Woon talks background, output and direction at Evolution Festival
Jamie Woon Interview

An initial meeting with Jamie Woon at the Evolution festival on Newcastle’s Quayside, battered by the recent intrusion of crass TV (Geordie Shore) but still standing. The interview itself was, thankfully, more illuminating than its venue, a darkened hangout: Jamie’s tour bus. Barely visible to the naked eye in an environment reminiscent of 1756 Calcutta, Jamie could at least be heard if not easily seen as he discussed pre-performance, his musical background, output and direction.

Hi Jamie, first time in Newcastle?
No, I have previously played Digital, so I’m familiar with the city but it’s my first time playing Evolution.

Thoughts on the festival so far?
Seems really good, the crowd seem wicked and well up for it. I’m playing the Baltic Stage which has a great location.

How do you think the festival impacts upon Newcastle’s music scene?
It will have such a positive impact on it and I like the fact that it showcases local bands. The festival is in the heart of the city which really makes you feel you are where everything is happening.

How's the tour going?
Really well. Kicked off in Glasgow this week, my Mother’s side of the family are all Scottish so I had all the relatives there.

Being a musician in her own right (Mae McKenna), how influential was your mother, in terms of your passion for music?
She had a massive impact on me. I grew up around her work, seeing her in the studio making albums. She had a baby studio in her house and her mates would come over and write songs, it was great to be around and all very encouraging.

Was graduating from Brit School a help or hindrance to your music career?
I’m not going to deny that I’m from there. I can see why it would be annoying, having a constant stream of artists coming out of one place. It was a fun place to go to and allowed me to concentrate solely on music from a relatively young age. If you wanted to form a band, they encouraged that.

So, you started out as a singer-songwriter, how did the collaboration with Burial and the move into dubstep come about?
I had an opportunity to do a 12” with a small label run by people who knew about electronic music. I heard Burial’s first album and loved it, so I asked through a mutual friend if he would do a remix. Basically, he was really into it and did a wicked mix for me. I had never heard my voice in that context before. I liked the music and was completely aware of it, but not really a club goer. We always said we’d make more music together and he was very encouraging about what I was doing. He guided me to a whole bunch of new sounds I hadn’t made before which set me on my way with my album.

And what was it like working with Burial?
Our methods were very different. I was coming in as a singer-songwriter and guitarist and he works entirely in the domain of samples and that was what I was really impressed with. He opened up the process of making music for me, treating any sound as a sample and adding my own meaning to it.

You have been bracketed with Jamie XX and James Blake as unofficial leaders of the new world (or at least post-dubstep), does this create a pressure?
I don’t feel particularly pressured by it, I like and appreciate what they are doing and it is great to be associated with them. We may come from similar references, but I actually think what we are doing is quite different. James is a brilliant producer whereas my stuff is quite foggy and I come from a singer-songwriter background.

Have you found your niche in post-dubstep or do you intend to pursue other musical directions?
I just want to keep doing what I’m interested in. I’m definitely open to taking my music in different directions.

Who would you like to work with in the future?
I’d love to do something with Beyonce. I’m really interested in making music for other people and would love to exercise my production muscle a bit more.

Words by Louise Brown

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