Text JF. Pierets Photos Courtesy of The Irrepressibles
He’s the highly talented artist behind The Irrepressibles, a 10-piece band, using conceptual sets, none-theatrical lighting, projection, dance and couture fashion. Their ground breaking approach continues to push the boundaries of live popular music and they have been commissioned and performed for many of Europe’s leading festivals and institutions including the Latitude Festival, the V&A, the Hackney Empire and guest appearances at the London Fashion Week.
Their heavily emotional style of music is created instinctively, playfully and cathartically by Jamie McDermott, the founding member, and center piece of The Irrepressibles. The moment Jamie knew he was a musician is quite an emotional story. Being in love with his best friend, he wrote songs to express his feelings. Other than the wishful happily ever after, they fell apart as friends and the singer felt so alone he was looking in the face of suicide and wanted to throw himself of the cliffs of the seaside town where he lived. Yet, instead of jumping, he decided to give his life a more noble purpose; “Through music, I wanted to explain the world the beauty of being in love with another man in a way that everyone would understand.” Needless to say this kind of intension is one of the things we love here at Et Alors? Magazine.
As a working class boy from North Yorkshire, he discovered the library and was craving for knowledge. “I read about Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren, Andy Warhol, about the political force of music in the words of Atalli and Eisler and fell in love with the iconic imagery of film makers Fasbinder and Kenneth Anger”, so his genesis began with a manifesto to “make something that portrays the real originality, drama and intensity of life.”
Irritated by the manufactured pop music, its lack of real emotion and the boring visual aesthetics of indie music at the time, he wanted to create something fresh and reactionary. Most influenced by nonmusical elements such as the sounds of laughter and the hum of the bus; “The movement of people and machines all have a complexity of nature a kind of polyphony in their interaction. My music has this interaction“. It’s an organic machine of emotion, what McDermott calls his ‘performance objects’ or ‘live spectacles’.
‘It is boring of the music industry to be so conservative when so many other areas of society aren’t.’
What began as an art performance project in 2002 resulted into the release of their debut album “Mirror Mirror” in 2010. The Guardian called all 12 songs humorous, vain and marvelously camp. Two years later, The Irrepressibles released the album “Nude” throughout the world. “Take off your clothes, I want to see you naked” are the first words we hear Jamie McDermott’s deep baritone sing. With reviews like “Consisting of 12 pieces in total, fusing discordant electronica with the more familiar classical orchestrations of old, Nude represents McDermott’s attempts at writing a concept record explaining the rich complexities of life” and “As ever, McDermott sails alongside and above the melody, reaching astounding levels of emotive strength as the song builds to its heady climax”, the world hears that McDermott has a talent that few can match.
Despite these beautifully arranged songs and a great voice, it’s very refreshing to hear someone sing unapologetically about his homosexuality “I wrote much of Nude when I was 19, 20, 21. At that time I was really finding who I was. Blossoming with my sexuality and writing songs about my adolescent experiences, being bullied and isolated. I’ve always been very honest and open. Making music for me has always been a very cathartic emotional process”, McDermott states. “New World” – from the album “Nude” – was a song he wrote to a friend to tell him to come-out and be free. “I was hearing a lot about these kids killing themselves for being bullied because they were gay and I was deeply disturbed by this. I wanted to send this message in the hope of being part of making young people confident in their difference”. The album Nude is heavily about affirming difference and letting it be free.
Comparisons with Antony Hegarty and David Bowie are never far away and the singer explains being very much influenced by what he would call the lineage of gay artists. He believes that gay artists create a slightly different aesthetic of sound and visual. Nevertheless he does not fear that his music will be marginalized because he is not ashamed to promote the so-called gay interest. “It is boring of the music industry to be so conservative when so many other areas of society aren’t and when pop music is meant to be the vanguard of culture. For too many years gay artists have been marginalized when their music has been influential on other more acceptable artists. So why should anyone who is gay be dishonest?”
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