In 2014 Beam worked in collaboration with Madrid based partner, Una Mas Una to place 30 arts and cultural professionals in creative organisations in Madrid for 10 weeks! 

Arts Across Borders was an opportunity for participants to soak up the culture, explore how arts and culture can be used as a catalyst for positive change in creating more sustainable places, gain new skills, knowledge, connections and improve their language skills.

In addition to their work placements, participants also carried out personal projects to support their artistic and career development. The scheme was funded by the European Union’s Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme. A list of host organisations and participants can be found here.

We’re delighted to invite James Jamp who participated in the programme to reflect on the longer term impact of the programme on his creative journey and celebrate the launch of his debut album  Introspective Tales, on the 10 year anniversary of his placement in Madrid. 

James Jamp Blog

Photo credit Katharina Kupri.

A lot has changed over the last ten years. The world has changed, I’ve changed, and Madrid has certainly changed. I still remember boarding the plane in January 2014 to undertake a three month ‘Arts Across Borders’ music residency at Medialab Prado in the Spanish capital. I was very excited but a little apprehensive as I couldn’t speak Spanish. I remember the first day walking around my new neighbourhood, translating information, converting prices, and it was really cold, rainy and grim; not very Spanish huh? I wasn’t prepared for this! However, it was only three months and I knew I would be returning to my warm studio in the UK with a Spanish swagger, ready for the next adventure or gig as us freelance musicians call it.

When I submitted the proposal for my ‘Composers Hub’ project, I thought it would be a good opportunity to live and work overseas again. The status of the programme would also create good networking opportunities and enhance my CV, thus promoting my skills as a musician / producer. As it was only a three-month placement, what could I lose? I’d be back in Blighty in no time.

I had some free days before starting at Medialab so I was able to explore the city, hitting up the cultural sites which included some of the amazing museums and perhaps, the even more culturally rich, bars and nightspots of the old neighbourhoods. I felt like a kid again. Everything was big, new and different. My lack of understanding anything being said made me feel a little disconnected but I liked it. Madrid seemed really inspiring but as my journey unravelled, I soon realised how limited communication was due to not speaking the lingo. Unlike nowadays, when I arrived in 2014, I could go a few days in the city without hearing English being spoken. So, in true Spanish fashion, communication in our common language, ‘Spanglish’ became the norm.

The idea of my ‘Composers Hub’ project was to help Spanish musicians who had suffered the effects of the recent financial crisis, giving them an opportunity to collaborate with me in the composing, recording and production of new original music, which they could then use as a platform to promote themselves. The sessions would be free and the music we created would also be hosted online and could be used to help further their careers in the music industry.

On my first day arriving at Medialab’s prestigious building in the ‘Las Letras’ neighbourhood, it finally dawned on me the size of the project and what I had to do to make it a success. I met my team of creative partners at Medialab who would help me with the logistics, translations and promotion of my project and they gave me the keys to my workspace.

Although I had planned the project before arriving in Spain, I soon learnt that the Spanish do things differently to us Brits! From daily working & eating times to project management and punctuality! The first week involved a lot of meetings. We made some changes to my original plans to allow everyone to be happy and to ensure things would run smoothly. Initially frustrating, it was for the better and I soon learnt that flexibility is the key in Spain. The promotion started and the project quickly gained momentum, catching the eye of many musicians who wanted to participate.

I wanted to include as many people as possible which led to a few more changes but the benefit was a wider network of musicians and the ability to work with a range of abilities, from professional film composers to students looking to further their studies. A week later, the sessions started and I got to work; jamming, creating, recording, learning and developing a range of musical sounds and styles with the participants. As the weeks went on, the music was flowing, the results got better, and the invites to Madrid’s never ending cultural events and parties became more random and bohemian.

Photo credit: Lazarina Kanorva. James Jamp project/ Composers Hub

The early Spanish spring arrived, which seemed like the British summer, and a new social aspect of passing time outside began. The amazing parks (I realised how much I had missed nature after being in the city for two months) and late afternoon social gatherings in plazas & terrazas, accompanied with cañas & tapas, went on late into the night and became part of my schedule. This was a different side of Madrid I hadn’t seen. The sun and warmth created a great back drop to this new way of life I’d accidently created. Aware I was going home soon, I started to play as many gigs around the city as I could. My residency would finish with a showcase of the work composed with my participants, and two separate solo performances of my own material in the main room at Medialab, and frankly, I needed to practice in front of some Spanish audiences! 


In the final month of all the March Madrid madness, I got to work editing and mixing the music from the recording sessions and started preparing for the final event. The team at Medialab informed me that people were still trying to apply for the project and there were enough participants to run a second term, if I would be interested? I immediately said yes, not considering the contract on my flat was due to end in a few weeks, and the band I was playing with in the UK were still waiting for me to return!


I jumped in with both feet and started looking for a new place to live. I changed my flight back to the UK and started making some important calls to family, friends, bandmates and clients to buy myself another three months! The first term finished better than I could have imagined. I delivered a second term of the ‘Composers Hub’ project, repeating the same method but with new participants and we finished in June 2014. But I never got the flight home! 

Fast forward to 2024, and I’m writing this from my apartment in La Latina, not quite believing it’s been ten years living and working in Madrid. For the record, I have returned ‘home’ many times for visits, which is always nice, and has occasionally made me consider returning permanently but I now find myself calling Madrid home more often.

Photo credit: Lazarina Kanorova.

Over the last ten years, I have continued working as a freelance musician & producer which has put me in touch with music types from all around the globe. In 2014, my own music projects, James Jamp (singer-songwriter) & Cogent (electronica) got some attention in Spain. I also saw a demand for my skills as an audio engineer and I started working freelance for a Madrid based music publisher. I continued to network and play endless concerts, recorded & produced a range of international artists. More recently, I have finished a debut album under my James Jamp alias which has been my main music project since arriving in Madrid. Although I had actually played a few gigs around my home county, Northamptonshire to try out some of the songs I had been writing, the ‘Arts Across Borders’ programme helped give me a bigger musical platform and I have since played many more gigs in Spain and Italy.

Dedicating myself to music has allowed me to craft my sound and finish writing and recording my debut solo album. The album has taken a lot longer than planned. Madrid has many distractions, and I have also been proactive working with other local musicians and bands, becoming involved with various projects in the city. Work commitments and life in general always get in the way of creative outlets so there has been a lot of stops and starts during the making of the album. However, I think the pauses between recording sessions allowed me to be more critical of my work, analyse the songs, and make the changes I felt were necessary. Something that doesn’t always happen when working to a deadline. The album features songs with a full band arrangement; the drums I recorded back in the UK with a good friend and long-term music collaborator, Nick Iliffe. I then brought the multi-track’s back to Madrid and used various studios to record all the other instruments and vocal parts. 

A few songs feature some guest musicians but apart from that it’s all me, guitars, bass, keys, vocals etc! An album of self-indulgence! (ha). I then used another studio here in Madrid in 2023 to edit and mix, before sending it to my favourite mastering engineer in the UK to ‘add the sparkles’. A lot of hours, blood, sweat and tears have gone into making the record. Although it’s not a concept album, the songs fit together to tell many stories about my life, during my time in the UK, Spain, and also the transition between the two countries. The album is aptly titled ‘Introspective Tales’ and I am really happy with the finished product.

The first single ‘Go Insane’ was released in November 2023. It seems to have gone down well and has been selling, which I’m grateful for in today’s struggling music industry. Another big change we have seen over the last ten years is the record industry in general. The dominance of streaming platforms nowadays is something I’m still on the fence with. Also, the art of releasing a full album is something that’s slowly being lost due to peoples listening habits. For these reasons, I feel putting out an album is an achievement. The live music sector has also taken a big hit since the pandemic so it’s quite hard surviving as an artist these days. We need all the help and listener support we can get!  

The ‘Arts Across Borders’ programme was obviously the catalyst for this Spanish journey. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity. It has helped both on an artistic and a personal level. I’ve met many people who have moved to different countries and it has taken them a long time to adapt and immerse themselves in their local communities. I was lucky as my project immediately put me in touch with likeminded people. Mostly creative types, mainly locals but people from all over the world. This has really helped create friendships, new networking opportunities and social networks which are really important to sustain a move overseas. 

Rincon de Arte 2018

I feel I have advanced so much, both professionally and personally during my time in Madrid. The programme was also a great learning experience for me. My music and production work has developed, my personal management, and creative thinking skills have certainly improved due to the inspiration gained from such an amazing city / country. My Spanish has also improved thankfully. It soon became obvious that learning the language was an essential part of building a life here. After two years of picking up the basics, I decided to enrol on a course, attended regular classes and study for exams which has helped immensely. 

It’s not all been easy, professional and personal issues always arise and adulting in another country has its challenges. Spanish bureaucracy is a nightmare, and everyday tasks I really took for granted while living in the UK, can be very longwinded here in Spain. Brexit has unfortunately brought many new challenges for Brits living in Europe, and the pandemic was also a difficult time here in Madrid.

Strict lockdowns and all that came with it was almost the breaking point for me, as freelance creative work in Spain completely dried up! The live music scene also got hit really hard. But it’s all slowly picking up again. Most importantly, over the last few years I’ve had the time to focus on my own music and finish the album. As the majority of the album was inspired, written and produced in Madrid, I felt it was fitting to release it on this date. A date that started a new journey both personally and artistically and a day I will always remember.

James Jamp – Introspective Tales will be out on 19th January 2024. Ten years to the day of arriving in Madrid. 


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