By Michelle Embleton | June 27th, 2011
We were fortunate enough to feature the very talented Jhameel on the debut Fresh Meat playlist, where he received endless amounts of praise for his insanely catchy tune “The Human Condition.” And now, Indie Shuffle recently had the privilege to pick apart Jhameel’s brain to learn more about his inspiration for his latest album, The Human Condition, and to find out how truly talented this one-man band really is.
How did you get involved with music initially?
My dad was a fairly well known violinist in the eighties, so he started me on playing it when I was a kid. I was terrible at it, so I quit, and picked up trumpet instead. After that, I started singing and writing music, so I taught myself a few other instruments, and eventually even came back to violin as well. I haven’t stopped since.
What genre(s) of music would you classify your music as?
I like to incorporate elements of a lot of genres, but I would classify my music as mostly pop. I have stages though, for example in this dance EP I’m releasing for the summer I have a lot of disco/ James Brown influence. For The Human Condition, I was intrigued with funk, a little bit of rock, and soft indie pop. I try to put it all in the context of my own aesthetic though.
Do you have any strong musical influences who you gather creative inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration listening and watching the old legends: Prince, James Brown, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Queen etc. I try to learn from them and bring the energy, power, and communication that they execute and incorporate it into both my recordings and my live shows.
Have you released anything prior to The Human Condition?
I released an album prior to The Human Condition. It was a self-titled album, and had a very mellow sound. I consider it a very introspective album, making sense of my life up until that point, whereas The Human Condition is an extroverted album, expressing my values and what I believe to be some of the most intrinsic elements of being a human being.
What can listeners expect to hear in The Human Condition? What inspired you for this album?
One thing I hope listeners will notice is the amount of attention to detail. I put a lot of care into making sure every single moment of the album offers something. What inspired me most was the fact that I was learning and experiencing a lot of things I’d never experienced before, and I wanted to express the excitement and diversity of what I was going through. I felt some of the most intense joys of my life, and some of the most painful stings as well.
Each song off The Human Condition has a very distinct and unique sound to it — what exactly are all the instruments heard, and how do you blend them together so well?
I’d say some of the main instruments in the album are guitar, trumpet, piano, drums, violin, cello, synth, and bass. They blend nicely because of the way I choose the instruments. It’s never arbitrary, most of the time one instrument will fit much nicer than any other, so the decision kind of makes itself. I always say a song will “call for” a certain sound, and if it’s necessary, I will learn how to play a certain instrument just to incorporate that one sound.
The entire album is amazing, but one of my favorite songs is “Bernal Heights.” I love the raw lyrics blended with the the sounds, and I think it’s a very powerful song. If you had to pick one song off The Human Condition that was your favorite to write or record, what would it be?
The title track, “The Human Condition” was definitely my favorite to record. It took me some hard work and frustration to arrange, but that song was a milestone for my writing experience. It allowed me to expand what kind of genres I could blend, while still maintaining pop sensibility. It’s also just a funny story that I thought of it in the shower and ran out to record it.
If you could pick any musician to perform on stage live with, who would it be and why?
Sigur Ros. I connect very deeply with their sound, and I think it would be such a powerful experiencing playing some of their music with them.
What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment and also most difficult challenge in the making of The Human Condition?
I think my biggest challenge was to make sure that every song was completely distinct, but still appropriate within the context of the CD. I wanted to make an album that flows, but constantly offers surprises. My biggest accomplishment was the absolute joy of being able to convey all the emotions I was feeling accurately.
Any upcoming tours in the next few months?
I am planning one, but it’s not planned enough yet to announce. It’s coming though.