The Paisley Fields are a country band based in city where the blue of the sky is snatched from skyscrapers. There is no doubt Brooklyn has more concrete than fields. But the band is unapologetic about pushing boundaries and seeking inspiration in the unexpected.
Singer/songwriter/pianist James Wilson is not the cowboy hat wearing, good old boy one pictures when thinking about country music. The Brooklyn resident and lead singer cuts a different kind of cowboy figure.
Wilson also happens to be a gay man.
In 2010, Wilson spent a year living in Japan and making music with his band Sora Ocean. His time living in the Japanese countryside made him realize he wanted to make a change in his life.
Back in New York, he decided to leave his former band behind and play music full time. Wilson spoke to his longtime collaborator Jessica Kimple about forming a band together, a country band.
Growing up in Iowa, Wilson listened to country musicians like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. Kimple, a trained opera singer and an Iowa native, signed on immediately.
In 2012, The Paisley Fields played their first gig.
“I see myself as coming full circle with The Paisley Fields,” Wilson says. “We are playing country music inspired by the songs I grew up with, and that really brings me back to my roots.”
The band added Anna Volpe to the mix in 2014. Volpe is also a trained opera singer.
“From the beginning, I always knew there was something special about this band,” Volpe says. “The Paisley Fields' music is not only unique, but the lyrics are thoughtful and can strike a chord with any audience member.”
Though Wilson is inspired by country musicians like Parton and Cash, he wanted The Paisley Fields lyric’s to reflect the modern world, particularly his own experience of it.
Wilson penned The Paisley Fields’ song, “Windows Fogged Up” about his longtime boyfriend, now husband, Ryan. The video follows a gay couple as they meet, fall in love and eventually get engaged. The band’s videos have over a 100,000 views on YouTube.
Though Wilson is an award-winning songwriter, he sometimes struggles to write. Almost two years ago, he entered one of those periods. The next day, Wilson began his commitment to write a song a day for one year.
Wilson wrote “She’s No Angel” on day five. The song debuted at #17 on the New Country Releases on the iTunes Charts.
The Paisley Fields’ momentum continues. The group was awarded a sponsorship from Brooklyn Arts Council to record a full length album.
The Paisley Fields’ second EP is due out in August, followed by their first full length album.