Jamie Hannah: The Classic On Cool
1st April 2019
Your voice has been described by famous peers as ‘a voice never heard before’. So we’re going to set you the challenge of eloquently explaining the impossible!
I have been having singing lessons since I was 7 years old so my voice has been trained. I have been taught how to breathe properly and look after my larynx. My range is very wide and covers deep baritone to high male soprano. I think this is why people find my natural voice extraordinary – especially my high falsetto. However, I have never just been a classical singer, my repertoire even when young, covered pop – I won my school’s X factor competition singing a Michael Jackson track, musical theater, jazz and world music as well as operatic arias. Pop music is the genre I love best – that’s what I sing in the shower!
List some misinterpretations people might have about the classical music genre?
I don’t believe in categorizing things in metaphorical boxes. After all, so-called “classical” music was the popular music of its time. It is not staid, stuffy and static – there is plenty of room for improvisation especially in early 17thcentury countertenor music. Every time a “classical” song is sung it sounds different. “Classical” music has its own different genres as different to each other as bubble gum pop is to grime nowadays. For me, I am also melding the classical feel with a synth electro pop sound so I hope to bring my own stamp in this genre.
What’s it like to see you live?
I have been performing as long as I have been singing. I love performing live and getting to know an audience. I get a huge buzz from performing, can’t stop smiling, and I think the audience feels it as well. I sang in a small backing group for Kylie Minogue in a series of her Christmas concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She was a total professional, a master of performance and working with the audience. It was an amazing experience and something I will never forget. I still have a lot to learn but I hope the audience has as much fun as I do. I am embarking on a Heather Small Tour soon and I am so excited about those audiences.
You’ve teamed up with the iconic Boy George on a recent track – what’s the most extravagant and then most down to earth characteristic of Boy George?
George is very generous with his time, his experience, and his direction – whether on styling, photography or writing. He is a real dream to work with. There are two sides of George – of course his makeup and styling identify him and there is a very laid back type of George that is practical and shows the human side that is not seen by a lot of people.
ANOTHER fan of yours is only a certain Oscar winning Emma Thompson! What’s the sassiest thing Emma Thompson has said to you?
Just about everything Emma says is sassy! She is such fun to be with and I really value her thoughts on everything. I turned up to her party not long ago in a bright blue denim embossed suit and from across the room I heard her shouting “you pull off patterns better than I do!”She laughingly complained that I had managed to upstage her at her own party.
Sound of My Youth is a song about nostalgia – what would you change from the past if you could?
I wish I had more confidence in myself. I wish others had accepted my idiosyncrasies and me as I was growing up. I am the way I am – dyslexic and very passionate about all music – I was bullied at school for not being “normal”. Now I know who I am, have grown over 6ft tall and work out most days – I don’t get bullied any more. Back then, it hurt and I wish I had more confidence in myself then to not let it hurt as it did.
A lyric in Sound of My Youthgoes “crying out for sunshine” – what are the ingredients for your perfect summer?
Well the main ingredient has to be sunshine, lots of it – then some good friends, a beach, good music and a cocktail or five.
As a proudly gay artist, what does pride mean to you, and who inspires you?
I am proud of who I am and what I am born to be. I believe it’s not a label on life or how I live it. I just am. The proud part is that many have gone before me to path a way forward for me to live as I am and for that this makes me massively proud of being gay. Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus – the list is endless. Sexuality is different to gender, however I would also like to acknowledge Munroe Bergdorf in my answer, as I am continually inspired by her activism creating awareness of the transgender community; pushing for legislative change, greater visibility and inclusion.
We recently invited you to Superdry’s Regent Street flagship, and it was a total delight! What did you pick out, and did it shift any original impression on the brand?
Amazing, I had a terrific time. Thank you for inviting me. I picked out a super cute jumper with the rainbow flag on it. I didn’t realize the store has such an eclectic range. I’ve been pretty much living in your gym kit since then.
How does a classical kid like you dress?
I am just an ordinary guy and shop in the high street like everyone else. I love colours and I love how I can express myself in what I wear and I guess it comes out more when I’m all dressed up with somewhere to go to.
Finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
On the big stages worldwide, baby! Gotta stay optimistic!