You might be familiar with British singer-songwriter Jamie N Commons through his collaborations. He collaborated with X Ambassadors on their 2015 album “VHS” for the songs “Low Life” and “Jungle,” the latter a popular hit that garnered many remixes. Commons is gearing up to release new music for a solo album, some of which he has been playing on tour.
Commons is a self-taught blues musician. He came across blues music growing up. He listened to musicians like Ray Charles and Gregg Allman.
“I really fell in love with that sound. I didn’t really know what it was. And when I figured out it was blues, I basically got into music through that,” Commons said.
He started playing guitar at age 15 or 16. At first he tried to copy the music he listened to as a way to learn guitar.
“I was just trying to copy them as much as possible. After a while, it sounds like a passable impression,” Commons said.
As he learned others’ songs and understood what made them compelling, he started writing his own songs.
Commons finds songwriting a process largely dependent on instinct. He thinks about the topics and stories behind his songs are fairly obvious, and audiences can connect to what he’s singing about.
“I always have to write blues from the subconscious to realize later– but there’s something in your brain that goes like ‘that makes sense, that’s very emotional,’ even though I don’t quite understand what it means at that time,” Commons said.
When he looks back on what he’s written, he realizes his song lyrics are apropos of the stage of life he was in and what he was going through.
He writes songs for himself and other singers. Commons said he enjoys collaborating with other musicians and finds that the creative process depends on who you’re collaborating with. He joked it’s no different than how school projects work.
“Normally one person takes over, in a way. They’re the leader of it and stuff. Sometimes we have two people who want to be the leader, and it really works out,” Commons said. “So, that’s kind of like for songwriting. And who that person is might change overtime, but someone’s really got to drive it.”
“I think that’s really the key to working on music. Let someone take the reins, and if they hit a wall, then you take it over and push it yourself.”
Commons said that’s what’s great about collaboration: there’s multiple people who can push a project forward so that it never remains stuck.
This year, Jamie N Commons toured with musician Jacob Banks and Banks’ team. This is how Commons came to perform at Dallas’ Granada Theater last month, one of many stops in their musical tour across the country.