JMC Senior Lecturer, singer-songwriter and producer James O’Brien (Darling James) has recently released a stirring music video for his latest track, ‘Make the Grade’.

The powerful new single, inspired by the recent outpouring of events following the #metoo movement, aims to confront and highlight an important issue within the music industry. Written with a spirit of consultation - female identifying performers and industry members were asked to listen to and comment on drafts of the song, their feedback allowing ‘Make the Grade’ to present a chilling character study of a patronising then aggressive male archetype.  

Accompanying the song is a bold and dignified film clip directed by Domini Marshall in which the song is reclaimed and twisted on its head by the female cast. ‘Make the Grade’ is at times an uncomfortable listen, but an important one.

Darling James has been praised for his furrowed-brow-but-fun take on song writing and production by fellow Australian Artist Kate Miller-Heidke "His songs are consistently surprising, playful and boundary-pushing, but still with an accessible emotional core."

At JMC, we are proud to have lecturers we know have lived and breathed the industry. The real-world experience and knowledge they bring to the classroom in areas like production, touring, live performance and producing assets like music videos are invaluable to our students. The hands-on experience and industry knowledge gained from working with industry professionals is constantly showcased in the work produced by our current students and alumni.

Please note that ‘Make the Grade’ describes aggressive and manipulative behaviour and comes with a content warning.

Watch the video here: 

To learn more about Music Performance at JMC, click here.

About Darling James

No stranger to the Australian music scene, James O’Brien (aka Darling James) 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 Boat People 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.