Interview with Jamie Knox

London-born songwriter and house-proud bedroom producer Jamie Knox is an artist you won’t get tired of hearing. Drawing influence from artists such as Elliott Smith, James Blake, Sufjan Stevens, Fink and Beck, Jamie could easily have his name in lights like his heroes. The isolation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic inspired a new album of material; themed around the aspiration for hope and managing the dark places your mind can go to when you’re alone. The album was written and recorded in London during the UK’s second lockdown.

What made you decide that music is the right path for you?

I once heard a saying that you should not decide to become a writer if it’s something you want to do, that you should pursue it if it’s something you need to do. Making music has always been that for me, something I feel compelled to do. As a child I was bad at many things and had a low self esteem as I was slower than a lot of other kids my age. I once went to a friends house when I was about 11 and he could play guitar.

I was hooked, I got a guitar as soon as possible and started writing terrible songs. I was bad at playing guitar, singing and (especially) at writing songs for a long time but I got lessons and over time started to develop some music that I was proud of. I’ve played in bands with some phenomenal musicians and I’ve been releasing music for 9 years now. In that time, I have not found any one thing more personally rewarding and satisfying. I know that if I was marrooned on a desert island alone I’d be tapping my knees and writing lyrics in the sand.

Who are your main musical influences and why?

In recent years, I have become an Elliott Smith fanatic. It’s not the most original take but I just find his lyrics so emotionally resonant. I could go on for days about his Beatle’s inspired arrangements, atypical vocal harmonies, his unique guitar playing style and chord sequences. When I was 14, I first heard the album Come on Feel The Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens. It is a masterpiece record that always inspires me whenever I listen to it, which is still very often. When I listen back to my music I can hear the influence that I’ve taken from Grizzly Bear, Fink, St Vincent, The Shins, Gaz Coombes (Supergrass) and Spoon.

One of my earliest loves in music was for Amanda Palmer’s two piece band, The Dresden Dolls, the raw emotion of her vocal performance was always spoke to me. The debut Dresden Dolls album (along with copious amounts of Joy Division) got me through some tough times in my teens.

What’s the best advice you’d give to your younger self?

I’d tell myself not to feel so rushed and not to let your self esteem be goverend by comparing your successes or failures with others. I was obsessed in my teens with proving myself to everyone. I wanted people to know that I really had something to offer as a musician and wasn’t just a guy with a guitar. I had a burning desire for recognition and I allowed that to effect my mental health. When everything seemed to be well I’d become giddy and in reterospect behaved quite arrogantly and when things went badly I would become totally miserable for long periods of time.

I like to think that over time I’ve started to rely less on friends and peers for that validation. That I can write the music that I like instead of making the music I think other people want to hear. Feeling less pressure to prove yourself every day allows you to focus on what you really want. That’s when I start to feel the most creative. One day, you’re just writing something and thinking ‘this is great’ and not stopping to think ‘I hope someone will like this’.

Give our listeners some music recommendations that we should check out!

If you haven’t heard him before then listen to Sufjan Stevens; Carry & Lowell is a masterpiece from start to finish.I recently discovered Superfood’s 2017 album Bambino, which is absolutely fantastic. I’m always up for some dancy indie when the mood is right. If you’re into Shoegaze, Ringo Deathstarr’s Pure Mood is a fantastic record. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of shame, Wet Leg and Idles. I saw Idles at Brixton Acadamy recently and they were phenomenal.

Tell MoggBlog viewers about your latest release! What’s the inspiration behind that?

My new single is all about feeling unsafe in your day to day life. The feeling when your brain starts to spiral with anxiety and you can’t tell anyone what’s going on because you know they won’t understand. The stress over the course of this pandemic was a real strain on my mental health so this song fealt like a cathartic release of some of these feelings. It felt important to try and express it as best I could.

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