Singer-songwriter Nemo James remains something of a mystery. In his promotional material, we learn that he turned his back on a successful career as a London session guitarist to concentrate on songwriting, and went on to have a number of “extraordinary life experiences” which he channels into his unique brand of folk music. We’re not told what these extraordinary experiences were, but a little careful detective work online digs up an unusual and revealing fact - Nemo James has realised a memoir entitled Just A Few Seconds, a book which charts the highs and lows of a life spent patiently knocking on the many heavily-guarded gates of the music industry, only to be turned away from pretty much every one.
Nemo James, it turns out, wasn’t always Nemo James. Born Derek Newark, he has performed everywhere from the roughest London pubs to private parties for the ultra-rich. He has owned market stalls and restaurants, taught guitar, squash and karate, lived the jet-set lifestyle one minute and diced with starvation the next. At the end of the day, of course, he’s never given up his dream of becoming a well-known artist, and that in itself deserves respect.
Unsurprisingly, a life this haphazard has given rise to a distinctly poetic songwriting style, a fusion of country, folk and blues which echoes Simon & Garfunkel in its gentle thoughtfulness, its meandering philosophy. The music industry may seem like a monument to mega-stars and rock legends, but it isn’t, really. Look a little closer and you’ll find people like Nemo James, beavering away unnoticed for an entire lifetime, undeterred by the vagaries of fortune and fame.
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