Over the past decade, many Carpinterians have become familiar with the iconic sight of a young girl with a pink guitar, sitting at the regular Linden Avenue farmers market and singing her heart out.
Now, that young Carpinterian – then known as Jamey Geston, now as Cecilia James – is 22 years old, and her debut EP, “Different Grounds,” is out for release.
“Most everybody in Carp probably recognizes me as the girl playing the pink guitar on the street at the farmer’s market,” she laughed. “That’s where I started doing music. I took music lessons in Carp.”
Each of the seven songs on the EP tackle the struggles of growing up, of first love and of heartbreak. She wrote each of the songs between the ages of 15 and 20, with a focus on what she calls “moment markers.”
“(The songs) mark my feelings (when) I was going through those ages,” she said. “Each (song) is very special. I’ve formed a close relationship with these songs.”
“(The songs) kind of grazes the surface of what it’s like to grow up, to experience the world and experience love for the first time. (They’re) a reflection of myself and my identity.”
James points to her song “Sonic Baby” as an example of her close relationship with her childhood. The song centers on a conversation between her past, present and future selves.
“The whole EP is about navigating myself through the world, navigating identity, navigating love, navigating these new experiences, and just change, in simpler worlds,” she emphasized.
James said she began recording the songs in late 2016 and completed recording in 2019. She said she “didn’t realize how long it was going to take, and how much I had to mentally prepare for that.”
Her biggest feeling when her EP finally dropped? Relief, she said.
“It’s been so long in the making, and to finally just have it out, and I don’t have to worry about it being out, it’s nice to have that off my shoulders,” she emphasized.
James, a Carpinteria native who attended Carpinteria High School, said she feels close to her roots in Carpinteria; her EP’s music video is filmed at the Alcazar Theatre, a nod to her background.
“I started all of my musical art and endeavors in Carpinteria,” she said. “I definitely feel a very strong connection to this place (…) It was pretty special to be able to incorporate the parts of Carp I grew up in with this project. Locally, there’s just been a really loving, supportive community, and I’m so appreciative of that.”
Her name change from Jamey Geston to Cecilia James came a few years ago, she said. She took “Cecilia” from her middle name, “Cecilie,” and went from there.
“I announced (my name change) about a year ago now,” she said. “It’s kind of like shedding old skin and starting with this new chapter.”