This week sees the release of 10 Years Of Section; a 10-track album that looks back over the last decade of Section beats, celebrates their accomplishments so far and raises money for a very important charity – Love Your Hospital.
Previously a duo, now a solo act, Section is James Barclay and the charity is very close to his heart. As he explained in this previous Album Of The Month feature we ran on him last year, James is a physiotherapist for an NHS hospital in Sussex hospital. It gave him a harrowing front row seat to the impact of covid in all directions; the patients, the staff, the whole institution.
Prior to this turbulent period in all of our lives, James kept his work life and musical life entirely separate. However things got far too personal during those dark years at the start of the 2020s, and his music became an essential coping tonic for life’s challenges in various ways; as a means to generate much needed funds for charitable organisations surrounding the hospital he works for and a vital outlet for his expressions, frustrations and experiences. Three years later James now proudly celebrates the hard work of his day job peers just as much as he does with his musical peers on his label Locked Up Music.
It’s a theme he explores and uses as a framework on his debut album The Fourth Hour, stating at the time: “It’s the legacy I want this to leave; that through some of the most challenging times in my life, and all of our lives, something beautiful can happen.”
Now James is exploring the Section vaults to framework more beautiful situations with 10 Years Of Section. Digging deep into his (and his erstwhile Section co-pilot Nathan’s) creations, 10 Years Of Section features collabs with Flashback, Kumarachi, Dapz and Ikon B and runs the full groove gamut from the most uncompromising, heavyweight Section bangers (Unusual Weapon) to the most subtle, deep and graceful (Bloodheart) and all things in between.
An ideal time to get up to speed on where Section is at and a great way to highlight the essential charity services the UK’s NHS relies on to survive, 10 Years Of Section is available on Bandcamp on a pay-as-you-want basis now. We caught up with James for a little more information…
10 years! How does that feel to look back over such an extensive and consistent project?
I’m extremely proud of what I’ve achieved and now I have children it makes me want to try even harder and challenge myself even more. When Nathan Solley and I started making tunes in 2006 it was purely for me to play them out and at that point didn’t expect much more than that. Nathan and I decided to take it a bit more seriously in in 2012 and we chose Section as our alias and began sending music out via AIM ha! I’ve pushed on as a solo project for the past few years with Nathan always there to help with creative and technical advice.
Take us back to the very first section release. I think it was Out Of The Ether on Digress Records, right?
Correct! Matt Hobin from Digress was one of the first to take an interest in our music and Out Of The Ether was a tune we were really proud of at that time and made us realise that we could perhaps do something with our hobby. I remember playing it out in New York and the reaction was so cool! I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since!
You’ve got a rich catalogue to draw from over those years, how did you arrive at the final 10 tracks you’ve put together for this anniversary collection?
Initially I thought of doing a four track EP but realised that ten made much more sense! I asked Nathan, Ross Flashback and DJ Monita for their help and together we agreed on the final 10. It was important to me that I included collaborations as well as solo projects as the network of friends I’ve made during this journey is as important as the music to me.
It’s an interesting and inspiring concept – as you’ve set the release at a name your price tag and will be donating everything to charity. Tell us about the concept…
I work as an NHS Physiotherapist and pre-Covid I kept music and work separate. During the first wave I release an LP called Locked Up 20 as I felt that I could try to use my music to help support our hospital in a very difficult time. The LP did well and I realised that I can bring both of my jobs together and try to do some good with it. This LP is an extension of that and I hope to be able to get some more money for the charity.
For a hospital to function it requires charity, volunteers and the good will of its staff and service users. I work for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and Love Your Hospital is our charity. They provide finances to help support our facilities and projects that lie outside of core NHS funding to improve the lives of staff and patients. They do great work and it is really important to me that I try to support them where I can and I feel blessed that I can generate some money for them through drum and bass.
What can we expect from Section over the next 10 years?
I realised a long time ago that I can’t stop making/playing this wonderful music. I’m lucky to have the support of my beautiful wife Sarah so I don’t plan to go anywhere! I have started my second album, something that I plan to take my time over and work with as many vocalists as possible. Now my children are older I have been trying to push my DJing, which is my first love and I have been lucky to play a few gigs already this year. Ultimately I just want to make my family and friends proud and if I can add to the rich history of jungle/drum and bass in anyway then I’ll be a very happy man.