James Rees


James Rees, originally from the West Midlands and now based in Essex and London, is a multifaceted artist and educator. As a singer-songwriter, producer, and passionate advocate of the DIY approach, James embraces self-imposed limitations as a catalyst for creativity. His debut E.P., Normal People, recorded entirely on cassette tape in 2023, showcases his commitment to a lo-fi, authentic sound.

James has independently released six singles and one E.P. on his own label, Broken Leg Records, demonstrating his dedication to creative control and artistic integrity. Alongside his music production, he creates his own music videos, including a stop-motion animated video for his debut single, Circles, in 2020. Circles received support from BBC Introducing, and James has since gone on to perform at Glastonbury Festival in 2023.

With over a decade of experience in music education, James is a passionate and experienced educator. He currently serves as the Associate Dean of Music Production at BIMM University. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and holds a BA Honours degree in Music Technology and Popular Music from the University of Huddersfield, as well as an MA in Songwriting from the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.

James is inspired by ‘do-it-yourself’ artists, including Paul McCartney, and recently presented a conference paper with Daniel Green at the International Beatles Symposium hosted by Liverpool Hope University, highlighting McCartney’s work as a DIY artist and producer on the McCartney trilogy.

The Normal People E.P. 

"Normal People" is the debut EP by James Rees, released in March 2023. Created in collaboration with his friend Dan Green, the project embodies the DIY ethos, drawing inspiration from artists like Mac DeMarco and Paul McCartney. Recorded entirely on a Tascam 424 Mkiii Portastudio cassette recorder, the EP eschews modern digital tools to capture a raw, authentic sound.

Inspired by old Beatles recording tricks, the analogue approach involved techniques such as ping-ponging tracks and using vari-speed to achieve the desired effects.

The project began as a way to foster a collaborative learning culture between James and his students, allowing him to experience the challenges faced by them during their studies. The EP features contributions from Lucy Bernstein (vocals) and David Hornberger (cello). The EP's release was supported by a one-off live performance at The Harrison in London in March 2023.