Jahméne on career re-birth: 'I have a lot more creative control now'
Former X Factor finalist Jahméne Douglas is in the process of reinventing himself.
The singer found fame on the show in 2012, but he was runner-up to James Arthur.
After releasing a covers album following his stint on the show, Jahméne is back with a new look, a streamlined name and a fresh sound ahead of releasing his second album next year.
He is unleashing the comeback track ‘Down For Love’ on November 6 and Pressparty caught up with the singer to talk about his sound, leaving Sony and being stuck with the X Factor tag.
Is ‘Down For Love’ representative of your other new material?
"In this one I reference a lot of hip-hop songs from back in the day, and R&B. This is more that kind of sound."
Do you have any hopes for its chart performance?
"For me this is more of a re-introduction. It just laying down a sound that no-one’s really heard yet because I made a covers album after I was on the X Factor. This is more of a re-introduction and a debut of me and myself, so I’m not really expecting much. It’s more of a hype track."
Were you frustrated when you had to do the covers album after leaving the X Factor?
"As an artist, I was frustrated. But as a person, I felt blessed I was able to make an album anyway. I had Stevie Wonder and Nicole Scherzinger on it, so it was a blessing. But it was a crash course in the music industry. I wouldn’t at this point be creating a second album if I didn’t make it, so I have to be grateful."
How did the Stevie Wonder collaboration ‘Give Us This Day’ come about?
"I threw it out there as a joke, but my manager got back to me to say that Stevie’s manager replied saying he would do it - and do it for free, which was a blessing and a testament to Stevie’s character."
What’s the current state of play with your new album?
"It’s about a song and half away from being completed, and then we’ve just got to mix and master it. We’re aiming to release it March next year.
"I referenced Whitney Houston’s 'My Love is Your Love' album for this, because I feel like that’s a perfect balance of R&B and a bit of hip-hop, so I’m trying to balance that vocally and musically. It’s kind of a throwback to the 90s, because that’s where my heart is at musically."
Do you have far more freedom now than when you were with Sony?
"I think that question answers itself. I have a lot more creative control now than when I was with Sony and Syco. I have final approval, so I get to take more decisions and take things in the direction that I want it to go in, and make it follow the dream of what I’m envisaging."
Are there any interesting collaborations on the record?
"The collaborations are more in the producers I’ve been working with. For 'Down For Love', it was Davinche, who has done things for Tinie Tempah, and I’ve really enjoyed working with him. There’s Dianne Warren, which is a childhood dream for me, and Andrea Martin and Stanley Brown. Everything has been falling into place."
You’ve dropped your last name - is that a conscious decision to move on from the X Factor past?
"For me, it was more to do with it being my father’s surname, and I believe that there’s such much power in a name. I didn’t want to carry on that burden of my father’s surname for what he’s done to my family. So I just wanted to move on from that and I don’t want to be giving light to him."
Your mum’s got a new book out about that...
"It's called You Can't Run. It’s a story about her life, from when she met my father. It shows the journey of an abusive relationship. It raises a lot of awareness to people in that situation, or just it also helps educate people, especially younger women, about the warning signs."
Was it hard to read?
"It was very hard. It was almost like I was rediscovering myself as a child. Because I had suppressed 9-year-old Jahméne…it brought back so many memories I had completely forgotten because it was traumatising, so you forget it. I was finding out things too that I didn’t entirely know about my mother. Hopefully it raises awareness."
In hindsight, if you were starting out now, would you go on the X Factor?
"I wouldn’t go on it now with the Six Chair Challenge. That seems savage. I think the time that I did it was the time I should have done it. It felt right at the time."
Is it a tired format?
"Well, it’s still probably one of the most watched things in the UK. People just freak out when they lose a million off the ratings, but it’s still well watched. "
Have you experienced people taking you less seriously because of the X Factor tag?
"Of course, because it’s not just a singing show - it’s more of a reality TV show. I kind of went into the competition knowing that.
"I went in, like James Arthur did, as a straightforward person, not wanting the music to be compromised. After the show you kind of realise you’ve been turned into a celebrity rather than a singer. I’ve taken around two years out to distance myself from that stigma."
You’ve previously tweeted a lot about the refugee crisis. Is that something that is close to your heart?
"I think as a Brit, you need to be aware. As a Christian as well, it’s hard to read certain things and think that some people’s mentalities are still a certain way and quite closed. I just tweet to try to be as open in my heart and my mind as possible."
Jahméne will release ‘Down For Love’ on November 6.
Watch the video for ‘Down For Love’ below:
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