INTERVIEW: Sunset Boulevard's James Meunier discusses his new From the Heart album & HIS personal #StageFaves

29 Nov
Posted in: Videos Interviews
Author: Staff
James Meunier's new album

James Meunier, currently appearing in the UK tour of Sunset Boulevard, has just released his new solo EP James Meunier, From The Heart. We caught up with James to find out more about the album, how he fell in love with musical theatre himself, and which other #StageFaves have inspired him. Be sure to also check out James' video trailer...

What made you fall in love with musicals in the first place?

I think it was listening to the original cast recording of The Phantom of the Opera in the car (on tape!) when I was little - the one with Michael Crawford. I also remember my parents playing Michael Ball recordings as well, and then we went on a trip to the West End every once in a while to see Les Mis & Phantom and lots of other shows and I just fell in love with the whole thing. I never quite thought it would be something I'd be doing when I grew up but I had a sense that I wanted to be in that world - and here I am!

Who is YOUR favourite musical theatre star/inspiration?

Well, it remains as Michael Ball and Michael Crawford! They are two performers who have really honed and perfected the art form and have a clear love and passion for it in their performances. I also love the voices of John Owen Jones and Terrence Mann - any voice with a real emotional quality that engages the listener. There are so many!

What songs have you included in From the Heart? How/why did you choose these songs?

I really went with songs that I enjoy listening to in the first place, and in the second place that I enjoy singing. I always reason that if I enjoy them then the listener will too! They're all songs that speak to me in terms of passion - and most of them are love songs. The songs were recorded at Auburn Jam Studios over the course of six months or so - and I had such fantastic help and guidance from Nikki and Joe Davison who run the studios and are so good at what they do. Joe made original arrangements of nearly all the songs, and would play live with me on the piano and adapt to what I wanted to do with each song.

Some of these songs, like 'Bring Him Home' for instance have been recorded many many times but I didn't want to shy away from that as I always think if a song has been done a lot, it's for a very good reason! So I've really put my stamp on each song and we've played around with the arrangements a little bit while still staying true to the original: that track, in particular, is with guitar and strings which has never been done before to my knowledge and makes a really beautiful combination.

My brother Richard Meunier is an amazing guitarist and actually plays on that track and on another track on the EP called 'Burn For You', which is the only non-musical theatre song on there. Plus we had amazing live string players who made such a beautiful sound, We also have 'Maria' from West Side Story, 'Til I Hear You Sing' from Love Never Dies, 'Take A Chance on Me' from Little Women, the title song from Sunset Boulevard. So it's a mixture of well-known classics as well as couple of personal favourites that I think everyone can enjoy!

What’s been the highlight of Sunset Boulevard on tour so far?

There have been so many! I would actually say the sitzprobe was a real highlight. It's the first time we hear the orchestra (and we have actually a 16-piece orchestra on this tour which is very rare these days), and we sing the whole score like a concert version of the show essentially. We were all just blown away by the sound they made and by everyone's amazing talent in the room. The score is incredible. It really summons up the era of classic Hollywood and is definitely some of Andrew's finest work.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I will be holding a solo concert to celebrate the release of my EP James Meunier, From The Heart at the Pheasantry in Chelsea on Sunday 21 January. It will feature songs from the EP and other musical theatre favourites as well as some fabulous West End guests!

Book your tickets for James Meunier's From the Heart concert here.

You can download the EP for James Meunier, From the Heart via iTunes or order the CD for delivery on James' website

Tags: Albums , Touring