James was born on 18 August 1971in Limerick. In 1996, he said he had a stillborn older brother also named Richard whose name he inherited, though this claim may have been fabricated. He grew up in Cornwall, where he lived in Lanner while attending Redruth School in Redruth. James said he liked growing up there, being cut off from the city and the rest of the world. James has stated that an interest in making sounds developed before he got into writing music, and that as a child he enjoyed playing with the strings inside his family piano and disassembling tapes and tape recording equipment.
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