Rising Alt-Pop Artist Jaymes Young on Breakthrough Phoebe Ryan Collab and Weed As a Creative Tool

Lexus Gallegos
Jaymes Young

Jaymes Young is at the brink of his career with the announcement of his highly anticipated debut album, Feel Something (June 23) and his first headlining tour, kicking off July 11 throughout North America. The breakout alt-pop artist spent countless hours with his compositions and poured his heart and soul into his music -- urging people to let go and just “feel something.” 

“I think a lot of people, especially from the younger generations, are experiencing sort of a disconnect emotionally for whatever reason,” Young explains when describing his new lead single.

The sentiment behind his music centers on the idea of embracing all your feelings instead of running away from them. O his album, Young confronts those emotions head on with his impressionistic lyrics, and eclectic productions that pull in listeners.

Before the arrival of recent singles, “Feel Something’ and “Stoned On You," his breakthrough came by way of his duet collaboration “We Won’t,” with fellow budding underground pop artist, ​Phoebe Ryan, which has accumulated over 20 million streams on Spotify and hit No. 1 on Hype Machine. The track, which Young describes as one that just "clicked" right away, will also be featured on the new album.  

Gearing up for his forthcoming tour, the songwriter-at-heart is mostly looking forward to experiencing the live side of the music scene rather than the creative part. Young produced and recorded his songs in a little house next to his bedroom, where he was able to experiment and explore new sounds. Although, there is not one definite genre the singer settles on, he describes his music as ‘indie-alternative-pop-singer-songwriter” with no limitations on exploring more. 

Before he leaves on tour, Jaymes spoke with Billboard to share his overall thoughts on Feel Something, the inspiration behind his new singles, and weed as a creative tool. 

First tell me about your new single “Feel Something” -- what’s the song about?

That song happened in the eleventh hour of the process of making that album. In the last two years, I’ve gone through a whole spectrum of experiences and different things that I have been trying to incorporate in my writing and in my music. I think a lot of people, especially from the younger generations are experiencing sort of a disconnect emotionally for whatever reason. I wanted to reach out to listeners and share the sentiment that people want to experience emotions and no matter what those emotions are -- the negative ones and the positive ones. The song is just about experiencing and embracing life as it comes to you. Taking the good and the bad as it is.

As the title track, how does this song set the tone for the whole album?

A lot of the music that I have put out in the past focused more on negative emotions or melancholy stuff and I just wanted to as a theme feel something. Embracing all those feelings and that’s what I tried to do on the album. I would say there’s definitely some more uplifting sounds and ideas on the album as opposed to what I put out in the past. It really just sums it up in those two words [Feel Something].

How was process different from your previous releases? What’s your favorite part of the recording process?

As a debut album, there’s always a little bit of pressure to create something great and something better than you ever made before, because it’s your first album and it has an energy around that idea -- kind of makes it feel like a big deal. Those were some new feelings I had and dealt with before. 95% of the album was produced and written in house -- basically in a little house that I used to live in and it was right next to my bedroom.

So, the process didn’t really change but I started expecting different things for myself. The entire album process was a huge learning curve for me, because I expected higher quality in all aspects from recording to production to writing.

You also just dropped another new tune “Stoned On You” -- when did you first write that, and what headspace were you in during that time?

I first wrote that in the middle of 2016, and I hadn’t had a lot of songs that were positive love songs. I wanted to put out a song that reflected the crazy feeling you get when your head-over-heels for somebody and infatuated. That’s what it feels like to me when I’m in that space and I meet somebody and let somebody in. It’s very intense and you feel like you’re stoned on the person. I really wanted to write something that was about the sexier aspect of being in a relationship with someone, but while still keeping a little bit of substance and meaning in the verses of the other parts of the song.

With a song named after being stoned, how do you feel about weed as a creative tool? Any thoughts on the current socio-political state of cannabis in the US? 

I’m not a huge fan of politics. I try to just be honest with myself and try to be the change you want to see. I know there’s a lot of people that benefit psychologically and physically from the medical benefits. I really believe that it shouldn't be federally illegal. As far as on the creative side, I tend to get a little too distracted when I indulge. Every once in a while I’ll use it and I’m sure there’s been an occasion or two where I got an idea from that.  

Let’s talk about your collaboration with Phoebe Ryan on the track, “We Won’t” -- how did that come about?

I think originally, I had reached out to my manager after hearing some stuff she had done and we organized a little get together. I think it was that first day that I was in with her that we started writing “We Won’t.” It happened really fast over the course of one or two days. It was a really good experience.

How has it been to see that song blow up (over 26 million streams on Spotify) -- was that exciting to see?

It’s kind of funny when songs happen so fast like that. It was super easy to work with Phoebe and sometimes you don’t gel super well with other people you collaborate with. When things happen that quickly and they feel that easy, you're kind of surprised those turn out to be the best songs usually. It feels weird because you’re like, “Well I spent a month on this song, but it’s not doing so well, and spent two days on this song, and it’s doing really well.” I was surprised that it got the attention that it did.

Overall, I’m stoked and really happy. I think it’s been super fun to do a song that’s in a duet form with somebody else, because I get to hear that excitement with another artist, which is awesome.

 

chillin hard with @phoeberyan

A post shared by Jaymes Young (@jaymesyng) on

What can we expect from your tour coming up and what’s production like on the show?

Well, I’m in the middle of that right now. It’s going well. We’re going to be playing an array of songs from previous releases to new stuff. I think this is going to be the best production and live set that I get to do. Also, it’s my first [headlining show] so that’s exciting, and we get to get up on stage and actually enjoy those moments because it’s 25 or 30 minutes. It comes and goes really, really fast so this will be a little bit more time to engage with people on stage and getting really comfortable with that.

Who were some of your biggest influences growing up?

My parents listened to a lot of different kinds of music and artists but a lot of early ones for me that really stuck with me were [artists] like Radiohead, Iron & Wine and Elliott Smith. Of course, being from Seattle I had my grunge phase, and occasionally I still go back to that just to remember what it was like.

As a breakthrough artist, is there anyone currently on the rise that you’ve been listening to a lot lately?

This girl that goes by the name Nova that has a song called, “Mother” that I really enjoy. There’s another girl named Skott. She’s super great, I’ve been listening to her -- she’s got an amazing voice.

Catch Jaymes on tour beginning July 11 performing at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Check out additional tour dates below. 

2017 NORTH AMERICAN SUMMER FEEL SOMETHING TOUR
7/11 – Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA
7/13 – Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA
7/14 – Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR
7/15 – The Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, BC
7/16 – The Crocodile – Seattle, WA
7/19 – Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO
7/21 – recordBar – Kansas City, MO
7/22 – Beat Kitchen – Chicago, IL
7/23 – The Shelter – Detroit, MI
7/25 – Velvet Underground – Toronto, ON
7/27 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
7/28 – The Sinclair – Boston, MA
7/29 – The Foundry – Philadelphia, PA
7/30 – Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
8/1 – Vinyl – Atlanta, GA
8/2 – Exit/In – Nashville, TN

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.