Pon­toon per­fect possie for Jamie

Spe­cial stage a first

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By DAVID HULME

Kiwi songstress Jamie McDell is no stranger to a stage but per­form­ing on a spe­cially-de­signed lake­side pon­toon in Mata­mata will cer­tainly be a first.

The easy-go­ing, beach-lov­ing 22-year-old is set to head­line the in­au­gu­ral Ro­tary Mata­mata Con­cert by the Lake on Fe­bru­ary 22 with Auck­land jazz band The So­ci­ety Jazzmen and lo­cal tal­ent Bryan Rawiri.

‘‘This is some­thing I have never done be­fore,’’ Jamie says. ‘‘It will be ab­so­lutely unique to play on a pon­toon and this will add a very in­ter­est­ing dy­namic to a show like this in the out­doors.

‘‘The venue looks re­ally stunning and I imag­ine it will be one of the most beau­ti­ful set­tings I have played in so far. A lot of the in­spi­ra­tion I take is from the out­doors so I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to this con­cert.’’

With pro­ceeds go­ing to Ro­tary Mata­mata projects, Jamie says play­ing at char­ity events is al­ways great for her and her band. ‘‘The au­di­ence at th­ese types of con­certs is al­ways there for a re­ally good rea­son and we are sur­rounded by peo­ple do­ing their best to help out and as a bonus you get a re­ally good re­sponse to the mu­sic. Mata­mata is giv­ing us as artists the chance to do some­thing we re­ally love.’’

Even at her ten­der age, Jamie is no stranger to char­ity work. She is an am­bas­sador for Surf Life­sav­ing New Zealand – some­thing she feels is more of a joy than an obli­ga­tion – and she has worked with Sea Shep­herd and Le­gasea – both or­gan­i­sa­tions aim­ing to pro­tect the oceans.

As a teenager, she even wrote a song, With­out a Voice, about the plight of the Maui’s dol­phin which she per­formed both for the Auck­land Coun­cil and then at Par­lia­ment. And last year, she spent time in Costa Rica with Ce­line Cousteau, the grand­daugh­ter of leg­endary marine con­ser­va­tion­ist Jac­ques Cousteau, work­ing in sea tur­tle con­ser­va­tion.

‘‘The ocean has been some­thing I have grown up with – I was div­ing at a very young age and you start to no­tice things chang­ing and you ques­tion why,’’ Jamie says of her work with marine con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions.

‘‘When I was seven, Mum and Dad took us to live on a yacht in the Mediter­ranean and I guess with time on my hands and the en­vi­ron­ment I was in this was when I started to write songs,’’ Jamie says.

‘‘Mum and Dad are rel­a­tively mu­si­cal and it was a pretty nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for me to write songs. A lot of kids keep di­aries but my way of cop­ing with things was to write songs.’’ By the age of 16, when she was ‘‘dis­cov­ered’’ by EMI mu­sic, she al­ready had more than 100 songs writ­ten.

Her par­ents en­cour­aged Jamie to share this tal­ent and she started to put her mu­sic, videos and thoughts onto so­cial me­dia.

Now, some six years down the track, Jamie has a large and loyal so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing, named the Gypsy Pi­rates, to­talling 213,000 Face­book fol­low­ers, 30,000 Twit­ter and Instagram fol­low­ers and 100,000 YouTube sub­scribers.

With such a level of fan base, it is al­most in­evitable that Jamie is seen as a role model, par­tic­u­larly for young women. ‘‘Pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive images are very strong over the in­ter­net, and young girls in par­tic­u­lar need to have a strong sense of them­selves.

‘‘I was told as a teenager ‘ you need to re­spect opin­ions only of those peo­ple that you re­spect’. It is some of the best ad­vice I was ever given. I’m al­ways in­ter­ested in lis­ten­ing to those peo­ple that I re­spect and hope­fully that is some­thing I can pass on to young girls to con­sider.’’

It was the re­lease of You’ll Never Take That Away, her de­but sin­gle in Fe­bru­ary 2012, that re­ally launched Jamie’s ca­reer in the main­stream psy­che of New Zealan­ders.

‘‘ I am re­ally proud of that song,’’ Jamie says. ‘‘I had writ­ten it about living your own life and do­ing the things you love and to

Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 22 1pm-6pm Pri­vate prop­erty, 162 Jon­dor Rd Fea­tur­ing: The So­ci­ety Jazzmen, Jamie McDell and lo­cal mu­si­cian Bryan Rawiri. BYO pic­nic and drinks. There will be some non-al­co­holic drinks and food avail­able for pur­chase on the day (cash only)

Tick­ets: $40 or $30 for sec­ondary stu­dents with ID. Avail­able now from PaperPlus, Colourplus and Visique. have a song like that with a mes­sage like that and to have young peo­ple be­liev­ing in the mu­sic was some­thing very, very spe­cial for me, but at the same time its suc­cess was a bit of a shock and it was a lit­tle bit weird to hear your­self on the ra­dio.’’

The suc­cess of the sin­gle was fol­lowed by the re­lease of her de­but al­bum – Six Strings and a Sail­boat. ‘‘I wanted an al­bum ti­tle that re­flected me and with this the al­bum could just as eas­ily have been called Jamie McDell – it was the per­fect fit.’’

Jamie’s mu­sic has been de­scribed in many dif­fer­ent gen­res but in her own es­ti­ma­tion she is a pop artist with strong in­flu­ences from the coun­try mu­sic scene. ‘‘I have learned a lot from coun­try mu­sic – how to tell a story and struc­ture a song to make it sound as good with just an acous­tic gui­tar as it does on the ra­dio.

‘‘My song writ­ing is hon­est, straight­for­ward and never over­thought. It came nat­u­rally from a young age and it was a cop­ing mech­a­nism grow­ing up – a way to get down your ex­pe­ri­ences and I have not re­ally strayed from that for­mula too much.’’

Jamie’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Con­cert by the Lake will also fea­ture half her band, in­clud­ing acous­tic gui­tars, key­board and a vi­o­lin. With her sec­ond stu­dio al­bum – Ask Me Any­thing – due out on March 27, she will show­case a lot of the new ma­te­rial.

‘‘ I be­lieve th­ese songs have ma­tured quite a lot but they are still based around an acous­tic gui­tar and story-telling. I would say it is a pro­gres­sion and devel­op­ment – I am get­ting older and deal­ing dif­fer­ently with things and I am try­ing to write less about my­self and more of other peo­ple’s sto­ries.’’

‘‘The Mata­mata au­di­ence will be among the first to hear a lot of the new ma­te­rial and I may even write a song about play­ing on the pon­toon,’’ Jamie jokes. And if she does there is one thing for sure – You’ll Never Take that Away from Mata­mata!


OUT­DOOR GIG: A lot of the in­spi­ra­tion I take is from the out­doors so I am­re­ally look­ing for­ward to this con­cert,’’ Jamie McDell says.


AIR TIME: ‘‘It was a lit­tle bit weird to hear your­self on the ra­dio,’’ Jamie McDell says of her suc­cess.

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