Jamie Freeman Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Jamie Freeman Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Lamitschka:  Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?

Answer:  I play music in an Americana style, guitar-led, generally pretty up-beat, with echos of the 60s and bits of psychedelia thrown in. I’m a songwriter, the lyrics are super important to me, and above all I want to get them across to the listener.

Lamitschka:  How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?

Answer:  Having one of my songs played on the BBC Radio 2 Country Show was pretty exciting for me. It was the duet with Angaleena Presley, and having her on the record amongst so many other great artists and songwriters has all been fantastic.

Lamitschka:  What is your latest CD and how's it doing?

Answer:  Dreams About Falling came out in May on CD and – a first for me – on vinyl too. I’m really excited about the response it’s got – the reviews have been extremely supportive. People seem to really ‘get it’ I’m pleased to say.

Lamitschka:  How did you choose the title for the CD?  Is there a story behind the name?

Answer: With my wife Stevie we were talking about some of the themes in the songs on the album, lots of which are about childhood, trying to come up with an idea for the cover. She got this idea in her head, a visual image of me falling through the air. We worked on that for a while and I remembered that I used to have what you might call flying dreams; something that’s usually quite joyous, if a little scary. I flipped it into ‘falling dreams’, like when you trip and fall and suddenly wake up! Once we had the title the cover came from there, and I found the perfect image - from the 1930s. It’s a trapeze artist about to start his show. It’s that moment before he steps out and makes the leap of faith.

Lamitschka:  Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?

Answer:  I wrote all the songs, all but two were written with other people. I was lucky enough to write in Nashville with Angaleena Presley (Pistol Annies), Brandy Zdan, Ben Glover, Michael Logen, Amy Speace, Wild Ponies, and my long-time writing partner Amy Tudor in Louisville. They are some fantastic writers and it was a huge honour for me.

Lamitschka:  Your current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to hear it?

Answer:  Having Angaleena Presley duet with me was very special. Earlier this year her band - Pistol Annies - had a number 1 album on the Billboard Country chart. That’s quite something, and all the more amazing that she would sing with an unknown artist like me! But she’s incredibly generous, and I think she really does like what I do. Anyway, that definitely makes it more interesting for radio I think, and people seem to like the way our voices work together - I’m obviously British and she’s definitely Kentucky! But it seems to work. I it’s a desperate love story too, of two people torn apart by war, but not in an obvious way.

Lamitschka:  What will your next single be?

Answer:  The new single is Standing On A Star. This one was written with Brandy Zdan, and she features on the track too (although this one isn’t a duet as such.)

Lamitschka:  What is your favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what's the story behind it?

Answer:  It would be impossible to pick a favourite as they all tell different stories and show different sides to me. I go through phases of liking different ones, but I’ve particularly enjoyed playing ‘The Man I Want To Be’ at live shows. On the other hand, ‘Rum & Smoke’ is great fun to play too as I often get people singing along!

Lamitschka:  How much creative control do you have over your music?

Answer:  I’m an independent artist, and I have 100% control. What I’ve learned to do though is allow people to do their jobs and have input into the way it sounds, or looks. For example, Neilson Hubbard produced the record and I handed over all of the responsibility in the studio. If Neilson thought something was right, I agreed. And the video for Standing On A Star - we just asked this bunch of kids to make a video, with no brief; we just allowed them to do their thing. So while I’m completely in control, I’ve learned to allow people to do their thing, and it seems to be working.

Lamitschka:  Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

Answer:  I was brought up on music. We didn’t have many records in the house, but the ones we had were really great; The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Simon & Garfunkle… Quality stuff. Years later I would return to CSNY in particular and it really shaped my musical direction, moving into Americana and folk music.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today's music industry?

Answer:  The music industry has always abused its relationship with the artists - the people without whom there would be no industry. When music was first recorded the artists were paid tiny session fees, not understanding the worth of their artistry. In the 50s and 60s artists were horribly ripped off by managers and labels alike. With CDs artists were paid a fraction of the money they’d been paid for vinyl sales supposedly so the industry could ‘recoup’ the cost of developing the medium. And for the past twenty years we’ve been living through the most challenging of times, where music is expected to be virtually free to anyone who wants it. Somehow artists carry on, and the reason is that we have to - if you have something to say you just have to say it. I just hope the art form lasts long enough that we can get to a point where the creators are fairly paid for their work.

Lamitschka:  As an artist, you so many tasks such as recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what's your favorite activity?

Answer:  I’m really happy when I’m in the studio. I have a studio at home in the garden and I’ve produced quite a few records in the for other people. That’ my happy place! But really I love being on stage and performing live in front of as audience. To get that immediate response is priceless, and when it goes well there’s nothing to beat it.

Lamitschka:  What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which you are proud of?

Answer:  I’v had so many things happen in my musical life that have just been incredible moments. Things that have given me such validation as an artist. For example, I remember getting to know Annabelle Chvostek a few years back. She’d been in one of my favourite bands, the Wailin’ Jennys. We became friends, and ended up writing together. She would wear my t-shirt at her shows, and have me open shows for her. She would join me on stage to sing, and have me sing with her… Things like that - little things really - have meant so much to me. The generosity of musicians is really something very special, and I have received so much from so many musicians along the way. So it’s not so much a sense of pride in my achievements per se, it’s more that I’m grateful to have been able to be friends with such incredible people, and have them trust me enough to share their music with me.

Lamitschka:  What hopes and desires do you have?

Answer:  Honestly, all I hope for is to get my music heard as widely as possible. I put so much effort into it and so of course I want it to be as successful as possible. I guess most artists are the same, you make art in order for people to experience it.

Lamitschka:  Many European fans travel to the United States to attend the several of the music festivals for the opportunity to see so many of their favorite artists, bands and celebrities. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

Answer:  I’m taking part in a writing camp called House Of Songs, and we’ll be performing some of the songs we write at several showcases at AmericanaFest in Nashville this September.

Lamitschka:  What can your fans expect to see when they see you in concert?

Answer:  I usually play solo, just me, an acoustic guitar, and a kick drum! The music’s generally pretty up-beat, and people have sometimes mentioned my punk attitude! I like to get involved with the audience, make them laugh, get them joining in. I like to think it’s an engaging show. I do my best anyway!

Lamitschka:  Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?

Answer:  jamiefreeman.co.uk is where you can find everything you need, including links to my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts, where I’m very active.

Lamitschka:  What's your favorite song that you wish you could have recorded?

Answer:  There’s a song called ‘Icy Blue Heart’ by John Hiatt. I learned it from a version EmmyLou Harris recorded. It’s the saddest, most beautiful song. I’d love to have recorded that. At the other end of the spectrum, man… I wish I’d recorded Steve Earle’s ‘Copperhead Road’, it’s an absolute classic!

Lamitschka:  What message would you like to send your European fans?

Answer:  Come and see me on tour with Wade Bowen this summer! I’m playing four dates in Germany (I’d love to come and see more of Europe of course) and I’m really excited to get out beyond the UK.

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de ) for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

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