James O’Brien is a songwriter, performer and producer. O’Brien has used the pseudonym Darling James since 2015 as a vehicle for the songs he was piecing together late at night in bedroom recordings while also touring extensively as a sideman for other acts.
O’Brien is no stranger to the Australian music scene and has delved into many projects since he first came to attention with seminal Brisbane-come-Melbourne indie darlings The Boat People. As co-frontman and songwriter James 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 6. They travelled to the U.S. eight 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 the likes of David Byrne, The Shins, Powderfinger, Crowded House, Washington, Tim Rogers, Augie March and countless headline tours.
Beyond this list, O’Brien co-wrote and sung YesYou’s breakout radio hit ‘Half Of It’ (Triple J high rotation) in 2011, co-wrote multiple songs on Dan Parson’s successful ‘Firestarter’ album and worked as side man in the much-lauded Machine Translations with whom he toured nationally multiple times. Working as bassist for Kate Miller-Heidke O’Brien appeared on her acclaimed ‘Night Flight’ album and performed at Splendour In The Grass and Southbound as well as tours in Australia, Singapore and Vietnam.
O’Brien has music directed and/or produced three events funded by the Melbourne Fringe Festival including ‘8 First Dates’ in 2014 which featured debut performances of new songs by Ainslie Wills, Angie Hart and Jae Laffer (The Panics) amongst others, backed by Darling James’ live band. In 2016 O’Brien took on a similar role music directing and co-producing the successful ‘Song of Myself’ event at the Malthouse Theatre which featured Ali Barter, Sophie Koh and others.
In 2015 O’Brien released his debut single as Darling James, the hypnotic, sizzling, building ‘Ultimatum Talk’. ‘Ultimatum Talk’ was added to full rotation on Triple J and has knocked up over 100,000 plays on Spotify. Sold-out hometown shows and interstate tours followed including shows with The Church, Dan Kelly, Olympia and Ella Hooper. Second single ‘The Itch’ was lauded by pop luminary Gotye while subsequent release ‘God’s Graffiti’ gained rotation on Double J and was accompanied by an innovative film clip featuring mind-bending split-screen effects. O’Brien’s debut E.P. as Darling James is entitled ‘Theory of Mind’ – a high concept release brimming with ideas and featuring everything from pop hooks to shimmering synths to atonal jazz saxophone. It was closely followed by the collaborative film clip to track ‘Indonesian Cigarette’ shot entirely on location in Jakarta and directed by Indonesian film-maker Japs Shadiq.
As well as his work as an artist and touring musician O’Brien also lecturers in songwriting and music theory at Melbourne’s JMC Academy.
James O’Brien primarily writes and records from a facility built into his home in Coburg, Melbourne.