Jamie T - Pacemaker

People should chill out - one minute you're the next big thing and the next you're shit. - Jamie T
Feature by Billy Hamilton.
Published 10 February 2007
Jamie T is hardly an ideal candidate for voice of a generation. His warbled South London flow is at best mystifying; at worst completely incomprehensible. Yet if those languid 'Stars Of 2007' lists are to be believed, he's set to become the new Mike Skinner, Lilly Allen, or Dizzee Rascal, because Jamie T's eclectic fusion of indie-dancehall-punk has been tagged with the label that has been an albatross around the neck of many an emerging artist – the Next Big Thing.

But when The Skinny catches up with the 20 year-old Wimbledonian he's in no mood to rise to the pedestal that accompanies such glowing accolades: "It's weird when someone calls me the next big thing," he says sharply. "People should chill out - one minute you're the next big thing and the next you're shit. To me, its just writing music. I've always loved it and I always will."

This intrinsic appreciation of musical form is embodied by debut LP 'Panic Prevention' – a record that owes as much to Studio One as it does The Beastie Boys or The Clash. But Jamie is ill at ease with the thought of categorising his unique sound: "I've no clue what I'm doing. I just fuck around with stuff and it comes out but I'm not going to say it's unconformist and you can't pigeonhole it. I do what ever I want to do and if I want to make an album of punk rock tunes like Tom Waits then I will - I'm not trying to be diverse."

Yet diverse is exactly what 'Panic Prevention' is. Named after Jamie's struggle to contain childhood anxiety attacks, the record's production mirrors its composer's ramshackle nature: "It's a bit of a mish-mash really - I recorded it all over the place: in my bedroom, my mates shack and a London Bridge Studio," he says sheepishly. "It doesn't have much continuity but I'm proud of it for that. It's based on a mix-tape in the way I put it together, thinking where to bring the tempo up and down."

A love of mix tapes contributed to the notoriety surrounding Jamie's early gigs, where he used to hand out compilations of his favourite tracks. Swollen crowds have put a stop to his musical philanthropy but he continues to romanticise the joys in sharing music: "It's lovely to give mix tapes to people of the stuff you enjoy listening to yourself," he effuses. "Now we've got the iPod generation where people are just flicking all the time and the mystic of sharing mix-tapes has gone. There's nothing nicer than having to sit and listen to something you're making for your friends."

Armed with just an acoustic bass, those first shows were notoriously often erratic and painstakingly unintelligible, but with the initiation of a new band Jamie's gigs have become more cohesive experiences. "At the start, I was sitting about on a stool and getting a bit bored. I really wanted to make people dance so I got my mates drunk and made them form a band with me" he explains. "The live stuff is much faster and beatier than before – it's like the older I get the more I want to speed it up."

So what's next for the newly accelerated Jamie T? "I've written most of my second record and am itching to get into the studio and start recording," he says proudly. "I wanna be playing places like Berlin where the beer's cheap and the culture's wicked. America's never interested me; it doesn't fill me with joy. Unlike some, I really don't want to be (begins singing in a mock Johnny Borrell style) playing in America."