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August 2020
Best of 2019

Jamie Lenman: "I had to hold fast and say, 'no, this is what I'm doing'"

Jamie Lenman reflects on one of 2019's album highlight, the ambitious 'Shuffle'.
Published: 2:16 pm, December 11, 2019Words: Alex Bradley.
Jamie Lenman: "I had to hold fast and say, 'no, this is what I'm doing'"

It's been the most planned out years Jamie Lenman has ever had. Back in January, he was working on his album 'Shuffle' and the plan was for Lenmania 2, some festival shows and then a tour.

Well, that all happened without a hitch; he even played Glastonbury and filled in as the frontman of Black Peaks at ArcTanGent along the way.

As for the album, it was a creative explosion which pushed the boundaries of the singer's already fascinating imagination; including in it a film score, a chapter from Moby Dick, a reinvention of the 'Popeye' theme song and a Cyndi Lauper cover to boot.

The idea was bold and, while it's always been evident how technicoloured his tastes are, 'Shuffle' packs all the charisma Jamie possess but rarely shines through in his recordings. So, while 'Shuffle' was made up of other people's work, it was one of most personal dives into the mind of Jamie Lenman yet.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing by any means.

"I had lots of people, including my producer saying, 'I think this is a mistake'," he laughs. "And lots of people predicted the end of my career, and I had to hold fast and say 'no, this is what I'm doing' but I still, with all that tension, I was very worried."

For someone who seems to ooze self-assurance, that hesitation over the album coupled with organising an even bigger and better Lenmania to immediately follow the release made for a very tense few weeks.

What eventually saved Jamie, one night at 3am, was a well-timed review of the album.

"The review in Upset was the first review that I had seen, and it wasn't the point it was a glowing review but more, for me, the realisation that the reviewer understood it and realised straight away that it wasn't a lazy cash-in... 'Oh I haven't got any songs... oh I'm between real albums'.'

"Straight away he made clear to the readership, 'this is a real fucking album' and whatever he said past that, even if he had trashed it - that would have been fine, but the wave of relief that washed over me when I realised at least it is possible for people to to get it, at least this guy understands what I'm trying to do, that was just massive, and that took a lot of the pressure off, and that meant a lot to me."

In his own words, that review was the highlight of his year.

The album was released in early July with all those worries in the run-up to the album long gone. Having stuck to his guns, in the end, Jamie seemed almost annoyed he hadn't alienated himself as much with the concept of the album, and he hadn't managed to "freak out" his fans.

"I think if I hadn't done 'Muscle Memory', 'Shuffle' might have been a bit of a harder sell but because people are prepared for anything then 'Shuffle' went down easier than I thought it would; maybe I still underestimate people,' he explains.

"I thought people were going to be freaked out by 'Muscle Memory' and they weren't and well how can I make that mistake again because I thought people would be freaked out by 'Shuffle' and they weren' that's good, but maybe I should learn my lesson and give my audience credit."

Not to be deterred though, Jamie Lenman teased, "Believe you me, there are a couple of records stewing in the pots which will genuinely test people's faith. I can't tell you more than that, but it's fucking weird!"

Whatever weird concoction the singer is cooking up in those pots should be available to hear sometime in 2020, or at least that is the plan anyway.

"I don't think a whole album, its a bit close to 'Shuffle' which was a heavy, rich, meal that I think will take some time to digest. So, maybe a short format record - an EP or a mini-album or just a single. I would like to do a lot of festivals in the summer. I hate to be coy, but we've got a lot of things we are talking about."

Whatever does come, expect the unexpected.

Taken from the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Upset.

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