JMYSTR (Jamie Bowman) is a producer/songwriter based in Southampton. His debut track ‘Better (ft. Lu)’ earned him a feature in the 405, and shows a matured and well-honed sound for someone at the start of their musical career. We catch up with the new artist to chat about his sound and influences, as well as what we can expect from his debut album.
Your latest track with LU shows impressive depth and an established style. How did the collaboration come about?
The collaboration was formed via Twitter as a good friend of mine who runs a small management company gave me her name. I followed her and we got talking almost instantly. I knew she would be a good fit for the song because of our similar musical taste, which helps as I knew she’d like the song – as well as her voice of course. I originally wrote all the lyrics but LU, (Luchana Shaw), came down to Southampton and helped re-shape it a bit and it turned out great.
Has your sound developed over time? Or was this always the musical direction that you were looking to follow?
I would say that my sound has developed over time, and quite quickly to be honest. Back in 2012 when I started producing and writing in college, I was just focusing on learning the ropes – finding out how DAWs such as Logic and Pro Tools operate etc. I wasn’t really focusing my time on creating my genre/my identity. However since coming to University I have been able to use my free time productively, allowing me to think more creatively as well. ‘Better’ is a song I’m proud of as it reflects R&B being my favourite and aspiring genre, whilst having several of my own elements in there too.
How long have you been making music for? Is JMYSTR your first project?
JMYSTR was actually a ‘re-brand’ not too long ago – only December last year. Jmister was the original name coming from a nickname I had once in primary school! It just happens to have stuck all this time.
Whilst your music carries it’s own charm, we can certainly see some influences from vocal artists such as BANKS and Sampha, but also from producers such as SBTRKT. Who would cite as your biggest inspirations?
That’s big praise, thank you! Yeah I definitely see BANKS as a major inspiration, I just love everything she brings out. From her sound to her voice, the way she can change emotion from sadness to aggression to relief; it’s all over her Goddess album. However, The Weeknd is my number one influence; not just musically but also in everyday life. You have to be proud and take lessons on how he’s risen from the man no-one knew when I first heard him, to a borderline superstar with no controversy, just purely the music. That’s a role model. From the Trilogy tapes to Kiss Land I looked to implement sounds from them into ITAW (It’s Taken A While, the album).
Your debut record ‘It’s Taken a While’ is due out on April 22nd. What can you tell us about it?
It’s Taken A While is a project that has been in the works for a good 16-18 months now, hence the name which to my closest friends is a little ironic but I couldn’t rename it if I tried! ITAW genre-wise is Electronic/Alternative R&B and that’s how I would define my own style. There’s a different singer on each track which reflects the individuality of each song, but they all play a part in the album’s story. Every project I look to do will have it’s own story and persona with characters that play roles; making my album like a mini-movie. It’s also had a massive re-work too. I wrote around 25, perhaps 30 songs altogether since last Spring alone, which has now been whittled down to 8, possibly 9 (if sample clearances go ahead). ‘Better’s about the two characters falling for each-other and how everything is so good with them and life right now, but in the latter track ‘Bleed Out’ this switches to a horror story – a complete turn up of the script. The Weeknd once described ‘Kiss Land’ as a horror movie, ‘Bleed Out’ and ITAW as a whole is my version, and hopefully there’s people out there who will love it.