Stop pigeonholing Ginger St James as a rockabilly performer.
“We don’t always walk around with pompadours,” St James says with a soft laugh.
While there are some rockabilly tendencies at the crux of One For The Money, the second full-length album from the Hamilton-based singer-songwriter—and her appearance certainly can reflect elements of rockabilly style—the album leans more towards country than the current punk-rock manifestations rockabilly is often associated with.
“I’m inspired by the original pioneers of rockabilly, Johnny Cash or Elvis or Wanda Jackson, who were doing it back in the ’50s, late ’40s even,” she explains. “But I don’t feel like we really fit into the current rockabilly culture. My band’s not covered in tattoos—sometimes we use an electric bass. … If we were around in the ’50s, we certainly would [fit that].”
The incumbent punk elements are absent from St James’ music, but they’re replaced with lots of country, blues and and jazz influences that make it difficult to neatly classify her style.
“I feel like we can fit in many genres,” she says. “I think if you’re classified in, let’s say as a blues band, you’re expected to play blues music all the time. I’m inspired by so much music. I don’t want to limit my experiences.”
To that end, St James describes her music in broader terms to better reflect her amalgamation of country, rock and blues: “We’re [a] rowdy, country-rock ‘n’ roll show!”
In order to capture those sundry influences, St James collaborated with a number of people—a first for her—to materialize One For The Money. “Hair of the Dog” sees collaboration with guitarist Snow-Heel Slim, who added a hard-rock flavour to that track, whereas “Honeymoon Stage” is a Patsy Cline-inspired country number, which St James acknowledges is a track she wouldn’t have written on her own but did thanks to the workings of musician Chris Altmann.
That collaboration process enabled St James to “graduate” her songwriting capabilties to a much more evolved stature, she notes.
“It opened my mind to other options on how to write songs,” she says. “Everyone offers something new to the mix, and it allowed me to create songs that I wouldn’t have done on my own.
“It was allowing myself to step out of my comfort zone,” she continues. I’m kind of a private person, even though I perform in front of everybody, but I’m most comfortable when I’m on my own.”