Graeme James began playing violin when he was 7, hoping to become a classical concert violinist. He pursued this goal throughout high school, as well as branching out into folk and Celtic music, playing fiddle and singing in his family’s folk band, and playing in local and national orchestras. In desperate need of cash to repair his car while on holiday in 2012, James hit the streets of Gisborne, New Zealand, for his first loop-pedal busking session. The response was so positive he was back on the road in two days.
A major breakthrough came later that summer in Queenstown, where he played nightly, busking before crowds of 200–300 by the lakefront. On the recommendation of a fellow street performer, James decided to record an album of his quirky covers. The self-released Play One We All Know (2013) was followed by Play One We All Know, Vol. II the following year. The latter was funded through a Kickstarter campaign that met its $5,000 target in 27 hours.
His debut original album, News from Nowhere (2016), was a finalist for folk album of the year at the 2017 New Zealand Music Awards. A collection of songs written while touring New Zealand, the album drew inspiration from the beauty and immensity of Aotearoa’s famous landscapes. The ensuing tour featured a string of sold-out shows across the country, followed by a summer of national and international festival appearances.