We chat with James Holloway on the heels of his first extended play album, Halfway EP, as well as in anticipation of a new single debuting this month.
There’s one major theme in local James Holloway’s (iamjamesholloway.com) life: West. No, not the Wild West. West Philadelphia, West Oak Lane, West Mount Airy and the West Coast. “It’s my West Side story,” he jokes. It’s all of these places that truly shaped the actor and hip-hop artist into who he is today—as well as what inspired the style and aesthetic of his songs. “The biggest people we had probably were Will Smith and Boyz II Men,” he says of the musical inspirations from Philly that he had while growing up. “Then you move into the early 2000s and it’s Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott and Beanie Sigel. Philly harbors a lot of fantastic talent, so I was absolutely around it. It was in my blood.” The poetic and meaningful lyrics of these artists are reflected in his most recent EP, Halfway EP, released in December. The EP was produced, mixed and mastered by Dino Kararić (DSOUNDS), brought to Soulspazm by Guy Routte and picked up for the duo’s first music distribution deal. In all, the lead single and title track, “Halfway,” evokes a somber tone through the instrumentals. He says, “It just put me into this reflective scope.” Upon the creation of the song, the new father started to echo his thoughts onto paper after hearing the melody, which all circulate around the idea that he won’t be around to protect his son forever. Without the music, the lyrics quite literally emulate a conversation, according to the former London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art master’s student. “If my days are numbered, may they be the fullest? I can’t have it halfway. That is the inspiration for the entire EP. Just being so full and the will to live,” Holloway explains. This month, he’s releasing the second single just in time for Valentine’s Day. Titled “Roses,” the lyrics dive deeper into his perception of love and how beautiful it can be to appreciate that person who you are meant to be with. “I think that Dino did an excellent job with the brightness of the chords within the song,” he says of the overall tone. The Swiss Army knife of performing arts doesn’t stop there, however. All while making music, he keeps his acting career intact with appearances on HBO, Showtime, ABC, NBC, BET and more. And now, he’s developing a comedic feature film he wrote with Trevite Willis, executive producer of the Sundance-winning Netflix film The Forty-Year-Old Version; J. Mallory McCree, actor in Freeform’s Good Trouble; and director Kiara C. Jones of BET and Netflix’s Christmas Wedding Baby.“Fingers crossed that it comes into play and we’ll be able to shoot it in 2023,” Holloway says. “We are in conversations with some really great people. Some are high profile, so we’re just keeping it under wraps for now and keeping our fingers crossed that it really comes to fruition.”
Photography by: SCOTT BURKETT, BURKETT PHOTOGRAPHY