Time for Jamie T
EMMA LEE Londoner Jamie T, who plays The Waterfront in Norwich in February, has been tipped for great things in 2007. Emma Lee spoke to him.
“What I really want to play is a minute of silence. Do you think they'll let me do that? I'm going to do it anyway. Who thought it would be a good idea to give me my own radio show?” laughs Jamie T.
He may only be 20 years old, but the Londoner, full name Jamie Treays, is being tipped for great things in 2007. His debut album, Panic Prevention, is released later this month, he's been touted as the new Mike Skinner and his high-profile and influential supporters include DJs Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe.
And on January 15 he's taking over the airwaves for his own two-hour long show on BBC Radio One, where he's planning on making a little bit of mischief.
“Have you ever switched on the radio and there's just silence? It would freak everyone out,” he says.
Although he hasn't yet compiled a playlist, it's likely that it'll include tracks by his major influences - The Clash, Ian Dury, The Jam and Billy Bragg.
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Jamie talks at about 100 miles a minute and is funny, charming, very open (he explains that he recovered from a hangover “about 20 minutes ago”) and confident without being cocky.
It's fun spending time in his world, especially when he does his thinking out loud.
“I'm arguing with myself again,” he laughs after he's made a point and then contradicts himself in the next breath. The question is: is he rock and roll? The answer is no, or maybe yes.
It's hard to believe that at one point he was so crippled by panic attacks that he could barely leave the house. But, as he candidly explains, without going through that he wouldn't be where he is now - as is reflected in the album's title. “I nearly had one this morning,” he says. “But listening to music takes my mind off things. At one point I was almost agoraphobic and I just sat in my room and listened to music and wrote music.
“I found when I wasn't doing anything I was more prone to it. Music was a good escape. But without the panic attacks I wouldn't be the person I am.”
Jamie, from Wimbledon, explains that it was a good, old-fashioned bit of sibling rivalry that gave his musical career a jump-start.
“I was about 14 I think when I started playing the drums. I remember my brother wanted to play the drums and I decided to do it too, to annoy him. But I really enjoyed it. I had about 11 lessons in two years then just stopped doing that, but I kept up playing - I got into playing the bass.
“A few years later one of my friends started a band - basically we wanted to be The Clash. I wrote a few bits and pieces. There wasn't a point where I said 'I'm going to write pop songs'. It was a progression,” he says.
Armed only with his acoustic bass, he played gigs in the backrooms of pubs in Soho and Twickenham and recorded in his bedroom. But don't go thinking that this troubadour is anything like a certain chart-botherer he shares a Christian name with - Mr Blunt.
Mixing up folk with punk, reggae and hip-hop, his sound is fresh. And his lyrics are a snapshot of his world - and that of many young adults - of boozy adventures and getting the night bus home.
“All the music I've grown up with has been about reality. I love hearing songs I can relate to and I hope that people can relate to mine,” he says.
And that has led inevitably led to comparisons with Mike Skinner of The Streets.
“I guess because we're both guys who produce our own music that's a nice box to put me in. But it's not a bad box to be put in,” he says.
Once discovered, Jamie was quickly snapped up by a major label.
“I was playing a gig with a band called Larrikin Love and a guy came up to me afterwards and said he wanted to talk to me about a record deal. He said he'd call me and I was like 'all right, whatever', and two months later I'd signed a record deal. It was quite quick really,” he says. His recent single, You Got the Money, charted at an impressive number 13. He's also supported Blur frontman Damon Albarn's new band The Good, The Bad And The Queen.
Does he get a bit of a buzz out of hearing his songs on the radio and the next big thing proclamations? Not exactly. “I feel a bit embarrassed really,” he says modestly.
t Jamie T plays The Waterfront, Norwich, on Monday February 5, box office 01603 508050 or www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk
Jamie T hosts a show on BBC Radio One on January 15 from 7pm and his album, Panic Prevention, is released on January 22 on Virgin. he single, Calm Down Dearest, is released on Monday January 8.
t www.jamie-t.com or www.myspace.com/jamietwimbledon