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About James Nye

James Nye is a writer and composer based on the Isle of Wight.

He studied music at the University of Surrey, completing dissertations on the music of Thelonious Monk (1987), and Vic Hoyland (1989), and becoming a Master of Music in Analytical Musicology in 1989. Whilst at Surrey, he was twice co-winner of the Joyce Dixcey Award for Composition, and his work transcribing and analysing the music of Thelonious Sphere Monk was recognised when he became the first recipient of the Peter Whittingham Award.

As a composer and performer, he has been active in many fields. His 1990 composition Always Know was selected by the Society for the Promotion of New Music for workshop performance at Music Nova where he was befriended by John Cage. He co-wrote and performed on a couple of tracks for the Mercury Prize nominated album Sunshine Hit Me by the Bees, and has written music for theatre productions at the National Theatre and Almeida.

As a writer, he has contributed articles to Fortean Times, Gneurosis, the Wire and other magazines and websites.

His interview with Ken Campbell was the beginning of a long friendship, during which Campbell asked him to act as researcher, consultant, and sometimes composer on many of his award-winning one man shows and other projects during the last couple of decades of his life.

Projects with Campbell include transcribing and editing one-man shows Pigspurt, Jamais Vu and Violin Time for publication; research for Jamais Vu, Mystery Bruises,  Knocked Sideways, Violin Time, A History of Comedy, Part One: Ventriloquism, and Ken Campbell’s Meaning of Life; consultation for tv documentary series Reality on the Rocks and Brainspotting; research for Whores of Babylon and Joey Grimaldi, King of Clowns; and music for Mystery Bruises (Almeida) and A History of Comedy (National Theatre). In 2004, James Nye directed a film of Ken Campbell’s penultimate one-man show, Ken Campbell’s Meaning of Life – A Letter to Robert Anton Wilson, which will be re-issued on DVD in a memorial version in 2011.

More recently, James Nye has been working on completions and continuations of sketches left by composer Erik Satie. Some of these are available on the CD Erik Satie: Autour des Nocturnes which was produced in collaboration with Jamie Crofts and Professor Robert Orledge. James Nye was also a guest speaker at the 2010 Satie Study Day at Gresham College, London. A further CD of rare and “new” Satie material will be recorded late in 2011.

Current projects include Chain Ferry Soundscapes – a sonic celebration of the Cowes-East Cowes chain ferry (or floating bridge), one of the last of its kind in the UK – and a new version of David Gascoyne’s radiophonic poem Night Thoughts. Amongst many writing projects, James Nye is also working on a surrealist project in collaboration with veteran monster raiser, musician, painter, writer, mentalist and bon viveur Tony ‘Doc’ Shiels. James Nye is a distant cousin of writer Simon Nye.

James Nye’s Soundcloud

James Nye’s Facebook



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  1. BB Wolfe / Apr 9 2011 6:26 pm

    Questions, questions: Did you meet “Doc” Shiels through Ken Campbell? I always wondered why “Distant Humps” never really came off; Shiels puts it down to a run of bad luck; I wondered if it was the result of two unpredictable boozers cancelling each other out. Is the project you’re working on the shady shenanigans referred to as “The Case”? Can you elaborate . . . ?

    • thefrogweb / Apr 10 2011 7:44 am

      I met Tony Shiels at the first Fortean Times UnConvention and was introduced by Ken. I have been involved in The Case, but the project is something else – basically an exchange of surreal letters, like a game of tag. Old age and naughtiness have caught up with Doc, and he and his wife have been battling illness, but he’s still the same in spirit as he ever was. Two extreme boozers – two very dominant characters . . . I’m not sure what the problem was with Humps, but it was a shame it didn’t really work out.

      • BB Wolfe / Apr 10 2011 1:23 pm

        Glad to hear he’s still The Wizard. I don’t know exactly what The Case is about (as I’ve never been personally aquainted with it), but I get the impression that individuals both for and against magical thinking are involved (e.g. “skeptics” vs.artists) — and maybe not for the same reasons. Another Case-head, Jon Downes, has just re-issued Monstrum! and I know his CFZ had plans for another Shiels book — but will it ever be written? I wonder. I heard Doc burned the manuscript of his memoirs a couple of years ago, practically on the eve of publication. I’d like to see some more writings from him, but I dunno if that’ll ever come about. I hope so . . .
        It’s a pity you can’t get the old bugger on DVD.

      • thefrogweb / Apr 13 2011 8:21 am

        Yes, it would be great to read more of Tony’s writings. He told me there is also a book planned in collaboration with Irish mentalist Keith Barry, and someone was planning a biography at some point. The aim of our collaboration was for me to record Tony reading his bits, with a possible radio broadcast in mind, which would mean a trip to the Emerald Isle. I hope I can do that – it all depends on time and money, and whether he holds out against increasingly serious health problems. I think he finds everything pretty difficult these days. If I can film him at the same time, I will do so.

  2. Chris Cooper / Apr 24 2017 6:11 pm

    Hi James, this is an off-the-wall question, you mention “Stephen Nye”, is that the same Stephen Nye who was in Denver back in the 1980s? I’m trying to find him in regards to a piano concert he conceived back in 1981 (that I played in). Thanks!

    • The Frogweb / Apr 25 2017 4:51 am

      Hi Chris. Sorry no, my brother is not the same Stephen Nye as the one you are trying to find. Unfortunately, although the Nye surname is moderately rare, there are quite a few with the forenames James and Stephen, so plenty of opportunity for confusion!

  3. Paul / Nov 27 2017 7:24 pm
    • James Nye / Nov 29 2017 5:07 am

      Thanks for drawing it to my attention. I hadn’t heard about it – looks like a brilliant, worthwhile project – and funny too!

      • Paul / Nov 29 2017 11:23 am

        A couple of days left to add to the funding. Unfortunately I’m flat broke but I’ll give something. The director tells me: “Keep an eye on the page in the next couple of days as I have been considering setting up an offer on the screening. The film will be entered into festival submissions and then will appear online at some point. The film itself is a short documentary running at about 22 minutes but includes sections on his theatrical times and Fortean exploits.”

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