- Wed, 2009-08-05 12:34
After releasing his debut album Beta Male Fairytales in 2007, Ben's Brother, aka Jamie Hartman, followed with second album Battling Giants in 2009. Released on his own label Flat Cap Records, the album featured collaborations with Jason Mraz and Joss Stone, as well as first single Apologise, which was co-written by Natalie Imbruglia.
Aside from writing and releasing his own material, Jamie Hartman has been a songwriter for just over twenty years. Having written for the likes of Will Young, Nate James and Emma Bunton, as well as collaborating with songwriters across the globe, Jamie has recieved Ivor Novello awards, Brit award nominations and now has over 50 record cuts to his name. I Like Music caught up with Jamie to chat about his new album, his process of writing, finding and discovering new songs and his plans for the future.
"I Like Music because… It’s such a massive part of me. Without it I don’t think I’d still be breathing.” Jamie Hartman, Ben's Brother
ILM: How would you describe the vibe of Battling Giants?
Jamie: Much more optimistic. Still personal. But a little bit more hopeful. A definite development from the first record. I felt it was a big step forward, in music and life. I mean, the difference between being with EMI and then suddenly going on your own to make all the decisions yourself. Being the record company, the artist and the co-producer as well. It was a big leap to take, but definitely one I was glad I made.
ILM: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt through setting up Flat Cap Records?
Jamie: The simplest answer is that I’ve learnt to follow my gut instinct, to do what feels right for me at the time. It’s quite hard to do that sometimes when it’s scary as hell and you’re spending your own money. But I do think a lot of people forget to listen to their gut. I was lucky as well, you can’t forget the element of luck!
ILM: How would you describe your process of making music?
Jamie: The process was the same. I worked with some new people but the way I approached it was the same. I’m twenty years into song writing now. I’ve been doing it since I was quite young. I definitely follow a pattern. I write quite phonetically. So I’ll get a melody in my head or a group of chords first. I rarely write from lyrics. I sing the melody over and over again and find sounds that feel right. From that I’ll form the words. I don’t really have a clue how that comes about. I think songs are out there and you end up picking up on them a lot of the time.
Jamie: Yeah, It sounds bullsh**ty, but a lot of songwriters believe that you do occasionally get lucky and tap into something that is just floating around out there. That you just happen to be the one that picks it up that day. If you’ve been doing it for quite a period of time, you’ll find that’s true. Some people are just more in tune with it. It took me a little longer to get into it than other people, but you do know if you’ve got something great.
ILM: You do? How can you tell?
Jamie: You can feel if you’ve picked up on something special. I think a lot of people bull sh*t themselves into thinking they have, but again, it’s gut instinct. You realise you’ve got something different. The listener usually notices as well, straight away. A lot of songs sound like other songs. There are a lot of half arsed songs which nearly sound like something great, but others which just stand out.
ILM: You’ve collaborated with many different artists and song writers. Which of your collaborations have you found the most rewarding?
Jamie: My most rewarding collaborations probably don’t come from other artists, but from working with other writers who I really get on with. The are so many good writers out there. A lot of amazing talent. Artist wise, I really enjoyed working with Natalie Imbruglia. A great little song came together from that. As far as artist collaboration, having Jason Mraz and Joss Stone on Battling Giants was pretty amazing.
ILM: What would be your advice to anyone looking to get into the music industry?
Jamie: Patience, hardwork and more than anything, persistence. A gut feeling too. Simon Cowell has made everyone realise that not everyone has a talent for it. For me, that has to be a pre-requisite. That should be the basic starting point. If you’ve got talent, that’s a basic. It’s not the end point, where you go “Great, I’m ready!” Talent is a starting point that you work from. You can work like a lunatic for years. A lot of people assume it will happen over-night. The best advice I can give to people is you’re nuts, go and find something much more sensible to do! Get yourself some proper money. Or, if you’re absolutely determined to do it, make sure you’re good at it and then start working.
ILM: When you look back at your career so far, what have been the biggest highlights for you?
Jamie: Getting signed to EMI. That was one of them. Before that, being nominated for an Ivor Novello. The Brit Award for the Will Young song All Time Love, that was amazing too! Being able to work with amazing people on my record and to finally hear my own record, that I’ve put together myself, finished. That was a bit of a thrill! Being signed to Island again, very recently! Oh, and playing to 35,000 people at Hyde Park Calling! 35,000 people singing my songs was just crazy!
ILM: What are your future plans?
Jamie: Loads of songs really. I’ve written a bunch of songs with a lot of different artists. So there will be a number of songs with my name on them coming out. I’m looking forward to people hearing them! I can’t wait to be back out there and touring. I can’t wait for people to really get to know about Battling Giants. I think Island will take it to a much bigger level than I could have done on my own. Hopefully the next two or three singles will allow people to hear what the album is all about.
ILM: What music have you been listening to recently?
Jamie: I’m a bit of a rocker at heart. I love great rock bands. For me there are two or three great rock bands out there at the moment. I love The Killer’s records, they’re a bit dancey but I still think they’re good. I quite like the Florence and The Machine record. Although there’s nothing massively floating my boat from England at the moment. We’ll see.