Jahméne might not yet be a household name, but given the extraordinary power of his new single Down For Love, his global ascendancy seems to be simply a matter of time. Indeed, since the release of his acclaimed debut album, Love Never Fails back in 2013, Jahméne has moved from strength to strength, barely taking a moment to pause.
Although no one would hold him accountable if he decided to sit back and bathe in the popularity of that album – it entered The Album Chart at number one – he instead immediately began to hone his very particular set of skills, working in studios around the world with a host of internationally renowned artists. But it hasn’t all just been about the music, either. Jahméne is also a passionate advocate for charity, and has worked closely with Woman’s Aid, an organisation that aims to aid those affected by domestic abuse.
Now, with a new name and a stunning, powerful new style, Jahméne has dropped his electric single Down For Love. An emotive, charged number it is the kind of tune that can make the hairs on the back of one’s neck prickle, and its power and sincerity is genuinely awe-inspiring.
We spoke to Jahméne about the single, his upbringing, and the extraordinary power of his music.
Joseph Earp: How are you and where in the world does our interview find you today?
Jahméne: Hello, I am blessed thank you. I’m currently at home watching some new episodes from ‘The Simpsons.’
JE: Down For Love has such a striking, powerful lyric. Was there a direct real world experience that inspired the song?
J: Thank you. I always love that the meaning in a song can be taken and interpreted into a person’s situation so that the message is unique to them. Down For Love for me is an encouragement to a person’s situation in regards to love, whether with a partner, friend or family member. [It’s about how you shouldn’t] throw [love] away but hold onto it even if it’s hard. Work at it because we’re built for it … So are you down for it?
JE: What came first with the song: the melody or the lyrics? Was it ultimately a painless experience writing the song?
J: I initially wrote this song with Danvinché and it all came bit by bit. We focused on the message so that we could move forward on the same page into our melodies. Once we had the message for the song every thing fell into place. I like Davinchés’ dedication to his focus in being on the same page as you to get into the same headspace to create. We then brought Tim Kellet in to help with the bridge to get fresh ears to the song and bring something different to the vibe we were working with. After that it was just a matter of getting the best mix and off to the mastering room it went.
JE: The song features some really interesting instrumentation: did you have that in mind for the track from the very beginning?
J: From the get go Davinché made sure that he was as clear as he could be with what I had in mind for the song.
As soon as he understood what the direction was I waited for the magic to happen with the production. I referenced old school RnB/hip Hop tunes from moments like P.Diddy partnering up with Mary J Blige. I will never become bored of the excitement that lies in the process of hearing a song I’m working on come to life!
JE: You have very deliberately taken more of a creative control with your work recently. Was there something specific that prompted the decision to do that?
J: I’m someone who revels and grows in creativity. My mother’s an incredible artist and poet so from young I’ve just always enjoyed being imaginative and creative in reflection of her. It’s only natural for me then to have that when working on something I am so passionate about … It gives you more a sense of purpose when your passion has something that’s birthed from you. Making a cover album was unavoidable, still a blessing, but not as rewarding as this process has been. I love to write, especially poetry so when it comes to my songs I have to get my heart in there through not only my voice but my words too.
What prompted that? … Having the opportunity to do so.
JE: Critics have used a number of labels to describe your music. How would you describe it? Is there a particular genre you feel comfortable identifying with?
J: I’m inspired by so many different sounds and you’ll hear that through the album. I believe the sound lies across the genres soul and RnB. Being a Christian I sing and write from a place of message and ministering which brings in what people would call a Gospel sound. I’ve looked to Whitneys’ My Love Is Your Love album a lot during this second album.
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JE: Your debut album Love Never Fails entered The Album Chart at #1 in 2013. How did a success like that affect you?
J: Because it wasn’t things I hadn’t written, it’s not something I have mentally noted as a success, but something that helped me understand that there is support out there and people who are waiting for the original songs and the album I’ve been waiting for years to make. I can’t wait to get that to those people who I am so grateful for and to a whole new audience too. I guess the first album prepared me in a crash course way for the 2nd album.
JE: Was there ever a eureka moment when you decided music was what you wanted to do with the rest of your life?
J: I have always said that music has been a sanctuary for me and an uplifting place to zone out to and source strength from and singing has always been a release. When I realised that my music and my voice was that for other people through feedback I took on the responsibility to create the best sanctuary I could in each song I sing and write. I would say that eureka moment would’ve been with my mother when I was younger and she would hear me sing. She’s always made me aware of how it’s helped her.
JE: Was yours a very musical household growing up?
J: My father didn’t like me singing so I had to wait for the moments he wasn’t in. I’ve always listened to music, collected music and craved music. I used to sit in front of the hifi system for hours playing through all my Mums CDs, flicking through all the sleeves for lyrics and reading who the songwriters were, the producers, and singing along until I could hit all the notes Whitney was hitting or harmonising along with Simon and Art Garfunkel or Destiny’s Child. I remember, when she could, my mum used to blast out things like Shanice, Whitney, Eurythmics, Bob Marley and all of us would dance.
JE: Who would you identify as your mentor in the music business? Has there been someone who helped guide you?
J: I would say vocally it has always been Whitney Houston. For singers, mentors are those you listen to and Whitney is definitely a singer’s singer. As a friend in the music business Nicole Scherzinger has been a brilliant support and guidance. She’s such an amazing person to turn to and never fails to inspire me and make me laugh, listen or talk.
JE: Tell me something you’ve never told an interviewer before.
J: I want the cast of Friends to get back together and continue making episodes until they die.
Down For Love is out now.