James Birchall aka Rough Fields has been active under said pseudonym since just last year. The release of singles ‘Manila’, ‘Watery Fable’ and most recently ‘You As You’ have caught many ears and has led to a momentum that is slowly gaining speed. James’ use of natural sounds along with an eclectic set of instruments and influences sets up a scene of expansive electronica; which, with the upcoming release of his Harbour Wall EP, has seen his fan base flourish.

You may have seen Rough Fields’ ‘Abu Dhabi’ gain the coveted place of Track Of The Day recently, and as you may have guessed, we like him so much that a few days ago we had the pleasure of questioning this undeniably talented chap.

Plus, we can also offer you an exclusive stream of The Harbour Wall a full 7 days before its release!

Hi James, for any of our readers who might be experiencing Rough Fields for the first time, can you briefly introduce yourself..

Hello. Yes, of course. I'm James, I record and play under the Rough Fields name. It's a reference to a place I spent a lot of time as a kid, and also to the imprecise, randomised recording techniques I like using.

How long have you been working under the guise of Rough Fields? As I assume, from your background that you've been making music in some capacity for many years.

The Rough Fields thing started in 2010. I've been making music under a lot of different names for a long time, but I was getting tired of compartmentalising my output, like "ok, this is a house track so it's going on the new Elias Linn release", or "this is abstract so it's going on the next SS5". I wanted to tie everything in together and start making a bit more sense.

Who inspires you in terms of fellow musicians and/or what inspiration do you take from the world around you?

Musicians who inspire me - loads, so many... I'm not down with the whole moaning about how much music is out there these days - there's so much superb music, it's brilliant. I listen to a lot of lo-fi stuff (Maria Minerva is a semi-permanent fixture on my stereo, finding out about Not Not Fun was formative), lots of drone and dark ambient (Oneohtrix, Fennesz, Sunn O))), Emeralds, Sun Araw...), all flavours of bass and techno (Untold, Sandwell District, Four Tet, Scuba, Mosca...), a lot of modern composition (the new Harold Budd is lovely) and tons of alt. folk/acoustic stuff. If I absolutely had to be buried in a box with a stereo and one record, it'd probably be something by Steve Reich or Gavin Bryars.

In terms of drawing inspiration from the world around me, I think all my music is an expression of something in the world, whether it's a feeling, anger at a specific social problem, a longing for something or an emotion brought about by a location... I get a lot of inspiration from landscapes, particularly remote, rural ones. Not much of that round Tottenham, though. Maybe that's why I'm influenced by those landscapes so much - I miss them a great deal.

I love your use of natural sound in your music, what is your typical writing process?

Thanks! A piece generally starts off as a series of first-take improvisations using stringed instruments, piano, percussion, voice, found objects or whatever's to hand, just to see what comes up. I've usually got a vague theme or a structure or a harmony in my head before I start playing around with it. Once those are down, I can start manipulating them, looping them up, working out what else is needed and which direction it can go, building up the layers. Oh, and I'm sometimes pretty drunk. That seems to be important. But not always.

You're about to release your new EP, The Harbour Wall, what are your thoughts on the way it's turned out?

I'm really happy with, and extremely proud of, the whole thing. The EP basically contains the best tracks from what would have been my first album. The album is coming next year with a lot of material which has been completed since this first batch of tracks was written, but I really wanted to get these tracks out sooner than that. I'd shout at my label for messing it all up, but I run the label. I'm both an impatient artist and a harassed label owner. It's weird. I mentally phone myself two or three times a day moaning about my artistic freedom and asking if my album is ever going to emerge. I avoid myself in Aldi just to sidestep the awkward questions about recoupable expenses.

What are your future plans, will there be a few tour dates to coincide with the EP's release?

Yes! Definitely. We're rehearsing the tracks at the minute, it's tricky because of all the looping and the improv nature of the recordings. It's really hard to explain to people how to play a guitar line when you can't remember how you did it in the first place. However. Rehearsals are going well, and we're hoping to get it together for a gig in late November. Then there's the album in February (if my f**king label get their act together) and a lot more gigs next year, hopefully. I'm DJing a lot, too - that's something I've always enjoyed. Not least because you often have hands free to hold beverages.


Rough Fields’ Harbour Wall EP is available via Bomb Shop Records on the 14th November; for more information visit http://www.roughfields.org.