I worked with bailiffs. It was brutal,” sighs James Page, the man also known as Sivu – when asked to recall how rubbish his life got when he first moved to London. “I hated that stuff! It was really horrible. It was just… shit.”
Reflecting that learning the art of repossession isn’t one of his proudest achievements, James is currently focusing on the happier times lying ahead. With his moniker taken from the Finnish translation of his surname, he’s just signed to Atlantic, who’ve got him working on his debut album alongside producer Charlie Andrew – a guy who’s hugely in demand at present following his work on Alt-J’s Mercury-winning debut.
On paper, it’s a near-perfect mix – James’ fragile and introspective songwriting comes replete with touches of electronica and beats reminiscent of Beck, Fever Ray and Björk at their most forward-thinking. Speaking to Radar while holed up in Brixton’s Iguana Studio, he describes the sessions as “daunting”, but adds that he’s still on course to have the album finished by October and ready for release in early 2014. As for the sound? Expect a balance between the heartstring-tugging beauty of January’s breakthrough track ‘Better Man Than He’ – one of the most uplifting and romantic songs of the year, with a strikingly effective video accompanying it to boot – and the glitchy ambience of his more recent work on the ‘Bodies’ EP. “I like being dead in the middle. If it goes more electronic I tend to say, ‘That’s too far,’” he says of his split personality.
Describing his new, as yet unheard material as “ballsier” and “darker” than his previous work, he seems to be on a quest to push boundaries with Sivu. James uses the word “challenging” when asked to describe the direction he sees his music taking in the future, adding with an air of quiet confidence: “I just know that I want to do something different.”
And if he was given the chance to replicate the supermassive, award-winning success of Alt-J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’, would he grab it with both hands? Sure as hell he would. “What they’ve done is amazing. It’s definitely something I aspire to,” he sniggers. Certainly beats breaking down doors for a living.
Need To Know
For fans of: Beck, Alt-J
Buy It Now: The ‘Bodies’ EP is on iTunes now
See Him Live: Sivu plays various festivals throughout the summer, and supports London Grammar in October/November
On NME.COM: Hear new track ‘Over And Over’ now
Believe it or not: The video for ‘Better Man Than He’ was filmed using an MRI scanner, showing an x-ray of James’ skull. It’s had almost half a million views on YouTube so far