't get enough of them?

JD: I love hymns. I think sometimes we can overlook the value in the old traditional songs. There is something to be said for singing a song that has been sung for so long. They've been floating in the air for lifetimes. Joining in to that is pretty powerful.


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