Stepping up with Derek Jameson
People got a different look at star-on-the-brink Derek Jameson when he performed at Ultra Suede's Cherry Pop party in West Hollywood on March 24th. It was at a venue where he's performed many times, but the Jameson the audience saw was one they were not accustomed to seeing.
It had an aerialist, a live drummer, dancers, and even costumed flight attendants giving the safety demonstration that you will need when enjoying the new dance and dub-step feel of Jameson's new EP A History of Heroes. Jameson describes it as "...a step up and a show product."
It was definitely a move in a different direction from the balladeer we heard on his debut album "The Invention of Love." "A History of Heroes"' songs are still full of message material we have grown to love about Derek's songwriting, songs of empowerment and self discovery set to a club beat.
The ethos the song evokes is something of a testament to Jameson, who is as much as a philanthropist and activist as he is a recording artist. I visited with Jameson to find out what sets his new EP apart from his previous music, what drove him to the dub-step sound, and what recent changes he has made to further his career.
BeBe: Outside of it being an EP versus a full album, what makes "A History of Heroes" different from your last collection of songs "The Invention of Love" back in 2010?
Derek Jameson: This one is more about the things that inspire us in life, and the people we consider as heroes. Some of them are closely related to a love interest, but not all of them. (These) are not just our mothers, fathers, and friends, but people in history that have paved the way for us. It’s about the set of personal heroes you have inside your heart. That’s really the driving force and why it is even the first track on the EP, and why there are only a few songs on this one because of the single inspiration involved. It focuses on on one thing.
BeBe: What personal heroes have you drawn upon?
Derek Jameson: The people that inspire me the most are people who are powerful and go out there and make change, or do things out of selflessness. I have some friends in my life right now who inspire me so much because of who the are naturally and what they do.
BeBe: Is the " A History of Heroes" the first single or "Mr. Soldier Man"?
Derek Jameson: "Mr. Soldier Man" is the first single. I wanted something that kind of represented that heavier dub-step feel that I love. Also, I wanted something different from my featured single off "The Invention of Love", "Ribcage".
BeBe: Dub-step has been really popular over in the U.K (NERO). I know you have been doing a lot of performing here in the U.S., and particularly in California, but was the use of dub-step a conscious effort to try and gain more exposure in Europe?
Derek Jameson: Dub-step is that it combines those dance elements and the heavy emotions behind what an artist is trying to say. I taught myself how to write the wobbles in the dub-step feels because I wanted to use that kind of sound and introduce it into what I want to do from here on out. I wanted to include that edginess, the heavy emotion that comes from that. When you hear that drop come in, you feel the real emotion behind the song. It seems to be going over well with people overseas, as you were saying, particularly with people from Italy for some reason.
BeBe: Now with your video for "Mr. Soldier Man," directed by Jonna Roe, what message are you trying to convey that is different from your video for "Ribcage" which was very popular?
Derek Jameson: The "Mr. Soldier Man" song is about our roles as men. About what we expect from ourselves and what society expects from us, and how sometimes no matter how strong someone may appear they can be weak, and how you can use the weakness to push on and become strong and to be successful for ourselves. My discussions with Jonna was that I wanted to make a video that shows the struggle, or inner battle, someone can go through (with expectations). People who come to Los Angeles can relate. A lot of people come here and get lonely and get lost, and then they leave. So the video is about that kind of journey in finding out who you are and using your weaknesses along the way as a strength. It is much more of a story rather than just a music video.
Showing the depth
BeBe: When you were promoting your last album which had more ballads and mid-tempo offerings, you played many venues with just you sitting at a keyboard and singing. "A History of Heroes" with its dance and dub-step feel would seem to require a more choreographed set with things going on. Will this new EP change the way you perform on stage, and what type of performance style do you prefer?
Derek Jameson: I find that doing an acoustic set, stripping even the songs from the new EP down like that, gets people to pay attention to what your saying. I like taking my songs, dance songs, and performing them on the piano to show the depth behind what I am saying. I love doing acoustic sets for that reason, but when it is at a nightclub, like at the release party at Cherry Pop, I want people to party and to give them a show. So, it really does depend on the environment.
BeBe: Now since we last spoke about a year and a half or so, you have made other changes to your career other than your music to include management and even styling. Can you express to me the what and why behind these changes?
Derek Jameson: I was approached by a group to manage me and fund me as an artist some time ago, and we began working on a lot of material in the studio, but when it came down to it, it wasn’t quite as it was presented to me. This is the not so good side of the music business that everyone has heard about or knows. Yes, I have gone through it too. But I didn’t just sit there and say poor me, poor me. I don’t have time for that. So I let go of that. I decided I am going to take care of myself, and do what I’ve always done and that is make myself. Of course I would be nothing without my history of heroes and all the people who have been there for me, but I am not going to stand there and wait for someone to help me. And as far as styling, I’ve become comfortable with what I’m choosing to wear and taking control of what I want to present. I love it so much more! So it was about dropping all that crap and doing what I want to do.
BeBe: Outside of "A History of Heroes" being out there, you also have been working on some acting projects recently that the public will be able to see you in.
Derek Jameson: Yeah. I completed a Charlie Vaughn ("Vampire Boys") film "Bloody Mary 3-D," a horror film (released on Video On Demand in the U.S. December 1, 2011), in which I play the lead (co-starring adult film stars Ron Jeremy and Veronica Ricci). It also features my song "Ribcage." I really only do acting roles if I am asked. I don’t pursue it like my singing. But many movies are picking up my music for their films, such as "1 Chance 2 Dance," a teen dance flick which uses my "Push On" song for its pivotal emotional scene in the movie. Another film, "The Groom’s Cake," also uses "Ribcage" in the film.
BeBe: Your song "Push On" also appeared in the new film "Pop-U-larity," co-starring magically voiced Chadwick, where you perform it on film.
Derek Jameson: Yeah. I perform it live as part of an audition group in the film. I became good friends with Chadwick from doing that bit part, and we became fans of each other. It’s awesome.
"A History Of Heroes" is available at all on-line music outlets including iTunes and Amazon.com.
To follow Derek Jameson and hear his music and find out where he will appearing visit his profile page on www.reverbnation.com/derekjameson.
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.