He tells NME about pushing the boat out into ‘sparkly’ new territory
Jamie N Commons has just released his new single ‘Paper Dreams’, the first taste of a new direction for the musician that takes in influences from ’80s pop hits like Paul Simon‘s ‘You Can Call Me Al’, Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ and Toto’s ‘Africa’.
The track is taken from Commons’ new project ‘The Fever Dreams’, with a steady stream of new releases on their way throughout the coming months and a long-awaited debut album due some time next year.
The lead single still bares a taste of his blues-rock past, but provides a hint of what’s to come. “We thought this was a good one to start out with because it mixes in a bit of a blues element whilst also utilising the new sounds and bringing in the new references that will continue over the next few songs,” he tells NME.
The wildest departures from his old sound are still to come, Commons continues. “There’s a few songs that are pushing so far into that eighties world that it’s quite exciting! They go so much more so towards the gratuitously eighties stuff that they become really far out and sparkly.”
‘Paper Dreams’ was influenced by heartbreak, and is laden with images of dreams flying away in the breeze. “Looking back I realise I was writing quite personally,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure out the personal side of my life I suppose, you fail and hopefully take a lesson then move on to the next one. It’s a universal theme, though, the slightly doomed love affair!”
That said, Commons’ overall aim is to produce a happier brand of music than many of his contemporaries. “It’d be easy to do it the other way around – dark and interesting and plumbing the depths of your soul. It’s actually really hard to make something really happy.”
Musically the single veers from blues to straight-up pop, with a bit of neo-soul thrown in for good measure.
“The chorus stood out to me as having a modern Beck side to it,” Commons says, “which is great because I’m absolutely obsessed with him. The synthesizers go a little bit more spacey and into that realm.
“When I first wrote it with a producer it was shocking that the two matched up so well, because in my mind they’re such separate genres. That’s what I really like about this song, it shifts to something else and it still works, which is always hard to do.”
He addresses the blurring of genre-distinctions that’s happening everywhere in pop with mixed emotions. “It’s good that people are listening to a broader spectrum of music, but the broader the spectrum of music the less focus there is on one thing, and the less special that one thing is. You don’t get music that becomes ‘legendary’ like Queen or Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or The Beatles any more. People listen to one song each for 20 bands, you don’t get the same ‘cultural icon’ thing, and that’s kind of sad.
“I don’t know if we’ll get another moment in history defined by a band like that. Obviously it’s not a black and white thing, but you like the stories and the mythology of bands like that, even if it was manufactured by wonderful PRs.”