Lawrence Arabia -- the pseudonym of James Milne -- is a connoisseur of classic songwriting, creating timeless music inspired as much by 1970's West Coast Americana as the indie pop of New Zealand's Flying Nun Records. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1981, Milne moved to Auckland in 2002, where he first joined indie pop outfit the Brunettes. In 2004 fellow Brunettes member Ryan McPhun formed the Ruby Suns and recruited Milne as part of his ever-evolving lineup. Taking on bass duties in both bands and completing tours of the U.S. with the Brunettes, Milne returned to New Zealand and gathered together local musicians Jolyon Mulholland, Benjamin Luke Eldridge, and old friend Ryan McPhun to create what would become the Reduction Agents.
At the same time, Milne's alter ego Lawrence Arabia was born. Splitting his time between the Reduction Agents and his solo project, 2006 saw Milne release his self-titled debut album as Lawrence Arabia. A collection of low-key, quirky indie pop songs, the album earned praise in his native New Zealand, but was overlooked by the majority of the music press in the Northern Hemisphere. Moving to the U.K. and setting up home in London's trendy Shoreditch, Milne began writing his second album, financing his move with touring stints with Okkervil River and Feist as well as a job selling homesick expat New Zealanders goods from their native country.
Milne's second album, Chant Darling, was recorded at various locations including Sweden and London, and was finally all brought together on home soil and released in 2009. Milne and co-writer Luke Buda won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Award for the song "Apple Pie Bed" in the September of the same year. As Milne toured throughout 2010, he was writing songs for his third album. He also found time to be a part of Barb, a trio featuring Liam Finn and Connan Mockasin which released a self-titled album that year. In October, he hit the studio with Elroy Finn and Connan Mockasin in Surrey, and began putting the songs on tape. After some overdubs back home in New Zealand during 2011, The Sparrow was finished. Before it released he teamed up with Mike Fabulous to record an album (Unlimited Buffett) later that year under the name Fabulous/Arabia. The Sparrow was released by Bella Union worldwide in July of 2012. The album won critical praise and even a 2013 Tui Award in New Zealand for Best Male Solo Album. His next record, 2016's Absolute Truth, was made in collaboration with Mike Fabulous at a small studio outside of Lower Hutt and released by the fabled Flying Nun label.. ~ Richard Wilson