Jamie Woon, Interview
Interview with Jame Woon
With the post-BBC Sound of 2011 hype that has pushed Jamie Woon up to the stratosphere you would be forgiven for dismissing him as the umpteenth flash in the pan, rushed into the light of the mainstream to capture a slice of the James Blake led pop-dubstep market. In reality, Jamie has been toiling for years after attending the much maligned BRIT School, developing his sound from raw loop-based soul to the bubbling, none-more-hip electronica that formed his debut full-length 'Mirrorwriting'.
He stands now as one of the UK's most exciting artists, one who is a complete master of his craft whether he is wrapped in repetitions of softly-plucked guitars and stuttering beats or constructing some of the most cutting-edge radio-friendly pop around, and also one who is more than willing to talk in great detail about any aspect of his music. Contactmusic.com caught up with him for a lengthy chat in the middle of his recent sold-out headline tour:
Contactmusic.com: So this is your first tour since your début full-length 'Mirrorwriting' came out. How's it gone so far?
Jamie (Woon): Yeah it's been great playing the songs from the record with a full band, but to try and keep the sounds that were important to the record whilst mixing it up a bit, having electronic drums and acoustic drums whilst I trigger some samples and do some looping. I do some solo stuff at the end to, so it's kind of a mixed bag really, like my record I guess!
Contactmusic.com: How've you found playing in a band as opposed to solo, specifically in regards to your use of looping and improvisation?
Jamie: It can take a while to build up an understanding with a band. I've known these guys (the band) for a long time and we've been playing for about six months, and I feel the music has really opened up. I like the idea of using musicians for what they're good at, and letting them influence me and my music. Basically what we've all got in common is that we all like funk, which has been brought into the live show. There's still the essence of the album but its less...fragile.
Contactmusic.com: You seem to be playing a mix of shows and clubnights, then you have a lot of festival dates in the summer. How much does your set change in regards to where you're playing?
Jamie: I'm always aware of the audience, I think you have to be. I try to get a feel of the room and the situation. For the festivals we're working on a few new ideas, theres a lot of shows. Glastonbury, Lounge On The Farm, Field Day, Y-Not...so we'll be looking to bring in something new without completely overhauling the set.
Contactmusic.com: Whilst we're on the subject of changing sounds, I'd like to know what inspired the change in your own sounds. I remember seeing you 3 or 4 years ago and you were a solo acoustic performer working with loops...
Jamie: Sure. I got to the stage where I just wanted to record an album of what I thought were my best songs, as I've been collecting songs for a long time, and been performing live for a while without having anything out. I've always listened to a lot funk and instrumental hip-hop, and I had an idea in my head of how I wanted the songs to sound on record when I was playing them live on acoustic shows. I wanted the vocals to remain the vocal point of the songs, and then I worked in all the grooves and the bass using the software I'd accumulated.
Contactmusic.com: So is the acoustic thing something you want to move away from now, and focus on the electronic side, or would you go back there?
Jamie: I was still playing acoustic gigs whilst recording and producing the album, and selling CDRs of my acoustic stuff. I play a couple of songs at the end of the set acoustically, and I still really enjoying just playing with my guitar so no I don't think its something I want to stop doing.
Contactmusic.com: I'd be interested in knowing what you see as your 'audience'? I guess you've still got a lot of fans from your acoustic shows, and a lot of new ones from your singles that have gotten a lot of airplay?
Jamie: Yeah its interesting, I'm not really sure myself in a way. There seems to be quite a lot of young girls! Students, but there are a lot of people in there forties or just my age. It seems to be quite a broad audience...
Contactmusic.com: Do you think your newer fans have any misconceptions about you? Are they less receptive towards your acoustic stuff at the end of the set?
It seems sometimes a lot of people haven't heard the whole album, they've just checked out youtube videos or heard a track on the radio and decided to come down but I feel the shows have all been really well received. But I don't think its necessarily a negative, if they're going to come and pay £1 2 to see me after watching a video on Youtube instead of being the album. I've put a few things out on Youtube, and you can use it to your advantage. What I love about putting something on there is that it does feel like a release, so much that now it kinda doesn't feel like a release until its on Youtube. It's a great way of getting your music out there.
Contactmusic.com: So closing things off, what sort of things have you been listening to recently, and are there any people you'd like to collaborate with in the future?
Jamie: I've been really getting into Big Boi right now, his Sir Lucious Leftfoot album, and I've been listening to a lot of funk. Gil Scott-Heron. The tour bus has been renamed 'the funk bus', which is where I think my sound is definitely going at the moment. Also Jono McCleery, who has been supporting me on tour and I'll be looking to collaborate with in the future.
Contactmusic.com: Finally, whats your plans for the future?
Jamie: The next single is going to be 'Shoulda' which is the fourth single from the album. Then I'm going to be working on a new EP, which is going to be focussing on my more 'groovy side' and maybe bringing in the funk. I've got festivals up until September and then I'd like to start thinking about making my next record.