WHILST reading Jamie Mathias’ answers…
it occurred to me he must be among the hungriest artists around. He has announced the release of his album, The Great Escape LP, and has been working hard since his E.P. back in 2015. Songs are compelled by the good and bad aspects of love: the capricious nature of life and the experience common to us all. Started a Fire is the album's lead-off single and one I was keen to know more about. Mathias talks about that and his creative inner-workings; which of the album’s thirteen tracks stick hardest in the mind – and what we can expect from the L.P. in general.
He chats about the rest of 2017 and what he is up to; the artists/albums that impacted him hardest – and the reason music arrived in his life.
Hi, Jamie. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m great, thank you…how are you?
This week has been busy as ever: meetings in London, studio-work and promo for the album!
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
So…I am a mid-twenties (teenager at heart) singer-songwriter. If you had to put me into a genre I’d say 'Pop' - but it’s a lot more diverse than that. I like to touch upon a few different styles and I rap a bit, too.
The Great Escape LP is your forthcoming release. What can you tell me about the themes that compelled the songs?
So...the album was initially intended to be an E.P. - that comprised songs that I had written about my girlfriend at the time which covered various stages in the relationship (not just the good ones). It transformed as time went on and includes tracks about my struggles as an artist and other relationships.
Apart from If Only, they are all written from personal experience. Each track tells a story about exactly where I was or how I was feeling at the particular moment it was written. I feel that’s quite important for myself personally because, once I've got something off my chest through writing, I feel much better about it - and I like to be able to look back and be reminded of where I used to be and how things have changed.
Was it quite a hard process recording or a lot of fun? How long did it take to record the album?
I wouldn’t necessarily say recording was a "hard process" - It was a long process though, for sure.
I recorded the bulk of the album with a producer/friend who has other commitments - so it wasn’t just something I could spend three or four-weeks-solid in the studio with him. We had the odd day here and there and then I’d sit on a track for ages and go back with ideas and things that needed changing. I would say my producers did most of the hard work. Once the songs were written; it was down to them to make them come alive.
We did have a load of fun, for sure, and I’d say it probably took around a year to make in total - but that was on-and-off.
There are thirteen tracks on the album. Which ones, would you say, are most personal and stand out in your mind?
The majority of them are personal...however; I'd say Great Escape and Started a Fire are probably the most personal - as they were written when I was not in a good place, mentally, and I poured a lot of my heart out (in those two tracks).
If Only is a very emotional song but I had actually written that for someone – who, very sadly, lost their significant other to brain-cancer at a young age. The plan for that is to release it separately as a single - and split the proceeds between Cancer Research (UK) and the hospice that treated him.
Started a Fire, the lead single, is out in the ether. What was it about the song that made you release it first? What inspired you to write that track?
I think Started a Fire needed to be released first as it’s the song that detaches me from the relationship I was in - and what I needed to get out before I could move on from there. The next single (putting aside the charity one) will be much happier.
The song is about feeling like I had bitten off more than I could chew with the lady I was with; feeling powerless and defeated.
It boasts a memorable and impressive video. Do you like filming videos and how important is the visual aspect of music to you?
Thank you! I’m sure the director will be thrilled to hear that.
I absolutely love being part of the video process: the visual aspect is vital to me. We like to create something that’s thought-provoking and something with an actual story to follow. The videos don’t necessarily follow the exact meaning of the song - but it’s usually an extension of this and a visual representation of my director Jessie’s interpretation.
Who are the artists you grew up listening to? Was music a big part of your childhood?
I was born in the 1990s and Oasis were always on in my house. They’re still an absolutely huge part of my life and there’s never a party where they’re not played at. Michael Jackson, in terms of artistry, is an absolute idol of mine - and gutted I never got to see him live. I’ve always loved listening to music but I can’t say it was a big part of my childhood from a playing perspective. I was a late bloomer into music - as I didn’t start singing, or even know I could, until I was sixteen.
There is richness and seduction in your vocals. Do you work hard on your voice or is it a result of the musicians that have influenced you along the way?
Thank you very much. I don’t think anyone has ever said that to me before.
I work hard in terms of singing A LOT…but I've never been technically trained or even studied techniques - I’ve just found my own way and developed it.
Other musicians, I’m sure, have subconsciously influenced the way that I sing.
How does music come together for you? Do you set time aside to write or do songs strike when you least expect?
Writing songs, for me, is usually something that comes very naturall - especially lyrics. That being said; it’s always best when I’m in the mood for it and there’s something I need to get off my chest. (Not always negative lyrics). Sometimes, when something or someone makes me feel a particular emotion so strongly, I can’t make sense of it properly until I have it written down in a song.
I prefer that kind of songwriting to going in the studio with a blank canvas - and trying to think of something whilst uninspired.
After the album is released, what plans do you have? Will you get a chance to rest before the end of the year?!
I plan to promote it as much as possible and then gear things up towards a tour in January. I have a lot of meetings and a lot of demands from other people to take care of - so rest isn’t really going to be an option.
I’m doing something I love, though, so I can’t complain!
What tour dates do you have coming up?
The only confirmed show is my album-launch on the 29th September at Patterns (in Brighton). I just wanted to throw something to say thank you and to give people the opportunity to hear the new songs live for the first time. There will be a tour planned for January - but I can’t announce anything until it’s confirmed…
IN THIS PHOTO: Ren
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
My favourite artists at the moment are two friends of mine…
The first is called Ren. He’s had a career plagued by illness - but he looks to be on the mend now and he is incredible. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, singer; songwriter, producer and rapper. His wordplay is ridiculous and his first album he did completely on his own - so make sure you check out Freckled Angels.
The other is Dom Kent. He is an exceptional songwriter and guitarist and I've watched him develop from a thirteen-year-old up until now. He’s not the best with social media but his music is amazing - and I’m really looking forward to seeing him bring out a proper release.
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Definitely, Maybe, The Marshall Mathers LP and Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
They’re three absolutely massive records I know front-to-back and they make you feel something - which is exactly what music should do.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
I’m not sure I'm the most qualified person to be answering this question, to be honest, but the main thing I would say is to keep writing and constantly promote yourself. Once you put yourself in everyone’s eye-line; you don’t want to drop out of it.
In an ideal world; great music would speak for itself - but it’s what you do after the records have been made that is equally, or perhaps even more, important.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Oasis – Rock ‘N’ Roll Star
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