Jhameel was once set on the path to officer-ship in the United States Army. Although his linguistic skills in Arabic, Spanish, Korean, and Russian would have been highly rewarded in the military, Jhameel quit the program before signing an irrevocable contract due to personal beliefs about U.S. presence in the Middle East. He then earned a degree in Arabic from UC Berkeley within just two years, graduating summa cum laude. Immediately after, he began his career in music. That’s kind of where we enter. Having caught on to Jhameel’s music we jumped at the chance to get inside the mind of this up-and-coming musical genius. Read below for the full Q&A…
Your background is quite interesting. How does a talented musician end up speaking almost every language besides Swahili and have an interest in the armed forces?
Jhameel: When you grow up an only child, slightly overweight, moving around a lot, Asian in all white towns, socially awkward, there is nothing else to do but figure out what you like yourself and run with it.
Also, unrelated, you received a degree in something other than music, yet you transitioned pretty quickly into that field. What brought on that decision? Did it just feel like the right time?
Jhameel: I treated college like a learning period not for my career, but for myself as a person. I studied something I had genuine interest in, I lived in a co-op, did ROTC, fell in love, got my heart broken, made friendships, broke friendships, made bad music, made good music, and I came out a better person. That in turn helped me develop myself as a musician.
In your opinion, how important is it for a musician to embrace social media? Do you feel it is crucial to embrace virtual society to expand your fanbase?
Jhameel: It’s absolutely crucial. The future of media consumption is online, I am convinced of that. It’s the fastest way to share art that you love, and it allows for free distribution, which is changing the music industry completely.
You are also proficient behind the mixing board. What is it like being able to produce your own music while most artists struggle to achieve autonomy?
Jhameel: It’s absolutely exhilarating. Nowadays, I think in full songs, and I’ve been perfecting my recording methods, so as soon as I think of a song, it only takes me a day to record it and a few more to mix and master. It’s such a satisfying form of expression.
You give most of your music away for free on the internet. What are the pros and cons to this method of releasing music to your fans?
Jhameel: The pros are more people listen to my music, there’s no hassle in releasing new content, I gain fans faster, and the recordings act as advertisement for my live shows. The only con is I make less money selling on iTunes etc., but that’s not really the main source of income anyways.
What was the creative process like when you approached your new album ‘Waves’.
Jhameel: It was very natural, all the songs were written in about a day, the real time consumer was mixing and mastering. My goal was to make every song completely different, but unified in their structure and simplicity. I wanted the textures to be natural but have the precision of electronic instruments, so I layered both real and electronic instruments, and it turned out exactly the way I wanted. I also wanted to show off my vocal range, so I planned out the keys a little better this time around.
Musically, how different is it from your previous work such as ‘The Human Condition’? Was there a lot of growth in between recordings?
Jhameel: Yes, there was a lot of growth, but I consider each project good in their own respect. “The Human Condition” for example stands strongly as a full album and expresses exactly what I was going through at the time, but the WAVES series was more structured to have five strong singles. I like to think each project is a unique art in its own right.
Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime?
Jhameel: I love all the Miyazaki films!
I know you will be busy touring in 2012, can you unleash any special surprises, venues, or plans?
Jhameel: Maybe not on the first tour, but I plan on implementing some innovative lighting on stage soon. I don’t want to talk about it too much, but when I get closer to the goal, I’ll reveal a little more.
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