Iskra Strings is James Underwood – composer, violinist and musical collaborator.
Moving to London to study at the Royal College of Music in the mid ‘90s, Underwood immersed himself in the city’s diverse nightlife, forging a lasting passion for working in, and often bringing together, seemingly disparate musical worlds. He earned his stripes touring extensively across Europe with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. Forming the Iskra String Quartet, he recorded the album ‘Iskra’, featuring pieces by contemporaries Isobel Waller-Bridge, Alex Baranowski and Peter Gregson.
Not content with confining himself to the upper reaches of contemporary classical music, James worked closely with The xx to help them realise their vision on the number one albums ‘Coexist’ and ‘I See You’. He has collaborated with Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens and Maribou State as well as Ólafur Arnalds, Dustin O’Halloran and Michael Price.
His most extensive collaboration to date is with Paul Dixon aka Fyfe, releasing the debut Fyfe & Iskra Strings album ‘Extended Play’ in 2019. Combining contemporary electronics and emotional song writing with James’s dynamic string compositions, the album won many fans at press and radio as well as amongst advertising creatives and music supervisors. The pair have returned to produce a second album due to be released in June of this year, this time inviting some of contemporary pop’s most creative artists to join the project.