James Arthur, singer of popular song Say You Won’t Let Go, performed Wednesday night at Haus at part of Pepsi’s The Sound Drop concert series.
Arthur debuted songs from his album “Back From the Edge,” his new single “Naked,” and other popular songs like Shontelle’s “Impossible,” George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Pepsi’s The Sound Drop campaign first began in 2016 and was meant to publicize breakout artists and provide them with opportunities to get closer to their fans. James Arthur is the latest to join The Sound Drop team, which has featured artists like Khalid, Alessia Cara, and Tinashe. Pepsi presents The Sound Drop with its partners: Shazam, iHeart Radio, and Viacom. For Wednesday night’s holiday Sound Drop performance, Pepsi treated its guests to signature cocktails boasting the season’s new flavors.
I got to spend a little time with the British singer backstage before his set.
The Knockturnal: How did you get involved with Pepsi?
James Arthur: They got involved with me. It’s quite flattering, really. I believe the premise of this whole thing is to find a YouTuber, Youtube star, or whatever you call it. And they’re supposed to be established, an established artist. And I suppose that the challenge was for them to reinterpret one of our songs. It was a collaboration between all three of us. It was just interesting to have a conversation about music, and for Pepsi to give us a platform to do that.
The Knockturnal: You come from The X Factor, where a lot of your music was fan-based and fan-driven. So in smaller venues like this, Pepsi gives you the opportunity to develop that connection with your fans. What does that mean to you?
James Arthur: It means the world to me, as cliche as that sounds. I’ve just done an arena tour. In fact, I’ve been doing arena shows since the beginning of summer with OneRepublic, and then on my own in the UK. And that was a big leap for us. We were used to doing academies or theaters, and that’s where I’ve really developed my craft as a live artist. I actually prefer to be as close as possible to the fans and to really feel their energy. I’m excited about this tonight. I actually think that you absorb more of the song.
The Knockturnal: Is there anyone that you keep in touch with from your season of X Factor?
James Arthur: We had Ella Henderson supporting us on the arena tour, which was so nice. She’s the real deal. A guy called Rylan (Clark), a big TV presenter in the UK now, he isn’t making music really. And Jahméne (Douglas), the guy that I was in the final with. I keep in touch with everybody, really.
The Knockturnal: I heard you rehearsing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” during sound check. What is Christmas like at home for you?
James Arthur: For me, it’s a reflective period, really. It is nowadays, anyway, since that’s the only time that I get to go home. So I really take that opportunity to reflect with my family. There’s usually a row at some kind over Christmas dinner. Something comes out cold, my mum starts up, someone has a panic attack. That’s the way it is, yeah.
The Knockturnal: What’s next for you?
James Arthur: I just finished the tour, so now it’s about making my next record. Little shows here and there, stuff like this.
The Knockturnal: Are you going to be around New York more?
James Arthur: I hope so. I love it. When I first came, it swallowed me up a little bit. It kind of wore me a little bit. So the last few times I’ve been, it’s been amazing.
The Knockturnal: Are you doing any more music videos?
James Arthur: Yeah, kind of have to. We put ‘Naked’ out without any real plan, just for the crack of it, as I would say.
The Knockturnal: We loved it.
James Arthur: It’s almost like a seasonal thing. It felt like we didn’t have anything else ready. I wrote something with Max Martin and Johann Carson, and it was just like, whoa. We had a gut feeling about this.
The Knockturnal: Are you doing more rock songs?
James Arthur: The rock stuff is where I came from. [The softer songs] are my stronger stuff. Everyone always wants those songs. But I’m like, can I please do some grunge?!
James Arthur’s new single ‘Naked’ is available everywhere now. Be sure to check out Pepsi’s new holiday flavor, Salted Caramel, and keep an eye out for more Sound Drop stars!