Distraction (Jaymes Young Mix)

Countless times over the past year we’ve alluded to the reemergence of R&B and the redefining of its barriers that’s come as a result. Labeled as a renaissance by some, and molded for a new generation, much of the credit for the genre’s new identity can be given to internet pioneers like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. Back in 2010 when those two artists first burst onto the scene, very little was known about them at the time, yet they ultimately achieved success by letting their music act as their voice.

Emulating the model set by those who came before him, Jaymes Young‘s early offerings came with little to no information about the man himself. There’s a real beauty to that recent strategy however, because it allows us as listeners to judge the artist through the quality of their music rather than any other baggage they may have. Dark Star really allowed us to peer into Young’s soul, but it didn’t really provide us many clues as to who the 22 year old really was. Now that we’ve seen his body of work however, it’s time to get a deeper understanding of the man behind the microphone.

We had an opportunity to sit down with Jaymes last month, and we were able to cover a wide array of topics, ranging from his first tour with London Grammar to dressing up like a gummy worm. Check out what he had to say below.

TMN: Let’s kick things off by talking about Dark Star, which you just dropped in August. That was one hell of an intro to your music. How’s the reception been so far? Has it been overwhelming at all?

JY: In ways it has been overwhelming, and also in ways it wasn’t. I think personally, that was one of those moments that kind of had been a long time coming [for me], where I was putting out a piece of music that I felt strongly about and that I knew was definitely my introduction into the professional world of music. So, in that way, I kind of had high expectations in that I wanted it to do well, but at the same time the response that it received was definitely overwhelming. And I mean, I still wake up sometimes and say that’s really cool that that happened.

TMN: How hyped were you when you found out “Dark Star” made it to the top of the HypeMachine charts?

JY: Well, this is kind of embarrassing, but I had never heard of HypeMachine before. (laughs)

TMN: (Laughs) That’s ok. HypeMachine is more of a blogosphere thing so that’s understandable.

JY: Yeah, and I’m more into blogs now, and that’s such a naive thing if only because I’ve become directly involved with them. But I’m a little bit more aware now, and looking back, it means more, because I know how cool that is.

TMN: Talk to us a little bit about the process that went into that mixtape. Were you at any particular crossroads in your life that inspired the writing process?

JY: You know, I came down to Los Angeles from Seattle to write and I actually really didn’t have an artist career in mind, so I think I kind of actually just started writing music that was a little bit truer to myself, because I wasn’t necessarily worried about releasing it or anything like that.

TMN: That’s cool, because you let it all out through a much more organic process. That way it wasn’t like you were forcing anything, or trying to produce a certain sound.

JY: Yeah, I would definitely agree. I wasn’t trying to force something, I was just trying to take the feelings, the inspiration that I had, and lay them out as a song.

TMN: Let’s take a trip back to the early years, what first drove you to get into music? Do you come from a musical background, and how long have you been singing and songwriting?

JY: Man, it’s been a better part of a decade for sure. I’ve been pretty crazy about playing guitar and writing lyrics basically for 9-10 years, since I was about 14. I guess the first thing that got me into it was boredom to be honest. I had a lot of passion as a young kid, and I didn’t know where to put it. I had a lot of inspiration and ideas and I didn’t really have an outlet, so when I picked up the guitar, it was completely one of those Aha moments. The lightbulb went on in my head, and I literally never stopped from the first day I picked up the guitar.

TMN: Are there any songs of yours that you would say you enjoyed making most, or something that speaks louder to you on your last project than any of the other songs you released?

JY: I would say the “Moondust” song from the mixtape was one of my favorite ones to make, just because the lyrics were a really big deal to me, and that whole song was kind of a big metaphor, and I’m kind of big on metaphors (laughs).

TMN: I guess you kind of have to be as a songwriter, right?

JY: Yeah, it depends on how you feel. Sometimes something direct is the easiest way to say what you want to. It’s kind of delicate. But that song said exactly what I wanted to in the best way possible, and it turned out to be kind of poetic. And even the production was a lot of fun. Producing a song with kind of every sound and every chord that was put down, I was getting increasingly excited by the minute.

TMN: That sounds awesome. Seems like you went through a great process with that one.

JY: Yeah, and it was a quick one. I think that song was pretty much topped off in 48 hours. But it depends. It’s different every time. And I don’t have a set way that I write. It just kind of happens as it happens.

TMN: Listening to your mixtape, we noticed a wide array of different genres. Who would you say your major influences are musically?

JY: I would say as a genre, R&B has had a big influence, but no specific artists. Specific artists would be like Coldplay, Radiohead, Maroon 5, Iron & Wine, Death Cab [for Cutie].

TMN: We know from a little snooping on your Twitter, that your album is set to drop in 2014. When do you get back to the studio?

JY: I get back to the studio as soon as I get off tour, because I live in my studio (laughs). And I have a laptop with me as well, so I’ve been writing on the road.

TMN: That’s awesome. Have you drawn any inspiration from being on the road at all?

JY: I think I have, but to be honest, I think I’ll get more inspiration from coming home and kind of looking back at the tour, and once I reflect on the experience, I’ll have a more realistic view of what I did and what I actually experienced. Whereas right now, it’s just a little bit too in the moment for me to get a clear perspective on it all.

TMN: Yeah, I mean you’re probably constantly moving and have a lot on your mind right now.

JY: Indeed, yeah and I actually came down with a pretty bad cold five days ago so it’s been a little tough.

TMN: Oh, that’s not good at all. I was supposed to catch your show in Chicago a few weeks back actually, but I came down with a cold too myself, so I wasn’t able to go.

JY: Aww man, that’s a bummer. Yeah, it’s going around.

TMN: Let’s talk about some of your live experiences so far. Earlier this summer you were granted the opportunity to play in London for the first time at the well renowned Hyde Park on the same day as the legendary Rolling Stones. Describe what that was like for you:

JY: Well where we played, there were several stages, because it was a festival type setup. I really did not know what to expect; I just had no clue. We didn’t even know where we were supposed to be until we arrived there, and it was a really large setup for someone with my experience, even trying to find the right stage.

TMN: (Laughs) Was that one of your first live performances?

JY: Yeah, not as a musician, but as Jaymes Young, in this project as myself. It was just me and an electric guitar, so there wasn’t a backing band there. It was definitely interesting.

TMN: That’s great. From your first show in London to now touring with London Grammar–they’re another band who’ve emerged over the last year. Have they given you any tips on navigating the industry?

JY: Every band is different, and I would imagine that touring with every band is different. We’ve been pretty close with London Grammar on this tour, and they’ve been very generous to us. They’ve helped us out when we were shit out of luck, and we’ve done the same for them. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that modesty goes a long way, and just being thankful that you’re even able to go do something like this is a really big deal. London Grammar, they’re very humble kids, and it’s really nice to be able to have what I feel like is two very humble bands out on the road together. I don’t feel like that happens very often on tour.

TMN: Yeah, it’s always important to have perspective like that.

JY: Yeah, so I mean as far tips goes, just always be as prepared as possible, and be thankful for every day that you’re able to do what you love on the road, because not many people can do that, let alone do it with any kind of sustainability.

TMN: Ok, we just wanted to end with some fun questions. If your music were an animal, what animal would it be?

JY: (Laughs) I’m gonna try not to pick my favorite animal.

TMN: Yeah, that’s usually what people do.

JY: That’s usually what people do, so I’m going to really try hard not to. If my music was an animal…I don’t know is there a really sexy amazing animal out there in the world that I can possibly choose?

TMN: (Laughs) I don’t know, I’m usually not the type to judge the sexiness of animals.

JY: You know, I’m going to go with a bird. I’m going to go with a type of bird like a hawk, or maybe a nighttime bird, like an owl or something like that.

TMN: We just had one last question. With Halloween right around the corner, we just wanted to know if you’d thought of any plans for your costume yet?

JY: Man, I always do the most boring, uniform costume, so I’m gonna do something different this year. I wanna be like a fucking gummy worm or something.

TMN: A gummy worm?

JY: Yeah, I said a gummy worm. Basically anything ridiculous if I get a chance to. I think I’ll be flying on that day so I won’t get a chance to dress up as anything.

TMN: Well thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule for us today. It was really great sitting down and talking to you. We love your material, and keep up the great work.

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