So I sat down last week with Jhameel (Via Skype) and had my first official Heycoolkid! interview.
For those of you who may not follow the website closely Jhameel has become a steady HCK! favorite since he put out “The Human Condition” earlier this year. I originally planned to put this up on Tuesday to coincide with his first release from his new project “Waves“. I made a last second decision to run with the new track over on Listen Before You Buy and slated this to come out today since I get the most hits on Fridays and Sundays and really want to get this guy the most exposure possible.
I will say before getting into the interview that I think this novel approach at releasing an album could quite possibly end up being a new model that many artists emulate in the future. It’s a brilliant way to keep people focused on a project and remain motivated about new music from a specific artist.
I truly hope that if you haven’t given Jhameel a chance that you allow yourself a few minutes to get to know the most promising new face in indie-pop.
HCK!- So how has everything been going?
Jhameel- Oh it’s good. Just been preparing for the release next week, and everything’s basically prepared I’m just doing little mixing things here and there to yeah know perfect it.
HCK!- So you’re still working on the songs as they are coming out?
J- Well everything’s completed, I’ve just got a little extra time so I’m just mixing here and there making it a tiny bit better.
HCK!- So you are recording this yourself like you did the last album?
HCK! – Awesome, I like that. The last one turned out really well so I’m exited to see you keep going in that direction.
J – I can show you a little bit if you want
HCK! – Yeah, I’d love to hear it.
[ this is where Jhameel played two incredible samples from the upcoming release]
HCK!- [the second track] is like taking “Bernal Heights” a step forward, reminds me a lot of that song
J- Yeah I learned a lot from that song in particular, that one was really popular so I studied what made it so good and tried to get the best parts of everything into five songs ya know
HCK! – On the last album it seemed like each song had a different vibe to it like each one was distinct, there are very few artist I get that from. Where usually you get just one solid sound throughout the album that’s something I really dug about [“The Human Condition“] EP where I got into “Shut-Up” early on and then as I started listening to the other stuff rather than hearing five more tracks like that each one was different. is that something you go in trying to do or is that just how it came out, is that more of a subconscious thing?
J- Not a lot of people heard my first album but on my first album it wasn’t something I was trying to do. I think what it is, is if you look around my room I have like every instrument just lying around; I’ve got a cello, a guitar, a trumpet, a ukelele, a piano right here, synth, it’s kind of everything at my disposal I’ve been, I’m lucky to have a voice that I can do different shit
HCK! – Right
J – So it comes out that way because I’ve got so many resources I have then I try in a diverse way try to do different things. When I hear an album I don’t wanna here the same slow album. Like in this day and age where we have free music… we have every song we ever created at our finger tips I listen to different stuff all the time. Why not create an album that is completely different every time cause if I won’t listen to it other people won’t listen to it. What I’m trying to do with this series is try to make it a little more diverse in the sense that each one represents a different type of music so one song is like 70’s disco, another is like nineties hip-hop and then I’ve got like a 2000 electro-pop kind of thing and then a metal/eighties prince kind of thing, I’ve got like an acoustic 60’s Bob Dylan-esc song.
HCK! – Nice, You’re still unsigned right?
J- Yeah, there’s been interest but my team and I haven’t had any reason to sign yet
HCK! – Outside of being a performer is sound engineering something you see yourself pursuing down the road, is that something you really enjoy doing or is that just a labor of love for yourself ?
J- Its something that’s a labor of love for myself. So much of the style comes through in production, I feel a huge advantage in there being no communicating between me and a producer. I can make it sound exactly how I want
HCK!- Now do you think that will affect you in the future if you ever have to work with somebody. Do you think that could be an issue maybe, having a vision in your head of it and dealing with the barriers in translation?
J- You know my management is trying to set me up with sound producers,it didn’t really work out because my vision was too specific. I can see myself collaborating with someone on a side project and in a context outside of my own major releases I’m totally open to trying different things. It’s just for the beta releases I want to convey my specific vision but outside of that I can imagine myself collaborating easily with any good producer .
HCK! – Tell me what’s different now as opposed to a year ago before you put out the last album.
J- Okay so the last album I was still figuring it out from all the angles, I was figuring out good music structures that could keep your attention I was very much figuring out the best way to present lyrics, still figuring out the sound engineering portion, it took me a while to like get it perfect in an album. It was a very stressful situation. With this time around it’s like very systemized, I think I’m a much better writer now, better sound engineer, and I got the presentation down. So now I’m free to just be creative with the music. So all the base foundation things are set up so now I can just branch out. I’m really free.
HCK!- What about the time period, have you felt more pressure to put this album out than you did with the last one? I feel like before the last one came out you probably had all the time in the world to create it or did you set a deadline for that one as well?
J- Um yeah the last one I had all the time in the world, and that was kind of stressful cause it means I wouldn’t be happy with myself unless it weren’t absolutely perfect. This time around I did have a deadline but I created it for myself and I new it would completely manifold to be completely happy with the final product,cause so many of the instances that were time consuming are now automated, if that makes sense.
HCK!-it makes complete sense. What are the shows like now as opposed to before, are people starting to come out ?
J- Yeah every single time it’s more and more coming out to see me and ya know the live show is a lot better than it use to be, I got a backing band and we practice all the time, we have a lot of fun and try to just bring out all the passion I wanna put on a vibrant consuming performance. My team and I think the live show is very very important.
HCK!- I feel like of any time live performance is probably more important now than ever if your trying to build a career. Anyone can put out one good song and everyone notices it but if they come to town and you don’t see them deliver it’s so easy to just throw them aside cause there’s so much music out there
J- it’s like the fans put faith in you when you have good recordings and then when you have a bad live performance they lose faith, like i recently saw the godfather, everybody judges me for this,but I recently saw the Godfather for the first time and I remember the scene where the families are all together and the godfather, the original godfather, is like “you all know that I’m a man of my word” right and that was like his enemies believing his word that was like him being dedicated to being a man of his word. So I feel, especially at this early stage, I have a responsibility to not let the hype get bigger than it actually is. There’s a lot of hype but I feel like I can live up to it, but the live show, if I don’t put on a good live show people will lose faith, people will be like well he makes fake shit on production or something to make it sound good.
HCK!- That seems to be the Achilles heal for guys like you who do all instruments and everything, once you get live and you see it you just write it off as well he’s a good producer, he knows what he’s doing, but… Tell me about maybe one bad show that stands out in your mind cause I’m sure that getting to this vibrant live performance it took a lot of work. Is there maybe one experience that stands out in your mind that you keep with you?
J- well uh I use to do a loop station show, I think there’s videos on the internet, it was cool but it didn’t let me express emotion it was… it was kind of pretentious.
HKC! – Really? That’s the way that it appeared to other people or the way it felt to you?
J- The way it felt to me. It was more of an intellectual show than an amusing passionate emotional show. I feel like music is just pathos you know, but to everyone it’s different, but to me I think it should be mostly pathos presented in a good way so as soon as I switched to a band i tried different people out. Now I’ve got a set band it’s just a lot better, but yeah we’ve had terrible shows and but the key is we learn from those shows we’re honest with ourselves, if it’s bad we know it’s bad it makes us try twice as hard and that’s my philosophy with every front; if you make something bad as mistake except it as a mistake immediately, learn from it, study it, force yourself to watch it… we video tape our shows and force ourselves to look at the failures.
HCK!- I think that’s great, there’s a lot of bands I’ve wished would do that. Are you touring now or what’s that looking like in the near future?
J- The plan is to tour over the summer. So we had a showcase, my team and I had a showcase two weeks ago in LA and some of the big booking agencies were there, well they said I wasn’t ready yet so… I think what they’re waiting for is for me to get big enough so they don’t have to work to promote me. which is not smart because then I could just hire someone else.So what we’re going to do is my manager Ryan, he’s going to book a summer tour. He does all the publicity he’s an incredibly smart business man, he’s going to be able to do it, so we’re planning a summer tour no matter what.
HCK!- Hopefully you can make it through Indiana. So let’s get into the new album, originally you planned on releasing it as a one unit and now… explain how that’s going to go over the next few weeks
J- Alright I guess I should tell the story. I originally planned on releasing a ten song album over January. and then it all happened a little less than a week ago, me and my manager, Ryan, we were discussing well is the album still relevant today in the internet world and what we thought about was that I can’t pay attention, when an artist releases an album usually I like two/three songs and then I forget about the rest, like i don’t want to but it happens, and then we thought about well a lot of the good ones get lost in the shuffle so I had this four song demo already out for the industry people, we realized these four songs flow really well I just needed one more which i finished yesterday.
HCK! – Yeah when [Ryan] sent the email over it said you were still working on the songs, since you’ve already set that five week date I thought that was kind of crazy
J- They come together fast. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing it in a five week series. Partly a series because it’s once a week and at the end of the five weeks it turns out to be a cohesive thing. and it’s just five songs which I think is perfect because it’s manageable, there’s no overwhelmingness for you not to listen to the entire thing, it doesn’t get in the way of your life with one song a week. Each song has it’s own artwork which each of the pictures are very appropriate I’m very happy with how they turned out.
HCK! Yeah that’s awesome. What’s one aspect of music you’ve discovered in the last year that maybe frustrates you or upsets you ?
J- Frustrates me? It’s that the music industry hasn’t adapted to the internet yet completely. What frustrates me is that there’s no unifying network. like Ryan has worked really hard for people and blogs to get them to pay attention, he’s done it really well, he’s organized his network in very efficient manner, he talks to every person individually, he’s very personable, so it’s been a lot of hard work it’s been a beautiful challenge and a lot of fun but I think in the coming years we need to figure out, people in the music industry need to figure out, that we need to change immediately like the next step is streaming. We need to accept that people get music for free,
HCK! – It’s almost impossible to go forward without excepting that
J- Impossible. So like streaming is the next step, like Spotify is one, itunes is going to go streaming, I’ve been reading stuff about that too. The frustrating thing is that Ryan and I ,as a team, and Cyndi is also my LA manager, we all as a team want to be progressive but we need to figure out a way to do that without upsetting tradition, it’s a balance between trying to do new things but also having industry people understand. If that makes sense.
HCK! -yeah it makes complete sense
I’ve cut a little from the interview in respect to length and the realization that most of us have a fifteen second attention span. It’s worth noting though that Jhameel did tell me that all the pictures for the upcoming track releases and promotions were shot in his living room.
Here’s the first track “Collision,” it should help you understand why I’m so stoked about this guys music and why his taking the time to sit down and have a conversation for Heycoolkid! meant so much to me.
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