The name James Calleo seems to be echoing all over the scene here in Hoboken and Jersey City these days—and for good reason.
The singer/songwriter puts on a yoga and music showcase at Antique Loft, and is appearing next week at a fundraiser for asylum seekers. He has also put a lot of work into his latest single, “Thunderstorm,” which weaves evocative lyrics into well-crafted melodies to produce a tight and moving track.
hMAG recently had a chance to ask Calleo about “Thunderstorm,” and whatever else is on the horizon…
hMAG: What’s the inspiration behind “Thunderstorm”?
James Calleo: About 4 years ago I went to India to do some volunteer work and backpack around for 4 months. The song was drawn up from the isolation of being in a hot room on a hill for 2 months. When it would rain, it would pour and I found myself feeling comforted and connected back home. If anyone is away from the person or peoples they love, this tune could resonate.
h: Where was it recorded, and who worked with you on the single?
JC: Thunderstorm was tracked live at Degraw Sound in Brooklyn. Horns were punched in at Homefront Studios, and the sweet sounds of the keys were put down at Kaleidoscope Sound.
I wanted to walk into the room confident that we could lay down 5 songs in 8 hours, so I got the right musicians. Ty Tuschen played electric guitar, Dave DeRiso on the drums, Declan O’Connell on bass, Eric Finland on keys and the horn section of The Defending Champions. After doing some research I found Sahil Ansari, a Brooklyn local, to engineer and mix the tracks. I ended up doing vocals myself in my ‘studio’ apartment…pun intended.
h: How would you characterize the Hudson County music scene?
JC: There are incredible musicians living behind so many doors in Hudson County. There are plenty of places to perform week in and week out.
I’d like to see some more rooms geared toward original performances like the scene up at the Fox & Crow. Listening rooms are really incredible places and there is a misconception about them. If one goes to the woods for a hike, you are seeking natural creation, the sounds and the silence. As a society we have to get it through our heads that going out for live music, opening our minds and just listening is a really beautiful and meditative practice. A little tangential there…
As for the people in the scene, I attribute my beginnings here to Dave Entwistle at the Northern Soul open mic 6 years ago. He encouraged me to keep coming back and playing and I felt, for the first time, I was capable of performing for a living. It is a very encouraging scene. Lots of people have lots of people’s backs.
h: Where can we catch you in the near future?
JC: Fox & Crow November 10th (10pm-12am) is going to be a really special show. I’ll be with the guys I recorded with breaking down old songs of mine and finding our way through brand new ones. 11/23 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 (11pm) and finally 12/14 at FM. All of these are original sets of music. Every Monday and Tuesday at Real Hot Yoga and Asana Soul Practice for live music and yoga. And a lot of bar/pub gigs in between.