Posts Tagged Jhameel
Needless to say, after our interview with Jhameel earlier this year, we were pretty smitten with the 20-somrthing who hails originally from Minnesota but now calls California home. That is, smitten both with his earnest attitude and his indie-pop talent and sensibilities. And Jhameel continues to give away high-quality music free of charge with the third installment of his series WAVES, a five-week event in which he premieres a new free single each Tuesday. This week it’s the title track, and while it might slow things down a bit tempo-wise, it’s every bit as addicting as “Collision” and “White Lie,” which dropped in Week One and Week Two, respectively. That keyboard riff is intoxicating and, like much of Jhameel’s stuff, it’s addicting. Download “Waves” below.
Lord help me, I can’t help but get wrapped up in the catchiness of Jhameel’s music. “White Lie” is the second release from a five-week series of tracks the L.A.-based artist is calling WAVES, all of which are free. While last week’s track “Collision” contained some of those raw, passion-fused vocals that populated his Dance EP of this past summer, “White Lie” smooths over any rough edges and just kinda grooves until you can’t really resist anymore. Surely it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but the ability Jhameel shows to wander back and forth between different elements of indie-pop is pretty impressive. Grab “White Lie” below.
To listen to Jhameel’s body of work is to hear a performer growing more and more comfortable with his artistic voice. I was taken with this Los Angeles native’s covers of Fleet Foxes and The Knife when I first heard him early this year. I was thrilled to discover and repeat the varied and undeniably catchy tunes on his sophomore LP The Human Condition. And the attitude and ferocity — not to mention sheer danceable pop music prowess — that Jhameel displayed on “Shut Up” and the other tracks from this past summer’s Dance EP showed me yet another side of this dude’s talent. And his impressive potential.
With the release of “Collision,” Jhameel has begun a series entitled Waves, where he’ll release a new song for five straight weeks, all of them free for downloading for the foreseeable future. He’s been generous before with his musical catalog, with The Human Condition and Dance EP each being free for the taking. And “Collision” follows in the same musical vein as “Shut Up,” in that it’s got a clubworthy beat, driving synths and features Jhameel cutting loose vocally at times into an outright shout. And also that it’s awesome. Download “Collision” below.
Those of you who have been with us for awhile know that we here at TWJ are big fans of indie-pop dude Jhameel. The guy plays multiple instruments, constructs songs capable of latching onto your brain and hanging out inside your head all day long. He proved as much with The Human Condition, an album that led to our first post about the 21-year old San Franciscan. Jhameel was nice enough to give us some of his time for a Q&A in March, and it was in that interview he told us he had some ambitious goals.
I’m not sure if creating something like his new Dance EP was on the list of things Jhameel wanted to achieve in his career. But it’s nice to see an artist challenge himself and try something a little different. The five tracks on this new release are, not shockingly, endearing and enjoyable. Disco-funk banger “Shut Up” is my early favorite, primarily because of how cathartic the shout-then-sing vocals sound like they were to record. And how powerfully fun the song is.
“Love Me Twice” builds on a chopped up guitar riff and a handclapping beat, and works in some nice vocals that range from distorted to nearly spoken word. “I Am The Silhouette” uses a waterfall synth beat quite well, and “Origami Monsters” bangs with a clubworthy pulse. “Foundation” is an uplifting, keyboard-laden jam. I enjoyed the whole EP, and I assume the goal was to get people moving. There’s plenty here to accomplish that task, with flying colors. Download “Shut Up” and “I Am The Silhouette,” and check out the rest of the EP below. I’m falling in love with it as we speak.
And, just as he did with The Human Condition, Jhameel is giving the whole thing away for free (or for a donation, if you want). What a good dude.
When I posted on San Francisco via Minnetonka, Minnesota indie-pop artist Jhameel about a week ago, the post was popular among our readers and received lots of feedback. It’s easy to hear why. Many of the songs on the 21-year old’s sophomore LP The Human Condition are instantly catchy, and the 10 tracks cover a wide range of musical styles. And not only has he been generous enough to give away the album, but he was nice enough to answer several questions from The Wounded Jukebox via a recent email interview.
The questions, along with his responses, are below.
The Wounded Jukebox: Who do you make your music for?
Jhameel: I make music in large part for myself. I use it to express who I am, figure things out, cement ideas, let my emotions out, discover new emotions, organize my thoughts. But I also make music for anyone who is open to learning from and enjoying what I create. I have a lot to say, and I like to think that what I say helps people in their mindsets and decisions, and overall just has a positive effect on them.
TWJ: Your biography states that you’re fluent in four languages besides English. Did you immerse yourself in those cultures (Arabic, Russian, Korean and Spanish) as well, and how does that influence your music?
Jhameel: I’ve immersed myself in Arabic, Korean, and Spanish culture, but I’ve yet to do so with Russian. I try to keep up with these languages every day, and am still growing in my knowledge of them. I study them because I love languages, and I find that they are so similar to music.
They’re so similar that principles I learn from one can be applied to the other. For example, in learning languages, I think my brain works mainly through recognizing patterns and using them to learn about pieces within the pattern. This has helped me realize that most principles you learn from one instrument can be applied to almost all instruments. For example, just as there are verb conjugations, tenses, noun declensions etc. in many languages, there are scales, chords, time signatures etc. that you can express through almost all instruments just from learning the basic technique for a few types of instruments.
TWJ: You’re originally from Minnetonka, MN, right? What’s one way you’d say your hometown has influenced your music?
Jhameel: My major emotional growth as a child happened in Minnetonka. That town taught me about the joy of finding beauty in the world and in the few loved ones around you. When I moved away from it, it taught me the pain of separation, but also the growth that comes from pain. I’ll always consider my heart to be in Minnetonka, but I’ve grown to love the Bay Area so much as well.
TWJ: There’s a verse in your song “Cafe Du Monde” that goes “for there is life after fire and there is birth after death / there is good in us all for there is evil so let us /delight in the balance let us rest / in the beauty of our being.” A lot of the songs on The Human Condition seem to deal with that balance you mention in those lines. Is that the human condition you’re getting at — the struggle to find that equilibrium? Or how would you define it?
Jhameel: Yes that’s definitely one of the main messages of the album. It’s the idea that if your goal in life as a human being is to attain happiness, you need to learn to be happy with both the light and the dark. It’s an old idea, but I want to put it in modern context. Really life is just flat without contrast. You need to have highs and lows, and recognize that the highs only exist because the lows do.
TWJ: You blend a lot of different instruments and various musical styles on The Human Condition. What’s your songwriting process like?
Jhameel: It’s pretty different for every song, but usually I come up with the instrumentals before the vocals, and then adjust them accordingly. I’ll give you an example.
I came back from a friend’s house one day, and the oldies station was playing “Kiss” by Prince, so I was feeling some funk music. I went in the shower at my apartment, and I just started singing random notes. It’s notable to mention that I had smoked a bit of pot.
Eventually I came up with the guitar riff melody for “The Human Condition,” after which I immediately ran out of the shower and started recording the riff on electric guitar. After that, the song kind of just wrote itself.
As far as blending lots of instruments goes, I only play instruments that songs “call for” in the sense that I’ll be listening to a track, and if I hear violin in my head, that’s what I’ll add to the song. It feels very natural, and once I have basic foundations set up, songs build on themselves
TWJ: What made you choose “White Winter Hymnal” and “Heartbeats” as songs to cover? Could you see yourself wearing a beard and flannel? Or banging out synthpop in Sweden?
Jhameel: I chose “White Winter Hymnal” because I was experimenting with loop stations a lot at the time. When I heard it, I immediately recognized that it was compatible with a loop machine, and recorded it on video.
I chose “Heartbeats” recently because I relate to that song a lot at this moment in time. I just got out of my first relationship, my first time being in love, and am moving on from being bitter to being nostalgic about all the powerful emotions that happened in that state.
Even if I could see myself with a beard and flannel, I can’t grow a beard anyways. I know very few Asians that can grow beards. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
I’d like to play some shows in Sweden, but not synthpop. I love electronic music, but I personally am too fond of live instruments.
TWJ: You’re very early in your career, but is there a big-picture goal you’d like to accomplish musically?
Jhameel: Yes I have some fairly ambitious goals. One is that I’d like to make a music video out of a full album. Basically it’s a feature film, with no dialogue, that goes to an album from beginning to end.
TWJ: Is “THC” only about smoking pot?
Jhameel: Hard to say. It is mainly about pot, but it’s also about recognizing some of the lessons that pot teaches you. Sometimes, being high just really puts things into perspective, and that’s more what the song is about.
Jhameel’s biography states that he can speak four different languages. Funkiness was not listed among those four, but judging by many of the tracks on his sophomore LP The Human Condition, this kid is fluent. He concocts a really interesting mix of orchestral instruments, guitars, synthesizers and solid percussion. The vocals are earnest without being overwrought. Jhameel plays all the instruments present on The Human Condition, which is impressive as well.
The melodies on this album are undeniably catchy. The songs range from folkish ballads to funky romps like the title track that we give to you here. There are elements of all the bands that Jhameel lists as influences — Phoenix, MGMT, Jonsi and Sufjan Stevens — but melds them into a style that is distinctly his.
Check out “The Human Condition”, along with a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”. And for an interesting look at how he plays all those instruments, check out a video of Jhameel covering The Knife’s “Heartbeat”. Also, try not to smile when listening to “How Many Lovers” as well.
You can download the whole gosh darn album at Jhameel’s website. Trust me, it’s worth it. Something from it will be stuck in your head today.