West End local Daryl James’s professional musical career kickstarted in an unconventional way, which is fitting for someone who lives in this unconventional suburb.

Over the duration of one week, the busker successfully crowdfunded the release of his debut single, 27, a track he describes as an upbeat, gypsy carnival sound. He says the song was inspired by the adventure, freedom and joy he experienced during his travels through South East Asia.

“I wrote 27 as a birthday present for my girlfriend at the time; we were travelling together. I started writing and recording in Laos and completed the song in two weeks, just in time for her birthday in Cambodia,” he explains.
Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Daryl has been playing the guitar since he was nine years old. Growing up, he dedicated his time and energy to playing in a number of bands, touring and performing solo. In 2012, he sold all of his possessions, minus his guitar, and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand, where he travelled across South East Asia and Europe.

“Eventually, my money started running out. My friend lived in Brisbane as a busker, and he suggested I come over here and give it a go. So that’s exactly what I did,” Daryl reflects.

He admits, his first few attempts at busking in South Bank were undeniably nerve-racking, “but soon, I gained confidence, honed in on my act, and things started to happen. Busking changed my world; it was a real journey for me both musically and personally. The fleeting interactions with passers-by; it can be like having an in-depth conversation in an instant. You learn to connect, adapt, and be ignored too! It makes your performance very solid in the end.”

After three years of busking, now with an increasing number of paid gigs, Daryl envisaged recording crowd favourite, 27, and promoted it through a crowdfund campaign online.

“I had just finished reading Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking, for the second time, and I was inspired. I wanted to test the ultimate connection between fan and artist; she talks about `exchanging freely and directly, and trusting each other’. Instead of trying to convince people to buy my music, I gave them a way to simply help create it, if they wished to.”

Darryl successfully raised more than $1300 before diving directly into the recording studio, where he and his three-piece band spent two days recording. “It was so encouraging to see the response, and to realise that there are so many people who do truly believe in me. I feel more connected than ever with my fans, which is how I envision it; communal and interactive.”

His debut single, 27 was launched at the Bearded Lady in early March, where Daryl celebrated with his fans, and fellow 4101 locals. “West End is the reason I fell in love with Brisbane when I arrived. The people are a perpetual inspiration! I love the lifestyle, the conversations, the art and music. People are extremely supportive, a real community. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”