Jarryd James: Finding a New Light in Music
Words by: Carolyn Lederach
Jarryd James seemingly came out of nowhere earlier this year with his hit ‘Do You Remember’. However, for some who might have known him for awhile, it can be seen as a second wind, and one that has brought Jarryd further than before. Jarryd is a perfect example of how music has a power to change a person for the better, bringing them out of a dark place, and given a chance, can take someone places they’ve never imagined.
I got a chance to chat with Jarryd on a day off in New Orleans, in the middle of his first US tour opening for Meg Myers. Get to know a little more about the man behind Thirty One and such hits as ‘Do You Remember’ and ‘Give Me Something’...
How does it feel to have a song like ‘Do You Remember’ blow up so organically all over the world?
It was really weird actually. It was especially weird for me since I had stopped making music for a couple of years, and then I got back into it and that was the first thing that I released, and you just don’t really expect it. You’d expect it to crescendo into it or something like that, if at all, but it went right into it so I didn't have much time to prepare. I’m not mad about it.
Are you finding a lot of people know the songs already on this tour?
I’m used to playing to people who usually know my music already, so it makes audiences really different. It’s been different to see people open up to it, and it’s been surprisingly pleasant, and really nice. There’s been a couple of shows where there are people who know the songs. Actually, the very first show in Tucson it was packed when I played and the people seemed to know some of my stuff, which was really nice.
Most of the music so far has a very electronic and R&B feel to it. What influences would you say you draw from for your music?
I do make a very conscious effort to not listen to other stuff when I'm writing my own music, and I just push it out of my brain. I guess I try to let everything I’ve ever heard be present in my mind when I'm writing, but not in a specific way and not write in a certain genre. I listen to a lot of different things from The Eagles, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Midlake, En Vouge, and I also listen to a lot of R&B like Usher and Mario, all this stuff from different ends of the scale. So I don’t really know if there are any influences, but others might find it in my music and I think that’s kinda cool.
Since you were in a few bands before starting on this project, what was the transition period like before now? The music now a bit different from past stuff?
The only transition really was that I pretty much gave up on making music all together. I just ran out of energy and resources and all that and just had some really bad experiences, and then I had just stopped all together. Then what happened was I just got really depressed and sad all the time, then I just started making music again cause I had to, kind of out of necessity for my own sanity and that’s literally what started what I’m doing now and I just haven't stopped since about a year ago when I started making music again, but that’s really it.
C: So it’s been like your therapy in a way?
J: Yeah exactly, that’s a very good way to put it.
Your music videos are very cinematic and give a very emotional/visual feel to the songs. Is there any story to those videos/do they tie in at all?
One of my friends who I’ve know for like 10 years, we both understand how each other works. I needed to do a video for ‘Do You Remember’ so I called him up and we had a beer and just talked about it. He knows I like black and white, and very moody looking stuff, and very cinematic. It’s very important to me that what comes first is what you see totally matches and compliments what you hear and what sounds obvious but most people don’t really do that. That was our only real agenda so I just told him to do his thing cause I know he's talented and has a good eye and we just sorta did it based on hearing the music. Same kind of deal with “Give Me Something’.
Do you have an ideal setting for writing?
I try to write every day. I’ve got a mini keyboard on the road, playing songs in between stuff and trying out ideas and see what happens. I’m a big believer in not forcing anything and I think the biggest thing is just having the right mindset and when you know you got it, then you need to jump on it and make the most of that time. It’s a weird alignment of things that need to happen to write something good I think.
What’s your favourite thing about touring in the States thus far?
I just really love seeing the Country. We’re driving a bus and not flying everywhere on this tour. Usually on tour you do a lot of flying and just see a lot of airport and it gets pretty tedious. So its really cool to see all this landscape. When you grow up in Australia you really only see that stuff in the movies, so it’s been super nice.
How do you feel about the American food you’ve come across? Do you have any favourites yet?
There’s always way too much food. I really really love chicken wings/buffalo wings. In fact, I literally just finished eating some before you called. I could eat them every day but I probably shouldn’t. There are a lot of different options in this country. There’s always way too much on the plate.
What something you’re listening to right now?
I just bought a bunch of new stuff. I was listening to Kendrick Lamar, I kinda of always listen to him. A little bit of Kanye. I’ve been going back to a lot of stuff I used to listen to like Weezer, The Eagles, and a little bit of Drake. Drake is actually my guilty pleasure, he’s pretty awesome.
C: Speaking of which, do you have a guilty pleasure song?
J: Yeah...Actually one of them is Jojo. Do you remember Jojo?
C: Oh yeah I do! My one friend and I used to be obsessed with her back in the day.
J: Yeah she’s got that song ‘Little Too Late’ and it’s SO good.
Leaving it off on an interesting note...If the apocalypse were tomorrow, what is the last thing you would do?
Eat some more chicken wings I think. I just wouldn’t stop because there would be no point in stopping. I’d probably just have some drinks and eat chicken wings that’s all.
Catch Jarryd opening for Meg Myers on the US Tour:
13 Oct - Mercy Lounge - Nashville, TN
15 Oct - Grog Show - Cleveland, OH
16 Oct - The Altar Bar - Pittsburgh, PA
17 Oct - Adelaide Hall - Toronto, Canada
19 Oct - The Shelter - Detroit, MI
20 Oct - Taft Theatre - Cincinnati, OH
22 Oct - Metro - Chicago, IL
24 Oct - Fine Line - Minneapolis, MN
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