Band Or Bust: James Sweetnam chats being a newbie on the scene ahead of Round 1 at The House of Machines

James Sweetnam is a singer, guitarist and producer who grew up in Greyton and is now based in Cape Town, making music that blends pop, rock, indie and jazz, and it was a unanimous decision to have him be apart of our Band Or Bust Vol. 2 line-up.

Texx: Give us a bit of background into your band – who are you and where are you from?

James Sweetnam: I am from a small town named Greyton. I came to Cape Town to study humanities at UCT. I was staying in a digs and I befriended a musician who was staying in the house. That year Covid happened, and all the extra time inspired me to pick up an old guitar that was lying around the house. From there my love for playing just grew and grew. I’d always loved music, so it was great to play around with it. I dropped out of my degree and decided to study sound production. I started producing and playing in bands and found this burning hot passion for it. I love every aspect of music and practicing different elements of the craft. I then got an awesome opportunity to tour the country with Afrikaans musician, Tino, as his guitarist. Which was a great intro into professionalism and creativity in the industry.

Texx: In your own words, what kind of music do you make?

JS: I would say that I am a singer-songwriter at my core. When life gets a bit much, just me and my guitar will always be my safe place. It’s the most effective way for me to process emotions. But I have a wide variety of interests in music, and I have some more rocky, funky and RnB inspired tracks on the pipeline.

Texx: Sum up your live show in one short sentence?

JS: My live show is honest. I feel that connecting with people and being myself is my number one goal. But I like to sprinkle in some more upbeat tracks and make some noise too. Letting loose and dancing is a great form of therapy.

Texx: What’s been the highlight of your musical journey so far?

JS: The highlight of my journey so far has been touring the country with Tino. It was such a unique experience, and a great taste of the full time music life. I got to play in front of big crowds and see the country, while improving my guitar chops at the same time. My dream is to do the same with my music.

Texx: What do you think you bring to the Final 6 that makes you stand out?

JS: I think that I bring dynamics. I like to carry the music from lows to highs in my own way. I also like to bring elements from different genres together where I can.

Texx: Which act out of the Final 6 do you rate highly and why?

JS: I only came back to Cape Town recently, so I’m not super familiar with everyone. But I have seen Cinematic Rejects perform before and they rock super hard. I’m really stoked to share the stage with them.

Texx: If you could pick any of the judges to drink with who would you pick and why – and what would you be drinking?

JS: I would like to have a drink with Majozi. I met him before at The Pink Room, and he seemed like a really genuine person. And I’m not drinking at the moment, so I’ll have coke zero. Or maybe a kombucha if I’m feeling naughty.

James-Henry Sweetnam takes on The Cinematic Rejects at The House Of Machines this Friday 7 June at 9pm.