Gladius James is a triple-threat musician who sings, writes, and produces his own material. Today, he releases his vibey, slow-burning debut single “Too Bad.” In “Too Bad,” a song about the sex appeal of confidence, he makes a coy and vulnerable entrance with richly harmonic vocals that play off glitched-out, pop-industrial beats.
The track features such come-ons as “I’m about to mess your hair up/Kiss that lipstick off.” “The first thing I think about when I listen to ‘Too Bad’ isn’t the sonics,” he says. “It’s that it has movement. The song is so intense like that, because it came so quickly to me.”
Gladius James is a stealth provocateur who, like Prince, is self-aware enough to expose masculinity’s seeming contradictions—its strength and vulnerability, its passion and tenderness, its liberation and imprisonment. They do apply to his life, but he really sees them as universal forces. “A lot of the problems in the world,” he notes, “start with the psyche.” His moniker, the Latin word for “sword,” follows in kind. He liked how it could also be read as “Glad-I-Us.” The first syllable, he notes, “is strong, and the end is soft. I created a world around this idea: a spiritual warrior that goes into battle with demons to be in peace with yourself.”
Gladius James will release his debut EP, Revelation, in early 2018.