Singer-songwriter Shayfer James is back, with a moving new single "New York Doesn't Remind Me". Paired with an exclusive photo-set, the new release takes fans on an audio-visual journey throughout NYC, reflecting on love, heartbreak, and the intertwined connection memories can hold to particular locations. An emotive and intimate ballad, the single comes hot off the heels of James' latest EP Hope And A Hand Grenade, released earlier this year. PopMatters premiered the track describing James as a "songwriting tour de force".
"The places I describe in the song are all actual locations where my own love affair blossomed and withered in New York City, making this song deeply personal to me," shared James. “I just thought there was something important about admitting that I was in denial. Admitting that my heart was broken and that everything reminded me of this lost love.”
A piano-led ballad, the track goes on to declare James' anguish in trying to suppress memories from his relationship; from the joyous, love-struck times, to the hardships and heartbreak as the relationship began to unwind. Referencing a number of iconic and local haunts across New York City, listeners follow James on his journey of reflection and remembrance. As his voice cracks, "This is nobody’s fault / God I wish you were here," perfectly evokes the pain of heartbreak and lost love. James has previously self-described that music is a method that "communicates, heals and destroys" - a cycle displayed in full on this release.
Taking the concept a step further, James collaborated with friend and photographer Samantha Tenbroek Mellina, to build a companion photo-set for the song. Producing a stunning series of twelve photographs shot across the city, it further brings the track to life. "She spent a day with me in NYC revisiting all of the places I describe in the song and photographing me," reflected James. Shot on 35mm film with an old Canon A-1 camera created an authentic, one-take challenge that makes the images even more impressive, as new details are discovered in every examination. "Her goal was to capture the spontaneity and permanence I’m describing in the song, so film was the perfect choice. Not knowing what the photos actually looked like until they were developed felt nostalgic and genuine to me. There was no going back and, in this case, no editing in post. I personally feel like my brain is just a bunch of old film in various stages of development and exposure anyway. Samantha played a lot with window reflections and invited actress/models Ines Storani, and Morgan Doelp to recreate some moments with me. It was a magical experience and also cathartic. It helped me reclaim my relationship with the locations, and make new memories. Perhaps one of the most symbolic moments was when we arrived at St. Dymphna’s on St. Marks and it was closed down. It felt like an ending." As he concluded, “I think everyone has or should experience heartbreak. It is gut-wrenching and difficult, but it seems pretty magnificent to me that we humans have this ability to create ghosts for ourselves and choose which memories mean the most to us.”
"New York Doesn't Remind Me" comes as the first new release since James' EP Hope And A Hand Grenade, released earlier this year. Always one to go above and beyond in dedication to his artistic pursuits, James released music videos for five of the six tracks of the record, each with their own diverse and fantastic presentation ("Mercy Down", "Ophelia", "Day Of Reckoning", "Mostly Major Chords", "Crack A Bottle, Run A Bath"). Known for his unique blend of catchy unconventionality, Shayfer James delivers bright pop melodies that are interwoven with gothic-tinged lyrics and emotive vocals, all delivered with a splash of whiskey humor, smart quip, and air of dark charm. He is also focused on altruism and frequently gives proceeds from his music and events to organizations that support civil liberties and help protect the rights people and communities that are underserved in our society; most recently he has supported NJ women's charity The York Street Project, the ACLU and The Yellowhammer Fund.