AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with HENRY JAMISON

Photo Credit: Patrick McCormack

“My vocabulary got pretty big, pretty fast. My songs are organically a little wordy, though, I don’t say to myself, ‘I’m a wordy person, so I’m going to use all the words I know,’” explains dry-witted Vermont-based singer/songwriter Henry Jamison, who grew up with an English professor and a composer, otherwise respectively known as “mom and dad.” “I was young when I started writing songs, they were about how I didn’t want to go to school, and about Santa, you know, wish fulfillment songs,” he adds with a laugh, and recalls a childhood without action figures, television, or computer games, where imagination and innovation were the tools for entertainment—and then there was music. “I played guitar in the sense that I would put it on the floor and hit it with a wooden spoon. Actually, it was more like a pots and pans and guitar kind of set up, pieces for vocals and percussion,” he says.

After a stint in orchestras and a youth folk choir, where participants explored everything from sacred harp singing to African folk songs ( “It was a rag-tag kind of hippie kind of thing,”  he recalls), his teenage horizons broadened when he discovered rock n’ roll. “I rebelled, not a crazy rebellion, but a little rebellion, and got more interested in rock than classical music,” Jamison says. In the songs from his forthcoming solo debut, The Wilds, set for release on October 27th via Akira Records, this unique blend of influences is on full display—poetic lyrics delicately planted in a folk rock-inspired landscape, decorated with lush layers of sonic ambience, and accented with orchestral elements.“I write to encapsulate my worldview at the time, things that happen to me but also a broader philosophical outlook on them. It starts as gibberish and ends up as lyrics,” he says of his process, and admits the recording process was a long one.

“There was a lot around it,” he continues. “Imagine a big tapestry—the record was made from something cut from the middle of the tapestry, but all around it is a big mess of threads and other shit on there,” he says with a laugh. “It took a lot to narrow what I wanted to do, sound-wise and thematically. A lot of the songs I write are boy-girl songs, but there’s a percentage that are symbolic, pure poetry without a clear story. It took two years to get it all figured out and make it cohesive.” The album was recorded in a very “Vermont” atmosphere, in a mountain forest cabin-turned-studio on a maple sugar farm. “I live in Burlington, which is one of the most urban zones in Vermont, it’s a little grimier than what people tend to think of when they imagine Vermont,” he laughs. “A lot of people will go into the country to record, there’s a pilgrimage aspect to it. The scene was way more ‘Vermont’ than I expected it to be.”

On August 24th, Jamison, whose music has garnered millions of streams from over a million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, will begin a full band tour, dazzling hard-won fans in the States and across Europe. “I appreciate the fans I have; they’re very dedicated. I am excited to visit them, and I hope this time, they’ll bring their friends,” he says. “I feel like a diplomat, going out and telling people something I’m about, but not telling all,” he adds. “Maybe they’ll stick around for the rest.”

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