Country music singer-songwriter Jamie Floyd has written songs for a variety of artists over her career so far and has also had original music featured on both film and television. She recently released her version of The Blade, a track many country music fans will already know as being the title track from Ashley Monroe's latest album.
Co-written with Allen Shamblin and Marc Beeson, Jamie's distinctive tone gives the track a different flavour than what listeners will have heard from Ashley's release. Jamie's vocal is full of emotion and the track feels incredibly personal to her which, in turn, is sure to draw listeners in.
She has an undoubtedly interesting tone to her voice and The Blade is a good choice to introduce her to a wider audience as a singer as well as a song-writer. The production manages to merge a sense of delicacy with a strength that builds upon the central line of "you caught it by the handle and I caught it by the blade" through the steady drum line and interweaving piano line alongside very strong male backing vocals.
I personally prefer Jamie's version of The Blade to Ashley's and am certainly intrigued to hear what her upcoming EP release will bring. She is definitely an artist to watch and makes her mark with this release.
I was able to catch up with Jamie recently and ask her some questions....
What is it about country music that prompted your interest in the genre?
I had always been a big fan since I was a little girl of a lot of country music that my parents had exposed me to. My parents are musicians and so growing up one of my earliest memories is when my mum would be getting ready to go and play a gig she would listen to George Strait's records from the eighties, with all those incredible Dean Dillon songs, I had those imprinted into me from a very young age. By way of George Strait they kind of opened the door for me to love country music, to love where it came from and where it was going.Do you find it easier to write songs from your own experiences or from a different perspective?
That is an interesting question...I'd say I find it easiest to write the songs that I feel like I've experienced first hand however what I've learned lately from writing for a lot of film and TV, film specifically, when I've been given specific parameters and guidelines and a script for a scene, when that's been given to me to kind of help bring it to life, I find those parameters actually very helpful as opposed to sitting down in a co-write in Nashville and kind of just pulling anything out of the air. I find that being given very specific wants and needs for a scene for instance is a little bit easier than just having nothing to go off necessarily. But then again in a co-write if you're going through something specifically or you're talking from experience those are always easiest because you feel like you know what you're talking about! [laughs] But lately I've found it challenging yet interestingly enough a little bit easier to have a specific guideline to go off.Are there any songs you've written for film that we would recognise?
Well I don't know, it depends what you've seen. Lately I've done a lot of work for movies that appear on television. Here in the United States I believe the most recent movie that I wrote the music for, the original music for, it's kind of a throwback and it covers and tells the story of the women that Charles Manson had manipulated during the sixties and seventies, that horrible thing that happened back then, but it's part of an iconic time in America. They had chronicled what had happened to those girls, the film's called "Manson's Lost Girls" and I wrote all the original music for that film and it just had it's world premier this last Saturday so depending if anyone has seen it you might be familiar with those songs. A couple of years ago I had written the music for Dolly Parton's Christmas film that aired in America so maybe some of you have seen that. I wrote the finale of that movie and also a R&B superstar that we have, Brian McKnight, sang a song of mine in the film as well. If you had seen "Dolly Parton's A Country Christmas Story" or the Lifetime movie "Manson's Lost Girls" you might recognise the songs! [laughs]What was your first major label cut?
My very first major label cut was with Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn in country music here. Brooks & Dunn separated to do their own solo careers a few years back and Ronnie Dunn had cut his debut solo album and I had one of the songs on there that was one of the only songs he didn't write. The song was called "Once" and that was the very first time I'd ever had a major label cut. With somebody who is just a legend in my musical life!And how did that come about?
It was a song I co-wrote, I co-wrote the song with a writer here named Pete Sallis and another writer named Phillip LaRue and we just got to together. Pete and I had written together before but we hadn't written with Phillip and so the three of us sat down for the first time to write together and so it was a pretty lucky co-write because our very first song together was cut! But it actually came about because of a personal situation that I had had and it started out as a sad song about this experience, kind of taking a sad approach to the idea that you only find that kind of love once, the idea that both parties aren't aware that that only comes along every so often, maybe only once. We had had that concept and were trying to make as heartfelt a concept as possible but it ended up being kind of happy and this love song about...the opening line says "you were a wait so worth the price of all the hurt inside me" and so it just kind of went from the bittersweet part of I really went through a lot to get to you and now that I've found you I recognise this only comes around every so often.What was the first song you'd ever written?
Oh my goodness...[laughs] The very first song...when I was a young girl I was signed with Epic Records to a production deal out of New York here and I was eleven and twelve years old when that happened and they had me just kind of writing songs and getting ready to record a record and the very first co-write that they put me in, granted I was really young and I hadn't written songs yet, I was very musical of course and I sang and performed but I hadn't written songs yet and they had me co-write with two extremely incredible Nashville veteran song-writers, one named Greg Barnhill and the other was Jim Daddario and they were sweet enough to sit in a room with me and see what happened and we ended up writing I think four songs that day. The very first one I believe was called...it was really cute, it was called "A Love Like That" and it was a shuffle and it was really fun and it was fun to sing live but I believe that's the first one I ever wrote, with Greg and Jim, back when I was...I must have been twelve or thirteen at the time. I kind of tinkered around with lyrics and things but that's the first one.You co-wrote the title track from Ashley Monroe's new album, what made you decide to release your own version of The Blade?
Speaking of songs that are very personal like you were bringing up earlier, I wrote "The Blade" again with two co-writers, with a guy named Marc Besson and another named Allen Shamblin. It was actually our first co-write as the three of us together, we'd written separately with each other but not together as the three of us. We got on to this idea as a result of Allen of having heard a preacher give a sermon around the idea of, in life, sometimes you catch problems by the handle or by the blade and how to deal with them. We kind of spun it into a love scenario and the way it turned out, once we kind of decided upon oh my gosh what if the hook of the song is you caught it by the handle and I caught it by the blade and we put it in terms of love. Once that happened I identified with the concept so much because I felt like in my personal life that's what I had just gone through. It was probably the best representation of what I had gone through that I wasHow would you describe your music to new listeners?
able to get into a song since having gone through that kind of heartbreak. It felt so very personal and I was so attached to it, it felt so extremely raw. On the day we wrote it I was just in love with the song and felt so close to it that I knew I wanted to record it and I knew that I was going to be coming up on recording my first solo project, this is shortly after we wrote the song a couple of years ago. So I went in to record it last January and we did and then a couple of months later we got the call that Ashley Monroe had heard the demo that we made of the song - here in Nashville to pitch songs we go in and record them so that the labels and the artists can kind of hear what the song would sound like as a finished record - so we had done that for that song as well, we had cut a demo of it with a guy singing it and so Ashley and her label and her management had heard that and they loved the song so much that they wanted to cut it for her record. It was in the last final hour of her record and so they went in and recorded that and that's how that happened but I had recorded it a few months before [laughs] Of course I wanted whatever artist to cut it, that would have been wonderful but I wanted to record it from day one because it was my story and it is my story and I wanted people to hear it straight from the horse's mouth if you will! [laughs] I put my whole heart into that song and I wanted to share that with people and I wanted to let them hear a version that comes straight from the song-writer because I put so much of my blood, sweat and tears into it. Both versions are so different and I know that they had cut their version to fit into what she was doing for the rest of the record, tempo-wise and everything else and that's what happens when different artists cut different songs, you get different versions, different feels. My version was just a little bit more intimate I think because that's how I personally interpreted the song. I found it really interesting to hear how her and Miranda Lambert sang it, I was so elated.
I would describe it as rootsy, emotional, gutsy country music tinged with a little bit of soul. Really truthful and very true to life. Those are the best ones I can think of! I know it sounds like a lot but stylistically and emotionally those are the best representation.Can we expect to hear a full release from you any time soon?
Well that's what I'm working towards. This has come out and a few years ago I had left my publishing deal that I had to kind of see what would happen if I did things on my own independently, to see what I could make happen and almost immediately I got the songs in that Dolly Parton movie and then Ashley cuts "The Blade" and then this Grammy nomination so I've kind of been shown, I feel like by fate I made the right decision to try and go out on my own. In doing that I went back to work waiting tables full time to pay myself a salary to write full time. Every day I write songs and then I go straight to work to kind of pay myself to make sure I retain ownership of everything! I'm proud of that and it's been a struggle but what I will say is the reason we did the EP initially is because that's what I could do within my means and so I'm hoping that with the success hopefully of this EP I would love to get on tour and I would love to continue to write for more film and hopefully have more success there where I can absolutely independently be able to deliver the full release. I have all the songs, I just didn't have the means to record them all and package them all the way that I feel like they deserve to be. But that is coming, that is absolutely coming and I think what will happen is we'll take this EP and those will appear on the full record but then we'll have six or seven more tracks that will add to it. I honestly hope for that to happen within the next year or year and a half. Granted if I'm able to find the means to do that I think it will happen fairly quickly because I have the songs already written and some of them already recorded to, just not fully done and not mixed and all the technical things that have to happen but that's my hope.Can we expect a release date for your EP over here in the UK?
As far as I know...let me check this for you specifically from my contacts with iTunes and where I've distributed my music from because what I've been told is across Spotify, iHeart Radio, anywhere digital music is sold is where the EP is going to appear. So when we went through the licensing everything and all of that from what I understood it was going to be available to you all. So let me look into that specifically again because you all have been wonderful to me, I've written with a lot of artists from the UK and from overseas and Europe and I've loved it when I've been there and they've all always been very supportive. I'm hoping I can make it available to you all but I was under the impression that it will be available. So I'm hoping, March 11th is the official release. Was "The Blade" available to you? That gives me hope that you will have access to it, I have confidence that on March 10th or 11th it will appear on iTunes for you all and I know if some of you can access Amazon Prime that it's for pre-sale on some outlets as well. I know for sure it should be available, I'm going to check for you though.You mentioned the Grammy nomination, huge congrats on being involved with that. How did you feel when that was all announced?
I was very excited for Ashley Monroe because she has put out a few records and she'd fought really hard to have a place in country music and have her voice heard and I felt like that was a big moment for her to have this record lifted up with her peers and for it to be recognised. Then to be a part of that record and to also have written the title track, for her to feel enough of a connection with the song to name her whole album after it, was an honour and she's an incredible writer in her own right so it was very special to us. When we heard about that nomination, when I heard about it, I almost couldn't believe it! [laughs] I couldn't believe it because when you look at the other nominees in that category the talent is just so overwhelming and just to be in that company truly is mind-boggling to me because in my personal situation I'm a waitress! I don't know that anybody else involved in that category can say they work in a restaurant! I don't know if anybody else who wrote those title tracks, I don't know if they're waitresses! [laughs] It was a big accomplishment for me, it made me feel like I was a part of something really special and I felt really grateful to have all these extremes in my life [laughs] working in a restaurant and then part of a Grammy nominated album, I don't know how that happens but it does in Nashville apparently. I'm very grateful for it. It is very extreme but at the same time I think it will make me a better song-writer, it'll definitely make me grateful when something like that hopefully happens with my record!Where would you like to see your career take you?
I would like to see my career take me to perform and share my songs with as many as I can possibly reach. So whether that be through film and television, maybe singing my songs in a film, or just having them be brought to life is something that I find really reaches people. Of course my dream is to be on stage every night on tour and to be able to interact with people before and after the show and kind of share my music in a live setting with everyone and be able to share the stories and have that connection with everybody. That's pretty much it, I wish that that were the case every night, that I could play and continue to have the means to release and record music that is really special to me and I feel like it hopefully might be special to everybody else too.What is your favourite part about working within country music?
My favourite part is probably the song-writers, working with and getting to know the new writers that are coming to town and this incredible new talent that we're surrounded by is kind of electric but even more so than that being grounded by, at least in the same town and the same world, as these song-writers that are legendary, that I grew up listening to. I can say both co-writers of mine on "The Blade" wrote songs that I grew up singing and loving and one of them wrote my favourite song, Allen Shamblin wrote my favourite song which is "I Can't Make You Love Me" that Bonnie Raitt recorded and so, for instance, to write a song with the person who wrote my favourite song and to get a cut with him that's so full circle and it's so special. So yeah, my favourite part is probably just getting to be a part of the community of song-writers that have concentrated themselves here, it's a really beautiful creative and inspiring climate.And what's your least favourite part?
Oh goodness...I think anybody in a creative profession will say some of the best and the hardest things about being in a profession like this are the ups and downs. I find that the hardest part for me has been coming very close and then going back down then coming very close. So it definitely makes the highs worth it, the hard part is being able to keep yourself inspired and keep yourself motivated through the lows. I've managed to do that but I'm human and it's not easy. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that some nights I went to work and I was upset that I wasn't on a stage, I'm human. That's been the hardest part for me - being a part of country music, being a part of what goes on in Nashville - is the ups are awesome but the downs are downs! [laughs] Just trying to remain hopeful through the downs but I've been lucky where every time I think 'oh gosh this is really rough' something comes along to remind me why I got involved and why I'm still here.Are there any plans to tour the UK soon?
Not immediately soon. I've done a lot of work with Lucie Silvas there over the years and I know she was just there, she did a home-town show, I have so many friends because of her and people involved in music that I love so if things go as planned and if things are successful and keep kind of rolling in the right direction on the top of my list is to get back to the UK. Like I said, I really connected with everyone there and I just feel like you all have great taste! [laughs] I would hope that I could give you something to love. I would love to be there, to come back. Every time I've been, by the way, I've been working very hard, I've been in studios and writing rooms, so I'd really love to come there, not only play a show but I'd love to actually play tourist for a few days and not make it all about work so I could actually enjoy everything that's there that I haven't got to check out yet.Thank you to Jamie for her time! The Blade is available now and you can purchase her EP Sunshine & Rainbows on March 11th.