“I’m inspired a lot by atmosphere – scenery, colors. Every time I write a song I think of a place,” jame says over the phone on a Wednesday afternoon from the walls of his Los Angeles apartment.
This imagery, inspiring and enveloping, is the fabric of the singer-songwriter’s debut project, Harmless. A delightful 8-track collection dedicated to loss and letting go, it’s a taste of more to come from the mind of a consistently evolving artist.
Born Patrick James Minogue, jame grew up in Perth Amboy in New Jersey. His father is from Kilkenney, Ireland, and his mother is from the Dominican Republic. jame’s interest in music came to him at an early age. Noted by his parents, this penchant was always present to those around him, even when it may not have been to himself.
“My parents say when I was a little kid, I used to get all the pots and pans in the house, pick off tree branches outside and pretend to play drums on them,” he tells me. The subtle makings of a burgeoning producer, these early moments alluded to what would soon encapsulate jame’s life; music.
At 15, he began writing his own music. Inspired by popular punk bands from Green Day to My Chemical Romance, jame utilized his inspirations as entry points for learning instruments. By high school, he started working with other musicians, playing talent shows mostly as a drummer before assuming his role as a lead singer.
The earlier years of his pursuit of the craft were not free of struggle. Growing up in a completely Latinx town, jame’s passions were often met with criticism from those around him.
“My town definitely had those kinds of people who would say things like, ‘You’re Hispanic/Latino. It’s impossible to make it in music, you need a plan b,’” jame explains. These obstacles only fueled the fire, encouraging the artist to move out of his hometown and into somewhere more suitable for his musical growth.
That environment came in the form of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Securing a spot in the prestigious program, Minogue soon joined forces with a few peers to form The Penthouse, an indie pop trio. The group decided to take their act to LA to keep evolving and be closer to the action.
5 months into the coast to coast move, the band broke up.
Now a solo act in a big city, Minogue worked to curate a stage persona that was singular, impassioned, and true to himself. In June 2019, jame was born. The first piece of Harmless came shortly thereafter in the form of standout single “Freefall.”
“‘Freefall’ felt like being in a humid room with a lot of plants and windows, having a fan blow on me the whole time,” jame illustrates in describing the images and colors that inspired the songs on the project. “[When I think ‘Freefall,’] I think about the color blue.”
The remainder of Harmless doubles down on the themes of processing grief – that of relationships, friendships, past selves. Just when that catharsis felt near completion, the ongoing pandemic hit. For many like jame, this newly suffocating reality gave way to struggles in creativity and songwriting.
“I had to learn to go [more deeply] inside myself and write from there,” jame admits. “Halfway through quarantine I taught myself to write music from a different place. I’m at a super creative place now vs the beginning [of the pandemic].”
This creative place is the incubator for the artist’s latest single, “If U Want Me.”
A bit of a departure from his earlier work, the new single grows from the narrative of Harmless, providing the lens for a new chapter – one filled with closure and moving forward. It deals with the all too heavy reality of love in the digital age, even more overwhelmingly pressurized by the Covid-induced digital dystopia many find themselves trapped in today.
“In this new stage, I’ve let go of everything,” jame expresses in describing the wake of Harmless. “[If U Want Me] is a lot more upbeat – it sounds a lot more positive. The song focuses on online dating and how our form of communication has changed from in person to online.”
From a supplement to a driving force, online dating has evolved into a now integral aspect of modern relationships. Through “If U Want Me,” jame captures this development.
Earthy and summer ready, the mid tempo jam is, for better or worse, one of the most relatable tracks to come out of quarantining as a twenty-something. jame beautifully captures the collective unease of being a young adult pursuing romance today.
Time will tell, but if “If U Want Me” is any sign of what’s coming from those apartment walls, listeners are in for a treat.