“Music is the soundtrack of the only life we live!”
1. Hi, Jamie. Let me ask you the sublime, metaphysical question – who are you?
I am ghost in a shell, a word on the breeze, a thought that evaporates when you try to grab, a dream undreamt…
2. What music in general means to you?
Music is the way to say all the things words alone can’t explain…
3. When and why did you start playing?
I started playing early in life as music just spoke to me. It was something that grabbed me like no other. I remember listening to Beethoven when I was 4 or 5 and just being lost in the layers of sound… Not knowing anything but feeling everything!
4. Which instruments do you play?
Badly, barely or really? ;-)
5. What was the first tune(s) you learned?
Hmm… actually, I don’t remember. I do recall my brother learning Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad”… That’s maybe the first one he learned.
6. Is your family musical? Did you have their moral support on your way?
Irish culture is musical and so yes there was lots of music in my family too. There is no social gatherings that aren’t soundtracked by songs sung together or dancing to songs together in my family. Patsy Cline, Christy Moore, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison…and more, were all constant figures in my childhood.
7. What are your major musical icons/influences?
I find this one tricky. Influences… what actually makes its way into my own music? I would say Bob Marley, Van Morrison, Bobby McBride, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lucky Bones Radiohead, The Beatles… an endless list and yet I still find more in past and present.
8. Who are your favorite musicians?
Anybody getting up there and doing it. Actually playing music and exploring the world and sharing that journey. Anybody doing that with a degree of honesty gets my vote.
9. Do you ever feel fed up with singing a song too many times?
I tend to know when I can’t sing a song again so yeah, I just move on before that happens. Myself and Ivan Alexiev (bass player with The Number Nein) were just talking about this. He found a song of mine we never play and wondered why. My answer was I just can’t find more than one truth in the song so it doesn’t feel right.
10. What inspires you the most?
People who keep going, people with a “never say die” attitude, the explorers and warriors of our world.
11. What new music you like?
Well, I don’t know… What’s new to me is not necessarily new. I am really digging the Irish band Interference but they are no longer with us. I only heard them for the first time a few days ago. Bobby Mc Bride always has new songs popping up (check him out!). We Raise Bears from Dublin are a really cool act, too.
12. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
What mistakes? :-)
13. You have performed in streets, bars, pubs, clubs… Do you (or have you ever) get nervous before a performance?
I get eager to start. Waiting is hard. I often want to cut out all the extra nonsense and just get to the music… is that nervous?
14. What was the biggest problem that you had to overcome so far?
Learning to discredit comfort and then having become comfortable with discomfort to shift the balance once more.
15. When did you decide to form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
I kinda collected the band over years of playing. The Number Nein has members across the globe and depending on where I am and who is near I call them up and away we go.
Basically they are all people who I find inspiring to have around musically and socially. There are lots of laughs behind the music.
16. If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose this career? Would you do anything differently?
It chose me… and, yeah, I would do everything differently, but only out of curiosity.
17. Of all the places you have been to, which one you want to return to again and again, and why?
Well, I do love coming back to Bulgaria, because of the people. But mainly I love anywhere I can revel in the creation of music.
18. How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?
19. What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
Damn…. I am seeking a living and peace of mind. If I don’t create this body of work that plagues my mind then nobody else ever can. That’s a burden but a joyous one.
20. What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue music career?
Do it before you don’t. And surround yourself with people who support and enjoy the music while having a laugh. We’re here for a good time, not a long time!
21. You’ve got a few albums out now. Are you satisfied with how they turned out?
Well, there are actually 3 studio albums and 3 home recorded ones, as well as a live one… so that’s 7 in all.
I am really happy with the new one and on reflection I love the older work as documents of a place and time.
22. What’s next?
Bonus question: Jamie, you share the same name with Jamie McDonald (adventurer). Do people mistake you for him sometimes?
Never… I did once have some upset audience members in Antwerp because my name was misprinted and they arrived hoping to see Scottish chanteuse Amy McDonald.