Creatives: musicians, fashion designers, painters all choose to portray themselves to their ‘audience’ in unique ways. Sometimes they choose to hide behind a moniker or a mask, so we never truly get to understand the individual behind the work. I guess it’s the beautiful thing about being an artist – you get to choose what to reveal. Then there are others, who, through the discovery of their true self, comes a burning desire to turn that into art, these are the artists you can connect with. Jamie Irrepressible – under his ‘The Irrepressibles’ moniker – is the embodiment of exactly this. Since finding himself and embracing his sexuality, a dedication to music followed, and along with it, a message of empowerment to the LGBTQI community has been his driving inspiration. We caught up with Jamie to discuss his career, what keeps driving his work forward and the inspiration behind his latest album ‘Superheroes’.
For Jamie, music from the age of 17 was a way of embracing his sexuality, in a manner that wasn’t accepted in day to day life. “I needed to put it into music, my inner realm, to process my love and lust. I couldn’t really talk about it openly due to the times. Growing up at a time when my sexuality was still a taboo, I needed to create a world for it to live in – the rugged beauty of it. Being a homosexual man, it’s often been an expression of male homosexuality and masculinity.” Although, his musical talents shone years before such discoveries, “I’ve always been composing music in my head from an early age to fill my inner emotional realm.” Proclaims Jamie, “I was either chaos or introverted but totally fascinated by music. As a young teen I did a paper round to pay for piano lessons and started writing music so much my piano teacher gave up, as I was always playing him what I was creating. He told my mother I wasn’t going to be a music teacher, but probably a rock star.”
It took barely a minute of conversation with Jamie to realise he genuinely lives for his art. You get a sense that during his life, music has been his saving grace and without it, things would have been far more difficult. “My music has always come from my internal world and I feel it’s important to express ourselves honestly. Honest homosexual expression discussing the uniqueness of our outlook and seeking connection and empathy from the world at large for our cause has been my mission in music.”
In 2015 the artist moved to Berlin, in the pursuit of furthering his artistry. “I went with little to nothing but a rucksack and my guitar. But my career took off more with the collab with Royksopp. Berlin is a beautiful city with a mix of a care-free life, leisure, err pleasure 😉 and err no not for me thanks wow/err/wow, and creativity. But they say it’s where you career goes to die as people are a tad too flaky – too much partying I think and a bit too nihilistic – so I had to move away so I could get stuff done. I’m too much of a bouncy Tigger for there.” Jamie left the city with endless inspiration that has sonically travelled with him everywhere since.
In July he released his 3rd Album – Superheroes – a collection of work that came 8 years after its predecessor. A lot has happened in that time for Jamie, which helps to encompass the album into his most personal and different work to date. Written, produced and composed by Jamie, it took 4 years to finish. “It took so long as A) I was working in a new genre – Electronic music – which I must say is probably the most complex and sophisticated of styles. I’ve still a lot to learn. And B) The album was made while in love, the relationship ended, and I had to finish it and give it an end which was very tough.”
An album that draws on genuine life experience is never easy to put together, but Jamie has built a career on doing exactly that. In some ways those years spent in Berlin fuelled the final aesthetic. The sounds of Electronic music that the city is so famous for runs rife throughout, but also the of sounds prog, Kraut rock, and Electronica inspired the outcome. “Prog was my education in music. I loved Mike Oldfield’s Tubullar Bells, as a 10-year-old and would also listen religiously to Tangerine Dream records. This style has a whole landscape and journey to it. But then I also wanted to make a record that had the sonic of Germany, and I’d immersed myself in the world of Kraftwerk. You’d also hear Jazz in the streets there and hip-hop, so it needed to have a flavour of that too. I did my best to create a landscape in the record. To express the joy of the relationship – I also wanted to try and make people DANCE!!!”
Much has changed in society since Jamie first entered the industry. In some ways Superheroes is an ode to those at the forefront of the LGBTQI movement and the freedom of expression that has followed. Although there’s still along way to go, individuals no longer have to hide who they are and that’s the path we all need to follow. “It’s full of lots of parts of our homosexual expression and experience. Each of my records aims to talk honestly about homosexuality, homosexual love and joy. This album is a love story. I think we are living in a wonderful time where openly homosexual, trans, and non-binary art and music is being heard. I’m pleased to be part of this and to help support my fellow artists in the LGBTQI which I’ve done with events, releases from my label.”
A key element of Jamie’s phenomenal ability as a songwriter comes through storytelling. Much of it relies on real life experience, but some inspiration comes from another realm. “A shared love of the Never Ending Story was a starting point. It was so dear to me and my ex-partner. It’s a German book from the late 70s and the 80s film is awesome. I wanted the album to sound like it could be from a fantasy film. The album is about healing the inner child as a homosexual man through love and connection. It’s about how we enter this space in each other when we fall in deep love and help to heal the trauma of the past. My work is always from the real. It’s always a way of me processing my life.”
Work however, never stops for the artist. With Superheroes not even a month old, Jamie is looking to the future with great promise. “We go soon to do some more recording on the album that follows. It’s written and a lot of it already recorded. Again, it’s very different to this one and in a different genre. Change is important for me creatively. I’m looking forward to expressing more on this next record and building a different sonic world. For me making music is about learning about yourself and trying to capture your experience in a way that communicates our shared experiences. Plus, I have some collabs with some other artists I’m working with currently in other music genres.”
Superheroes is a beautiful album that sees The Irrespressibles at their very best. Never shying away from trying something new and writing from the heart, it feels impossible not to feel some form of connection to his music. It takes a special individual to create that emotion through music and it isn’t something you come across everyday. The artist continues to inspire and yet, for some reason I feel the best is still yet to come… I look forward to it.