Photo Credit: Heather Hanson
“To all the boys I’ve loved, I think of them fondly even long after those relationships have deteriorated. After a friendship ends, for me the memories start to feel tainted.” – Jame Doe
When one hears electronic music, they don’t often think of depth. They think, “Well, that’s going to make me move.” Which, yeah. It’s great for a beat, but what Jame Doe has done is create music that while at times defies the constrictions of genres, does have layers upon layers of emotion. From friendships to growing up, it’s like a coming of age movie put to song, presented by a 26-year-old who is still figuring things out but doing a damn good job. We talked to Jame Doe about not only all of the above but what’s coming up from performances to a well-deserved trip to an alpaca farm.
Kendra: When you first started getting serious about making music, were you in the electropop field or did you mess around with other sounds before you came to what felt right for you and what you wanted to say?
Jame Doe: I still struggle to figure out where I fit. I’m right now in the mentality of “fuck genres” because I think about the six-minute ballad we play last in our set, “Fantasies in Tel Aviv.” It’s only two chords the entire time that we play off this synth pad. Though we recorded the chords on a real piano we play them electronically. Is that song an electropop song? Does that make me only electropop? It’s hard to determine and I’m still figuring out how to reference myself.
When I think about my songs I really think of them all as dramatic ballads that happen to have totally different moods and instrumentation. Even “Garden with No Water” in my head feels like a ballad, but it’s a fun, bedroom pop ballad. Definitely my lightest and most bubbly song.
Kendra: Electronic music has come such a long way in the last decade or so that it’s more likely that a song is interlaced with electronic beats than not. Why do you feel more and more mainstream artists are taking on the genre or elements of?
Jame Doe: I love that people are using these electronic elements in their music, but to me, the quality of the live performance still supersedes it all. An artist should be able to play a set that still feels live even if it is electronic music.
On my end, I don’t play any instruments so this is an issue I grapple with. During a live show, my voice is the only thing I focus on. However, my drummer and synth master Keagan is doing the heavy lifting and it takes a lot of work to make our electronics feel alive during a show. We use live drums and most of our sounds are triggered through a pad.
There needs to be imperfections, that’s what makes a live show so special. Those moments where the beat gets off for a second, a cracked voice, a missing sound effect…when done with passion, that makes the show. It is also nice to not have a ton of heavy equipment to load in during shows; not going to lie!
Kendra: Let’s talk about your electropop music now. “Garden with No Water” has the ability to hit any and everyone in the feels because who hasn’t felt the heartbreak of a friendship ending. Is the road to recovery faster when a friendship ends or a relationship?
Jame Doe: There have been three cases of friendship’s ending in my life, and they’ve hit me far more intensely than any of the boys I’ve smooched. I’m an only child and I’ve always latched on to my friends and almost expect them to do the same. To me, an intense friendship is the most beautiful type of relationship.
Over the last year, I’ve come to realize that there are things I need to personally avoid in other people. I get so excited by intense people who are opinionated on everything. Nothing bores me like a neutral stance, to me, it reeks of dimness. The three friendships that ended were all with people who were wildly excited by things and either loved them or loathed them. In the end, those types of extremes were what pushed our friendships to the limit.
So there’s this issue, internally that I face that I want to be around people that have the potential to hurt me the most, and so when they do I feel that devastation harder than anything. I kinda know I’m setting myself up for it. But I’ve been lucky, it’s only happened three times. Though I still wake up in the middle of the night having reconciliation nightmares.
Kendra: Other than friendships ceasing to exist, you also pen a lot of songs about the inevitable like getting older, and boys. Both are two of life’s mysteries, however, which do you feel you’ve gotten better at grasping over the years?
Jame Doe: I’ve known my boyfriend for five years now and I have to say I’m good at being in a relationship. If we’re out and about we’re allowed to kiss other people, we’re not possessive of each other. Our love is about admiration, not possession, and we’ve been blessed to make a dynamic that works for us.
However, my 26th birthday came, and I’m mildly freaking the fuck out because I put these imaginary timelines on things that I need to achieve. I think I’ve figured boys out for now, but the growing up thing I’m still lost on.
I just wrote this song called “Nothing Stays the Same” about all the things I’ve been willing to change over the years about myself to make me more marketable. Quite frankly, I’m down to change into something I’m not if it means people will have better access to my music. I just want to love who I shift into, that’s my only stipulation. I’m always down to change and always down to grow.
Kendra: I wanted to talk a bit about OUT/LOUD. You’re the co-coordinator of this music event that focused on the Queer scene in Portland. How’d that come about and is there a set location for the event?
Jame Doe: There’s always room for more queer events. I reached out to a friend who did the booking for Kelly’s Olympian (Portland’s oldest bar) and asked him if they’d be down to host a queer music series. I then met another gay artist (Erik Carlson of DoublePlusGood) and we slowly just figured it out. Our Pride show featured two local drag queens, a DJ, prominent queer acts (Frankie Simone + Layperson were there) and it almost sold out.
I wanted a night that’s specifically dedicated to established queer artists. There are open mics for queer performers around town, but to me, there needed to be a dedicated space for queer musicians outside of pride month. We also host ASL interpreters who are sponsored by local queer businesses (like Botanica Floral Design.)
I’ve never organized something like this and while there are a million moving parts it’s a joy to figure out. I’d never say this in any other situation, but it’s honestly fun to read through a thread 50 emails long when it’s with the Out/Loud folks. The people involved are excited (and respond quickly) and it makes it exciting to work on.
Kendra: Before we say goodbye, let’s play a version of FMK but this is Cover, Duet, Tour With. Out of Elton John, Adele, and Fleetwood Mac which would you simply cover in the comfort of your bedroom, which would you do a duet with in the studio, and which would you want to tour with?
Jame Doe: Those are three of my biggest inspirations. I’m not afraid to say I love the booming vocals of commercial music, and in my eyes, these people are Gods. It’s not to say I don’t wildly admire more niche artists, but with the commercial success, these three have, to know that anyone on earth can know who you are, wow that is inspiring.
Put me on tour with Adele, give me a duet with Fleetwood Mac, and I’m covering “Levon” by Elton John in my bedroom.
Kendra: There are a few shows on the books for July. What’s about August? Anything coming up?
Jame Doe: I’ve got a few shows this month. Playing two nights of a pretty unique version of my set. My drummer is on vacation for a week so I’m doing a piano version of my set that a friend is joining on. I’m taking some time in August to record and work on music, to get out into the world. I’m also taking a weekend off to go up to a family member’s alpaca farm about an hour away from Seattle. I’m extraordinarily excited about that.
I live for the moments I get to perform, I wouldn’t quite say I live for the recording studio. It’s a place I struggle, but if I want to make it in this field I have to make the recording studio work for me. It’s been a challenge to capture the magic of a live performance in a padded room. I get self-conscious about my voice (which never happens live) and I always feel like I’m missing the mark.
Kendra: Lastly, let the people know what you have going on right now!
Jame Doe: My life dream is to spend every night on a different stage singing. I’m figuring out slowly but surely how to make that my reality, and I need to take a minute to tell myself how proud I am of being Jame Doe. If you like my songs show a friend, show your mom (mom’s love me,) show your dad (I love daddies,) show anyone. Thanks for being a part of my journey.