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Interview: Jaymes Young talks new album, summer tour and songwriting vs. producing

Atlantic Records

Jaymes Young is about to have a pretty exciting start to his summer. The 25-year-old electro-pop musician from Seattle is set to release his debut album on June 23. The 12-song LP, titled Feel Something, will include a pair of singles that have already found success with over 20 million streams each on Spotify in “I’ll Be Good” and “We Won’t.” The latter features a duet with rising indie-pop singer Phoebe Ryan, and has even peaked at the number one spot on the Hype Machine following its 2015 release.

Feel Something, which includes some really smooth and numbing synth-pop tracks from start to finish, is the reason Jaymes will be embarking on a month-long North American tour starting on July 10. The run of shows will include highlight stops at The Crocodile in Seattle on July 16, Kansas City’s recordBar on July 21 and The Sinclair just outside of Boston on July 28.

“I don’t think I’ve played [Seattle] since 2013, so friends and family can finally stop nagging me about it,” Young said with a laugh about the relaxed familiarity of playing his first hometown show in the Emerald City in nearly four years.

AXS caught up with Young from the west coast to talk about his upcoming album release and its promotional tour. The young musician, though thoughtfully soft spoken, had a lot to say about how he’s prepping for the debut release, his preferred style of performing and about the confusion over what mainstream production really entails and more.

AXS: What’s your process on beginning to prep for a tour in the weeks leading up to hitting the road like?
Well there’s a lot of pre-pro[duction] obviously. Transitioning from studio life to road life is all about physical well-being [laughs]. Everything from a live aspect is produced in-house, and that puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders to make sure every sound and everybody on stage is playing their part. I don’t have a band so on the past couple of tours I’ve just hired people to come on. I’m working with two new guys this year Tyler and Kim for keys and percussion, and they’re both fantastic.

AXS: How are you wanting to of introduce the songs that will be on Feel Something to the world?
I think we’re gonna highlight the live performances in two or three different ways. We’re also working on this special content. We were out shooting some of it the other day actually.I want to put out some content that’s personal and intimate. I never stop writing so that’s not something I could easily step away from, and I’m still kind of figuring out how people respond to different types of performances with what I like to do the most, whether it’s full band or a stripped down performance. The touring in support of this album will probably be pretty heavy for the rest of the year, and I hope of have people experience stuff on the record in a couple different ways.

AXS: What’s your personal preference?
I think it depends on the song, the place, the sound and the setting. There’s nothing like playing with a full band, but then again the stripped performances tend to be a bit more intimate. You get a chance to do things a little differently and have a different type of control.

AXS: Do you ever just add a stripped down mini-set into the middle of your overall performance. For this tour do you expect to have a full band presentation from start to finish?
I think it should probably be a little bit of both. I always try to be as true to the record as possible, but in a live setting there are so many different live aspects you could explore.

AXS: With “We Won’t,” that song did pretty well. Was that planned to be Feel Something’s lead single?
It really wasn’t included in the conceptualization of the album, but it is now [laughs]. It felt weird not putting it on there though just because it’s been the biggest growing song that I’ve put out so far.

AXS: Does having a song that earns 30 Million streams help ease into the start of a new adventure like an album cycle?
It’s comforting, but I think the directions I want to go in don’t always fit the mold of what people might expect from “We Don’t.” It’s nice to look at the streaming platforms and know that things are at least positive. It just depends on what you want to transition into next. Another thing to think about is that “We Won’t” is a duet. You never know how people are going to react to your own stuff, let alone with another singer. I don’t expect the same people to like all the songs on the album just because they like that one song.

AXS: Have any specific cities on the upcoming tour that you’re stoked to be visiting?
I’m just excited to get back out on the road again. I think the last tour I was supposed to do a one-off in Seattle, which is where I’m from, and it didn’t work out. There is a Seattle gig on this tour so I’m excited to finally play in my hometown again. This is going to be a short run, and it’s just getting back out there and showing face. This set is going to evolve a lot over the next five or so months as we continue to tweak and perfect things. There’s gonna be more stuff booked after this.

AXS: It sometimes seems like music fans who are just starting to get into electro-pop and synth-pop, or any electronic-based genre sometimes don’t fully understand the difference between producing and songwriting. Do you find that to hold true in your experience?
They’re kind of different things. I think the confusion these days comes from the fact that producing is no longer defined the same way it once was. These days the art of producing is actually writing, where you’ve got people making beats and remixing stuff. Even just producing alternative music, there’s still a lot of writing that goes into it, more than there used to be. Songwriting is coming up with the three most important things, which is the chord progression, the melody and the lyric. Apart from those things and maybe some grooves and rhythm, those are probably the top elements that define what songwriting is.

Fans can click here to buy select tickets to Jaymes’ upcoming summer tour.

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