20:20 — 20 questions, 20 answers
Published August 23, 2020
In Part 4 of our series, Jayme Stone—musician, composer, instigator, producer, and educator—tells us about the art with which he surrounds himself in order to compose his music, when he knew COVID-19 was changing his world, and about an unchronicled perfect performance.
Jayme Stone | Photos by Shervin Lainez | Photos courtesy of Jayme Stone
20:20 with Jayme Stone
NWM 1: You shared that “AWake is a huge aesthetic and emotional departure for [you].” Tell us about this new project and how it differs from your other work.
Jayme: I’ve made several world-wide roots music records so this record is a departure aesthetically and emotionally. I started writing these songs in the wake of my brother’s death and wanted a whole new sound, palette, and way of making music.
I see my whole life as a creative process.
NWM 2: How do you express your creativity other than through music?
Jayme: I see my whole life as a creative process. I try to bring the same focus and spirit to the way I parent, navigate my career, put art on my walls, write emails or walk around the neighborhood.
NWM 3: Name three things that make you smile.
Jayme: My wife, my kids and our new puppy.
NWM 4: What is your favorite Jayme Stone composition?
Jayme: I’m pretty proud of this song from my new album.
Jayme: I’ve been doing a kind of improvised dance called Contact Improvisation for the last twenty years. I usually move my body with a whole bunch of people in a room every Sunday. That experience of touch and play is what I miss most.
NWM 6: Strangest road story?
Jayme: I saw Amadou and Miriam play a festival at the institute for the blind they had met at as children in Bamako, Mali. It was an all-day, all-night dance party and most of the audience was blind. The music was electrifying and the scene was wild.
The music was electrifying and the scene was wild.
NWM 7: What are your special interests beyond music?
Jayme: I love graphic design. I’ve always done the creative direction for my album covers and done a little design myself. With more time on my hands during quarantine I’m starting to study design a little more. Not sure where it will lead, but I love working with color, shape and type. It feels a lot like composing music.
NWM 8: What in particular fuels your inspiration? Tell us about your space or what is most necessary for your writing.
Jayme: My studio is tidy and organized but full of bright colors and art. I have some outsider art plywood sculptures made by my friend Sam Bartlett and pieces from my last couple of records: framed drawings of elder folk musicians and some handmade mobiles. I mostly need a notebook and an instrument, but also rely on a laptop and a couple of trusty microphones.
NWM 9: What was your most memorable performance and/or venue?
Jayme: I played a sold-out show at Koerner Hall in Toronto. The theater has a strict policy of no photographs or videos so everyone can stay immersed in the experience. Though I often wish we could have captured that glorious show, it lives on in my memory in a special way—not tainted by social media or anything.
The human voice is the most fascinating instrument and we all have one!
NWM 10: Prince or Bowie?
Jayme: Powie. Bop. Wince. Pop. Wowie. Woe. Rinse.
NWM 11: What song/album could you play on repeat?
Jayme: Nils Frahm, “Solo.”
NWM 12: Where were you and what were you doing when you realized COVID-19 had just changed your life as a performance artist?
Jayme: I had just come home from a tour and writing retreat. I remember having lunch with a friend one day talking about how he might need to cancel one or two shows on his upcoming tour and the very next day realizing that it was all over indefinitely for all of us.
NWM 13: I’m sure there are more names than you have time to list, but who jumps out as the biggest influence on your music or career?
Jayme: There’s someone for every phase! Early on, I’d say Bill Frisell. These days, Justin Vernon from Bon Iver.
NWM 14: What instrument holds the most fascination for you and do you play it?
Jayme: The human voice is the most fascinating instrument and we all have one!
NWM 15: What are your non-musical gifts/talents?
Jayme: Connecting dots. Connecting people.
NWM 16: Has anything positive come out of the COVID shut-down?
Jayme: I don’t think the protests after the killing of George Floyd would have had the same impact if we weren’t in that stage of quarantine. People were less distracted, more available and more receptive to what the Black Lives Matter movement had been saying for years. Hopefully the momentum will continue.
NWM 17: If you could see anyone from throughout history perform who would it be?
Jayme: Bach, Robert Johnson and the first performance of Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians.”
NWM 18: Favorite movie?
NWM 19: Do you think 2020 will be looked back upon as a songwriters’ renaissance?
Jayme: Songs are vital, but I think we’ll have plenty of other things to talk about when looking back on 2020.
NWM 20: What is one thing you would want our readers to know about which we might not know to ask?
Jayme: My new album (out on August 28) will be released with an immersive website. It’s designed to be liner notes for the digital age, complete with videos, lyrics and behind-the-scenes visuals of the album’s inspirations.
Jayme Stone is from Toronto, lives in Colorado and has released eight records (including Folklife, Lomax Project and Africa to Appalachia). He’s won two Juno Awards and three Canadian Folk Awards. Stone has worked with Margaret Glaspy, Julian Lage, Tim O’Brien (to name a few) and tour highlights include Lincoln Center (New York), Kennedy Center (DC), Celtic Connections (Glasgow), Bumbershoot, Vancouver Folk Festival, Savannah Music Festival, NPR All Things Considered, NPR Mountain Stage, and more.
Jayme’s new album and immersive website for AWake will be available August 28. Until then learn more about him at https://jaymestone.com/.
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