Darling James

Darling James is the moniker of Melbourne-based songwriter James O’Brien. Originally used as a vehicle for songs pieced together in late night bedroom recordings while touring as a sideman for other acts, O’Brien quickly developed the idea into a full time project complete with a blistering four piece live band.

No stranger to the Australian music scene, O’Brien has delved into many projects since he first came to attention with seminal Brisbane-come-Melbourne indie darlings The Boat People. With O’Brien as co-frontman and songwriter the group had eight triple j high rotation singles from three acclaimed albums that also made their mark on Los Angeles’ KCRW and the UK’s Radio 1. The Boat People travelled to the U.S. no less than six times (playing SXSW twice) toured the UK multiple times and played on home soil at the likes of Big Day Out, Woodford Folk Festival, Valley Fiesta, Sunset Sounds and support slots for artists such as David Byrne, The Shins, Powderfinger, Crowded House, Washington, Tim Rogers and Augie March.

Beyond this list, O’Brien co-wrote and sung YesYou’s breakout radio hit ‘Half Of It’ in 2011 and worked as side man in the much-lauded Machine Translations with whom he has toured nationally multiple times. Working as bassist for Kate Miller-Heidke, O’Brien performed at Splendour In The Grass and Southbound as well as tours in Australia and overseas.

Late 2016 saw the release of Darling James’ debut E.P. Theory of Mind. First single, the mesmerising, sizzling ‘Ultimatum Talk’, was added to rotation on triple j and has knocked up over 125,000 plays on Spotify. Sold-out hometown shows and interstate tours followed including spots with Olympia, The Church, Dan Kelly and Ella Hooper. Second single ‘The Itch’ was an incessant, stomping trip through fizzing synths, falsetto vocals and O’Brien’s manic pop magic which earned kudos from Wally De Backer (Gotye) and was the number one song on Melbourne’s SYN FM. Third single ‘God’s Graffiti’ featured a mix of exotic instrumentation over a head-nodding dance beat and was promptly added to rotation on Double J.

Now Darling James is ready to release a new collection of songs entitled MOOD EYES. The MOOD EYES E.P. sees Darling James turn up the high-key-pop dial a notch or two while unapologetically showcasing his furrowed-brow-but-fun take on song writing and production. Teaser track ‘Didn’t Get It Right’ is a beautiful slow burn featuring shimmering zither over an ominous synth bass wrapped up in a classic, old-world pop song structure. If this is any indication then MOOD EYES is going to be something truly special.



“It’s as much an aural roller-coaster as it is an emotional one, as O’Brien lays everything out on his sleeve to present a vulnerable, honest, incredibly alluring composition that stands as an exceedingly strong first foot forward and leaves us pretty dang excited to see what’s next to emerge from the fledgling Darling James camp.”
Mitch Knox, themusic.com.au

“This has the clever pop sensibilities and piercing lyrics you’d expect from a guy who was once a part of the criminally underrated Brisbane act The Boat People.”
Dom Alessio, triple j

“His songs are consistently surprising, playful and boundary-pushing, but still with an accessible emotional core.”
– Kate Miller-Heidke

“His debut single Ultimatum Talk hinted at a songwriter and producer extending an already unique and eclectic musical perspective to new discoveries.”
Wally De Baker (Gotye)