The Prism of James Wallace & The Naked Light

James Wallace’s music wanders off somewhere far above the trees. It explores some other dimension,  collects all the space dust it can, then comes plummeting back down into the temporal to be shared. His music’s been to the future, where it designed UFOs just to mess with us, and it’s been to the past, dancing in the harmonies of a gospel choir. James Wallace & The Naked Light’s ethereal sound has often been compared to Paul Simon or early Kinks, which makes sense because they’re musical cornerstones; but it’s Wallace’s abstractness that catches our ears. It’s a psychedelic easy listening experience that plays around with folk and sends our hearts into a colorful dream.


JWATNL’s most recent release, More Strange News From Another Star, is a great springboard if it’s your first time experiencing their music. It’s both otherworldly and down to earth at the same time. It’s dark, but it’s also really light. Hey, it’s kind of like real life.

Interested in experiencing the fun of this space cadet live? See James Wallace & The Naked Light at Stone Fox Thursday, May 21.

Continue below as we talk to with Wallace about time travel, his favorite parts of Nashville, and what’s in store for the future.

Q&A with James Wallace (of James Wallace & The Naked Light)

What brought you to Nashville? How do you like being a part of the music community here?

Nashville started as a safe place to land for six months after finishing school. I just marked eight years last February, but maybe only six if you count all the time I’ve spent wandering about. Nashville has a way of surprising me and keeping me around. The music community is great for tightness — tightness in friendships and musical skill. It’s a place to make friends and figure out approach, music career-wise. For that, it’s a pretty distilled vibe: know what you want to do, convey it, and have fun.

Do you think it’s any different or special than other musical cities (Los Angeles, NYC, New Orleans)?

Artistically, I don’t think it contains the multitudes of musical universes that exist in NY or LA, and can’t compete with the looseness and hard freedoms of New Orleans, but it’s at least great at sampling all or most of those things at a smaller, manageable pace. My approach is to leave often, fill up with otherworldly things, and sort them out when I return. I’ve been lucky to have a willing cast of talented folks to help me realize this.

What do you like to do to stay inspired and creative? Who are some of your influences, in literature and/or music?

The built in task of staying alive, working odd jobs, following pipe dreams, etc. keeps me on my toes, and inspired. When this suffers, which happens occasionally, without fail, some opportunity to skip town shows up. Influence wise, I’ve spent long hours in my mind trying to figure out how I could help resolve the ongoing feud between David Gilmour and Roger Waters. At this point, I’m sure it’s beating a dead horse. Also, if it’s a book from the ’60s about someone describing their experience riding an UFO, chances are I’m “way into” that cover art.

If you could get into a time machine and be playing music in any era or place where would you pick? Why?

Playing Music? Pretty much right now. Give or take five years, I suppose. If you can get over how many of the greats are already dead or past their prime, or the fear of what impact can be made against the sheer volume of questionable music being produced compared to any other time in history, it’s a perfectly existential time to flap your wings, throw some shit on a canvas and say “hey, I think this is pretty cool,” and watch it dissolve into the ether. In this world, if you can make exactly whatever strange brand of music you wish, and be satisfied, then you’re probably on the path to singularity. Not saying I’m there yet, but that’s the whole point, right? Also, the technology — I need to see where shit’s going from this point on. However, as a spectator, I’d want to be an adolescent in Louisiana in the ’40s with progressive parents. Then bounce between New York and San Francisco for 30 years, trying to keep the party going till ‘77 and the birth of punk.

What’s in store for the future?

I say it often, but while the world is going to end, it still hasn’t happened yet, and I’m pretty sure we’ve still got some good time left. That being said, it’s a good idea to start preparing your mind for the forth dimension. Or consider buying land in Colorado.

Favorite Nashville...

Record shop or bookstore?

Captain Wally’s Time Machine at Robinson Flea Market.

Place for a walk?

Right now I’m really digging that stretch of greenway by the river in Bordeaux.

Something you appreciate about Nashville?

The WPLN talking library. It’s a small radio box only available to the blind in Davidson County, operating a frequency that can’t be picked up by normal radios. Folks volunteer to read news, obits, coupons, and sometimes late at night you can hear a sauced relic of a man slur his way through a dark crime novel. If you ever find one of these at a flea market, buy it immediately and put it in your kitchen for while you’re doing the dishes. It’ll get weird, but roll with the punches. Better yet, go volunteer to read something yourself.

Also, I’m not sure who’s behind this, but I’m way pumped about this new local paper called Huis Clos. Picked it up last Sunday, almost cried tears of joy.


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