Lazy Habits rapper James Collins won't get lazy

Lazy Habits’ James Collins (fourth from right) with (from right) Ross McDouall, Tomas Sansbury, Philip Good, Jozef Berk, Simon Dobson and Benjamin Thorpe will be performing in Singapore for the first time. -- PHOTO: DREAM ACADEMY
Lazy Habits’ James Collins (fourth from right) with (from right) Ross McDouall, Tomas Sansbury, Philip Good, Jozef Berk, Simon Dobson and Benjamin Thorpe will be performing in Singapore for the first time. -- PHOTO: DREAM ACADEMY

Hip-hop band frontman James Collins co-wrote a short film and says writing screenplays is similar to rapping

He has made a name for himself as a rapper fronting British hip-hop band Lazy Habits, but James Collins is also taking his word-weaving skills beyond music and into the realm of film.

He co-wrote drama/fantasy short film The Man Who Walked On The Moon, which has been shown at film festivals around the world and was released last year.

"I think it's a natural progression from being a rapper," the 37-year-old says in a telephone interview from Taiwan, where Lazy Habits are on tour, ahead of their first show in Singapore at Henderson Industrial Park next Friday.

"Rapping is very descriptive and can have hundreds and hundreds of words. I just felt the transition into writing screenplays was quite natural."

Lazy Habits are the headliners at the upcoming multi-act gig titled The Revolution Will Not Be Televised at Henderson Industrial Park. Also on the bill are home-grown acts including rapper Shigga Shay, soul singer Michaela Therese and The Sam Willow's Benjamin Kheng.

The seven-member Lazy Habits from Hackney in East London have been getting rave reviews for their unique sound, which mixes hip-hop with New Orleans-style jazz, big band music from the 1950s and funk.

Dance music magazine Mixmag hails them as "one of the most exciting live acts to come out of London in some time", while music websites such as Sputnikmusic praises them for producing "some of the most vibrant and cutting-edge music you are likely to hear out of the UK music scene".

Besides tours and appearances at music festivals such as Glastonbury, Bestival and Secret Garden Party, the band also released their eponymous album in 2012, which reached the Top 10 of the British iTunes hip-hop charts.

The band's name, Collins says, was inspired by a quote by Albert Einstein, which goes: "The person who reads too much and uses his brain too little will fall into lazy habits of thinking."

Collins used the name as a solo act six years ago before expanding the line-up to become a band.

"The name was something to remind you that, if you had a name like that, then you have no excuse if you're still lazy. Being lazy will get you nowhere."

They are hard at work putting the final touches to their sophomore album, The Atrocity Exhibition, set to be released next month or in April.

The fans who turn up at their show here will get a chance to not only hear the new songs played live, but to also buy the album early as Collins says they will bring a few copies to sell at the gig for $15.

The title of the new album, he explains, was borrowed from a 1970 collection of stories by acclaimed British author J.G. Ballard, which also inspired Collins' lyrics.

"It's his ability to write about dystopia and the human condition, they're fantastic stories. (In) the climate we live in today, where we have so many troubles across the world, I do believe that music is the greatest way to hold a mirror up to life and let people understand and see what is going on."

The band have also filmed a music video for the lead single from the album The Breach, featuring rising Welsh actor Taron Egerton, star of the recent British-American spy film Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Collins' love of film has also had a huge influence on the way the music is shaped in the new songs.

"We have on the album a lot more strings than we had on the first album," he shares. "We're trying to create something cinematic, something really quite wide that you might expect to hear on a film soundtrack."

dinohadi@sph.com.sg