Listen to episode 64 with Jamie Kent & the Options on The Great Unknowns Presents
Every song from Matilda, to Games, Once Again, Isabella, Ama San, NY Lullaby, Snow, and Mama Sing, there is no song that is not short of spectacular. Each song is as enjoyable as the previous.
My hat goes off to Jamie Kent for his vocals, acoustic guitar, and his written work to the outstanding collaboration with Joe Boyle on electric guitar, Bob Laramie on Bass, Rich Adelson on drums, and Bill Holloman on organ, piano, sax, and trumpet.
Grading Jamie Kent, I give a solid five star rating for all five categories: Composition Production Arrangement Performance Hit Potential. Listen to a special music feature with a special appearance by Jamie Kent himself, only on The Great Unknowns Presents
Your debut album is entitled “Neoteny”. What does the name mean?
Neoteny is a scientific word that I discovered while living in the Caribbean in 2008. It means an organism that while physically mature still exhibits adolescent characteristics. I knew immediately it would be the name of my first album.
I love the stories behind your music. How do you come up with your lyrics?
My lyrics are a total amalgamation of real experiences and pure fiction. Most of the time I start writing a tune with a melody or guitar lick. I then how the lyrics emerge out of the music, and run with it from there. I love the challenge of taking a really personal experience and attempting to portray it in a way that many people can relate to. I also just love creating various persona's and developing random stories around them.
What inspired you to create this song? Is it based on a real girl named Matilda?
Matilda is about that best friend you have for a long time and one day you look at her and see her through a whole new light. She was just a friend, but now you know it's going to be more.
Ama San is the story of a Japanese pearl diver who is torn between her passion for the ocean and the responsibilities of life (her husband and newly born child). It's actually one of the first songs I ever wrote (about 8 years ago), and because it has that depth and hits home with a lot of people, it stood the test of time!
You sound a lot like a combination of Jack Johnson, Gavin DeGraw, and Jason Mraz. Did these artists influence you? Who else do you look up to?
I most definitely grew up amidst the sounds and energy of Jack Johnson. But on another sort of level, I've always idolized Frank Sinatra, and his influence has certainly crept in here and there. Also, David Byrne and his work with the Talking Heads completely changed the way I thought about performing and engaging an audience. He is a genius.
Most indie artists just starting out don’t have such talented musicians behind them like you do. Who did you get so lucky to have a great line-up of musicians?
My producer here in Northampton MA introduced me to a lot of the musicians. Since I was young and somewhat of an unknown entity in the area, my producer's word brought them to the table, and my music then kept them here. I'm not going to lie though, sometimes I look around and think to myself, what are these guys doing playing with my goofy ass?
I was reading your bio, and you’ve played in a “mariachi” band? But, your last name is KENT! How did that happen?
Remember that word "neoteny"? Well, when I was a sophomore in high school, there was a huge battle of the bands held at my school. I wasn't in a band at the time, but some friends and I thought it would kick some significant ass to enter as a mariachi band. So with two guitars, a violin, a trumpet, some maracas, and a gong, we hit the stage as "Cinco Gringo". I still can't figure out why we didn't win...
You have a degree in business but, you decided to take the plunge and pursue music. What compelled you to become a musician instead of having a solid career as a business guy pushing papers? Do you think having experience in both music and a degree in business will help your career in music?
Music has been my biggest passion for as long as I can remember. As I approached graduation I began to think, "if not now, when?" I realized now is the time in my life when I can afford to be poor, take risks, and do what I really want to do. While there were times where I really questioned what I was doing, having this experience/education, particularly in entrepreneurship, has been more useful than you can imagine. It's given me the confidence to assess the risks, communicate with anyone, manage my finances, and develop a new model for supporting myself as an independent musician. Speaking of which...
You spoke of “The Collective”. Is this a way for fans to help fund your music or is this something else entirely?
It's a little bit of both. The Collective is a community of my loyal fans who purchase a "Partnership" in my career and receive free music, free tickets to shows, free merchandise, and a voice in the major decisions I make. Partners have access to a protected part of my website where they can check out exclusive media and vote on decisions like where I should tour, what my album artwork should be, etc... Other established musicians have toyed with models like this, and there are websites that exist to fund specific projects (i.e. an album), but I really feel like they miss the community aspect of it all. When it comes down to it, I want my fans to be involved and invested in my career from day one, and reap the rewards from that as things develop! The Collective has allowed me to pursue music full time and I really believe it will allow me to bring this to the next level as well. To get the full skinny on The Collective, check out www.jamiekent.com/thecollective
“Matilda” and “Isabella” are of my favorite songs from your new LP. What song is your favorite and what is your message behind it?
I'd have to go "Games" or "Isabella" myself. Lyrically, Games is one of the most real songs I've ever written. Not complex, but real. And musically, its simply complex. There's a lot of cool stuff going on in the arrangement and chord structure that add a degree of depth to a seemingly simple song. That's what I always aim for as a songwriter, and sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't.
"Isabella" is just so reflective of the start of my career, that it will always be one of my favorites. I wrote it right when I was deciding what to do with my life, and figuring out how I might be happy in a corporate job. I knew that I would love to make up stories about the people I worked with; whether it was the weird guy in the corner office, or the cute girl in a cubicle down the hall. Isabella is that cute girl in the cubicle down the hall, in the job I never took.
What is in store for Jamie Kent?
That's a good question. I'll let you know when I find out. :)
Do you have a tour line up for this year?
I'm constantly playing shows all around New England these days to promote the album, but I'm in the process of booking an east coast tour for the late summer slash early fall. Should take me down to at least Atlanta! Check out www.jamiekent.com/shows for the full down and all the newest gigs.
I can't tell you how much I'd love to tour with some big names, but in all honesty, I'm not really sure how to go about making that happen. I imagine those big names get inundated with requests from nobodys like me everyday!
Are you currently working on any new material?
Hell yeah. I write about 2 new songs a week, and already have the next album in the works! But then again, Neoteny just came out last month...
When can fans expect more music from you?
The next album will likely be out in a year or so, but if you're a Partner in The Collective, there's a pretty good chance you'll hear it before then...
Find more of Jamie Kent:
Jamie Kent presented by The Great Unknowns Presents, Ep 64
Jamie Kent's official website
Follow Jamie Kent on Twitter
Purchase music by Jamie Kent on Amazon.com
05/30/10 Jamie Kent in Red Hook NY at Taste Budd’s Cafe, 12pm (solo show)
06/04/10 Jamie Kent in Southington, CT at Jitters Coffeehouse, 8pm (solo gig w/ Hap Hazzard)
06/08/10 Jamie Kent in Brattleboro, VT at Weathervane Music Hall, 9pm (solo show)
06/12/10 Jamie Kent in Turners Falls MA at Water Under The Bridge Festival (@Rojos), 7:30pm
06/20/10: Harry’s Hoe Down, Starks ME, All weekend long!
07/16/10: Empire BrewFest, Syracuse NY, 7:00pm
10/25/10: Valley Homegrown TV Feature, Greenfield MA, 6pm
*All photos taken by Gillian Andrews