ABOVE: JAYMES YOUNG. PHOTO COURTESY OF ATLANTIC RECORDS.
The habits of 23-year-old singer-songwriter Jaymes Young have brought him both exhilaration and heartache. “I’ve been cheated on several times; I’ve done it to people too, so touché. It’s made me who I am,” the L.A.-native tells us. “I don’t see myself as one of those sad romantics, but love is the most important thing in the world and the only way we get anything done. I see it as a pretty important topic to write about.”
Habits of My Heart, Young’s most recent EP release via Atlantic records, is a tender account of love enveloped woozy, electronic-tinged R&B. “The music is bigger than myself,” says Young. “I’m not making it to serve myself. I’m really making it for people who are hurting and need to know that there is something that they can relate to and hold on to.”
Earlier this year, Young’s song “Best Shot” with Birdy was featured on theThe Fault In Our Stars soundtrack. Tomorrow, the musician will begin a two-month tour through North America with Vance Joy, which you can get a glimpse of below with our exclusive premiere of his “Come Back For Me” live rehearsal video.
JESSIE MORRIS: What were you like in high school?
JAYMES YOUNG: I think I was one of those who didn’t get as involved as the average classmate. I wasn’t into my classes besides a few select subjects like Astronomy and English. I skipped a good chunk of days and ended up dropping out my senior year. Maybe I was a bit of a hermit, finding more enjoyment in things I was learning and doing outside of school and the social scene that came with it. I had a few close friends who are still some of my closest today. I was into the nerdy stuff, not big on partying. And I had terrible hair.
MORRIS: What are your earliest musical memories?
YOUNG: My earliest musical memories would be playing random keys on a grand piano I had growing up and writing poetry that seemed like it should go to music before I ever actually gave any lyrics a tune.
MORRIS: When did you first realize you could sing?
YOUNG: Singing didn’t come quickly; I went through phases where it felt good and phases where it didn’t. Over the years, I found my voice more so in the songs I sang than in the actual way I sang.
MORRIS: What comes first for you—music or lyrics?
YOUNG: Lyrics usually would come first for me, but now that I’ve been producing more and more it’s kind of a coin toss. I believe that having a few great lyrics is always a good way to start a song, but melodies and music come and go often.
MORRIS: You just released your Habits Of My Heart EP with your rework of Sufjan Stevens’ “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” as the EP’s debut track. Were these songs a long time coming or recent songs written as a prologue to a forthcoming album?
YOUNG: Ironically enough, “Habits Of My Heart” was the least planned of the five. Of course it was easy to vibe off of such a beautiful piece of piano and the rest happened in about a day. We didn’t release that song too long after it was written and recorded. “Come Back For Me” is a re-work of an acoustic song I wrote years ago so you could say that was maybe a long time coming…but you’d also be correct to assume that this EP pretty much spawned from an influx of songs that are being constructed for an album.
MORRIS: What is your favorite song of yours and can you tell us a little about why?
YOUNG: I’m not sure if I have a favorite song of my own. I split up the same emotive ideas into many songs, so all of my songs are made of the same stuff, at least from my own perspective. But I do favor some songs more often than others. “Wondering” from my first release is probably one of the more personal songs I’ve written and that keeps me quite close to it.
MORRIS: A lot of your music is confessional and personal. What has the response been like from people in your life who might have realized a song was about them or understood a different side of you?
YOUNG: I’m not sure if many people know that a song might be specifically about them or not. They’d have to listen pretty closely and pay attention only to a few clues here and there. Everybody gets their heart broken and breaks other peoples hearts at some point, so I don’t like to point fingers in the music. That’s what helps keep things attainable for people who are going through similar things. I also never failed to communicate how I’ve felt in any relationships I’ve had in the past, so I’m pretty sure that friends and past love interests probably wouldn’t be surprised by anything I would write about them… or myself.
MORRIS: This year you began a Tumblr where you posted emails from fans about their connection to your music and the trials and triumphs your music helped them through. Where did the idea of creating the website and sharing fans’ stories stem from?
YOUNG: The idea to share those stories came to me one night after reading through a number of touching emails that I had received. I thought it would be nice for people to have a place where they could share their burdens with others who were going through similar things.
MORRIS: You went on a huge international tour with London Grammar last year. What was the best takeaway from that experience?
YOUNG: The best takeaway from the London Grammar tour was first and foremost the experience, but also just the realization that I’m finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do
MORRIS: What was the last concert you went to that you weren’t performing at?
YOUNG: The last concert I went to was at The Greek Theater. The Postal Service headlined. That was a little bit too long ago!
MORRIS: You’re about to start a national tour with Vance Joy. Any piece of advice you would give concertgoers coming to the show?
YOUNG: To concert-goers, grab a ticket because I hear they’re dropping like flies! But really, I’d love to see you out there and our set will be a change up from last year with a couple songs we didn’t play from previous releases and some new tunes included as well.
CATCH JAYMES ON TOUR ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BEGINNING TOMORROW, OCTOBER 17 WITH VANCE JOY. PICK HABITS OF MY HEART IS OUT NOW VIA ATLANTIC RECORDS.