Trained at Trinity College of Music. A composer, multi-instrumentalist and improviser, he has written and performed for dance, theatre, TV, animation and recitals and has conducted music for opera, concerts, TV, films, and CDs.
As a performer he has worked with Deborah Warner (LIFT), Tom Morris (NT, BAC), Struan Leslie (NT, WNO), Melly Still (Lyric Hammersmith), Johnathan Stone (Purcell Room and touring), Julian Crouch, Lizzi Kew-Ross (Laban), Simon Fisher Turner and as a conductor/orchestrator/instrumentalist with The Clod Ensemble, The Cholmondeleys and Featherstonehaughs, Welsh National Opera, Ballet Rambert, Hofesh Shechter and composers Murray Gold (BBC, C4), John Browne (ROH), Paul Clark (NT) and bands The Jazz Cigarettes, The Blue Dogs and Heist (supporting The Fall). James was a founder member of the London Guitar Trio, premiering over 20 new works.
He has taught at Trinity College of Music, Laban, Central School Of Speech And Drama, Universities of Chichester and Portsmouth and for seven years was Associate Lecturer in Theatre Improvisation at University College Winchester.
Recently he has been conducting a choir at Tate Modern Turbine Hall in Clod Ensemble's Silver Swan and conducting Manchester Camerata and playing fuzz bass in Clod's An Anatomie in Four Quarters at Sadlers Wells, Wales Millennium Centre and The Lowry; touring internationally with Hofesh Shechter Company as guitarist and percussionist; performing in Without Warning company; composing for, Theo Clinkard, Charles Linehan, Lost Dog, Flexer & Sandiland, Jameson Dryburgh for Candoo 2, Struan Leslie for The Circus Space, Charlotte Spencer Projects and Joss Arnott Dance. His piece 21Strings was performed by the Trinity String Ensemble, conducted by Nick Pendlebury, with choreography by Lizzi Kew-Ross. He was associate musical director for the world premiere of Here All Night, words by Samuel Beckett, music by Paul Clark at the Brighton Festival 2013 and Arts Emerson, Boston 2016 and was musician in residence for the 2014 Brighton Festival Parade. He has just performed in Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother the Choreographer’s Cut at Brixton Academy, Paris and Hong Kong and internationally in Theo Clinkard’s Chalk and Of Land and Tongue for which he also wrote the score.
Recent compositions include a piece for Lizzi Kew-Ross for string quartet and dancers inspired by the work of Edmund De Waal and Paul Celan, a recreation of two Rudolf Laban pieces with choreographer Alison Curtis-Jones in Monte Verita Switzerland, a new piece for Joss Arnott Dance played live by Dame Evelyn Glennie which she is now performing as a recital piece and music and sound design for Theo Clinkard’s new commission from Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.