Jamie Miller

2 May 2022

Photography Gigi Umbrasaite
Fashion Jessie Stein
Interview Jessica Fynn
Fashion Assistant Alisha LeMay

In another lifetime, or perhaps one where we at least share the same time-zone, we would chance upon Welsh singer Jamie Miller in a crowded bar. It would be near closing time, the bartender calling out for final orders, the air thick with the sweet scent of rum and dark pinewood. A jukebox would be playing something lively from the 80s, players swinging pool cues and sharing secrets, maybe even talking about the last time they fell in love, or experienced heartbreak.

In conversation, Jamie has a habit of speaking about himself in the third person. It’s sweet and endearing because, for the most part, he seems to be largely unaware that he is doing so, hellbent on trying to articulate his story; who he feels that he has become now that he has left the comfort of his small hometown.

This latest chapter of Jamie’s life is defined by highs and lows: he has taken a plane ride across the Atlantic, a giant leap of faith, and fallen in love. He’s fallen out of love, and in again - this time with a city, and the magical craft that is singing-songwriting. His freshly released debut EP, Broken Memories, is a love letter to all he hopes to be as an artist.

Across the telephone line, I swear I hear the sound of Jamie’s voice crack a little when he says that what he wants most in the world, is for people to fall in love with Jamie for all of him. In this photo series, Gigi Umbrasaite captures Jamie in warm, unfiltered sunlight. The tones are earthy and rich, the early spring season giving as much as it takes. A wide, slightly off-centre smile tells us a lot of what we need to know about Jamie, but he fills in the gaps with his lessons of heartbreak, his growing love of K-pop culture, and an outlandish bucket list.

Jamie's debut EP 'Broken Memories' (a favourite already on our playlist) is out now.

What do you think is the first impression that you give to people? I’d like to start there because first impressions feel somewhat significant.
People think I’m a kind person. I would also say that people think that I’m bubbly or outgoing. Sometimes I feel like I’m a little bit shy too. You either get that Jamie or the bubbly Jamie. It’s either one or the other.

You were born and raised in Cardiff, but you’re currently in L.A. Where do you call home?
I’m a Cardiff boy, yes. I have two sisters, my mum and dad. I grew up rich in love. I would never have changed my childhood. Growing up, we were all such a tight little unit. Cardiff will always be my home because my family are there, but I’ve been able to create little pieces of home out here.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to take you back to Cardiff for a moment. Could you please share with us something of your own history and relationship with music?
From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be a performer. I didn’t think that I would ever be able to do it as a job. Being from Cardiff in the UK, there are limited places you can find the opportunity to become a singing superstar. I had to create my own path to be able to get to a dream that I didn’t have a Plan B for. If it wasn’t for my family pushing me to do auditions and to get in front of certain people, I probably wouldn’t have been here by now to even have this conversation with you. It’s so important to have people that believe in you. My mum believed in me even before I believed in myself. It was nice to have someone there to keep pushing me.

I went on The Voice UK when I was eighteen. It was a stepping-stone in the right direction. My manager found me through the show. I came third. After I came off of The Voice, I started posting videos online and Khloe Kardashian found me and said I was her new favourite singer.

That’s quite the compliment.
Everything was history after that. Atlantic Records flew me out to New York and I signed a record deal. Khloe Kardashian and my manager changed my life - and I don’t think they know it.

Why did you choose to move out to L.A.? Or was it more of the case that L.A. chose you?
I signed a U.S. record deal, and all my team was American, so it just made sense for me to be where my team were and to have the opportunity to recreate my narrative over here.

Did the prospect of moving away from home scare you at all?
The worst experience I ever went through was leaving the UK, just because I had no friends over here. The decision to move over here was really hard, but at the same time, if I wouldn’t have done that, then I would never have had these experiences. I’m glad that I got over that. I was twenty when I moved - four years ago now. It was one of those moments in life that was either do-or-don’t. I was thinking about what I was going to do if I didn’t do this. That was my decision-making process. You’ve got to go for it if it’s your dream. Sometimes your dreams are scary.

You recently released your single Last Call. It's such a beautiful and open-hearted song. What was on your mind when you wrote it?
I went through a relationship at the beginning of 2020, and to be honest, I was in such a happy place that I went into the studio having just watched the movie Serendipity, and I was so excited about watching this film, that I felt like I needed to go into the studio and write a love song. I was in one of those time periods where life was exciting. I woke up every day and I was in a certain mindset: being excited to speak to this person. On a Friday night, everybody wants that person to go home with to be their last call. For me, that was what the inspiration behind the song was. I was in a really good place and I wanted to write a love song that touched me.

What do you think makes a good love song?
If you’re honest to yourself and true to how you’re feeling when you put pen to paper.

Did you find that song quick to write?
I think we wrote the song within an hour. We made some tweaks a few days after, but that was one of the quickest songs I’ve ever written. Song-writing varies. Sometimes I’m in the studio all day, other times I can be in there an hour, seven hours, ten hours… it’s worth staying until you get it right. Last Call came around so quickly. It was one of those gut feelings I had.

Your debut EP, Broken Memories, was just released. What does the EP tell us about the stage in life you’re at now?
The EP as a whole is a love story. It’s me falling in love, then getting my heart broken. I wanted to put out a project that people could listen to from start to finish, and then get a good read on who Jamie is as an artist. I wanted people to know that I’m human too. I think I’ve always tried to be perfect for other people. I felt like I had to be honest with my music. That is Broken Memories as a whole, from start to finish. It is an honest representation of who I am as an artist and who I want to be as an artist.

What did you learn from your experience of heartbreak?
I’ll tell you - I went through a really hard stage of feeling depressed. Generally, I’m not a sad person in the slightest, but I was just a sad version of Jamie. It got to a point where I was so sad and had become such an unhappy version of myself that I didn’t really think there would be any light at the end of the tunnel. I know that sounds cliché to say, but no matter how dark of a place you go to, it gets better when you surround yourself with the right people.

Were you still creating music during this time in your life?
In the midst of that, I was still creating. As a singer, it’s your job to make music. I was trying to fight through everything to create stuff that hit me and made me feel something. When you’re going through a heartbreak it’s hard, but you’ve still got to go to work. I just had to keep going. I knew if I did, I’d get there one day.

Is there a track on Broken Memories that you feel the most connected to?
There’s a song called It Is What It Is. It’s so funny because I felt like I needed a song to end the EP that made me feel what I’m feeling right now. I’m over that situation, and I live by the saying it is what it is. I feel like, for me, it’s one of those polite, FU songs. I needed to have one of those on the EP. I’m a human too. I get angry, I get upset. It’s a song that I listen to that makes me so happy that I wrote it.

It made me think about those songs you scream your lungs out to when you’re driving down the motorway with the windows open. Was that your intention?
Yes. That makes me so happy. Thank you.

Why was it important to you to openly share your bisexuality on social media and in your creative work?
Everyone deserves to love who they want to love. I fell for a guy for the first time in my entire life. It got to the point where I felt that I didn’t want people to fall in love with Jamie on a false pretence. I wanted people to fall in love with Jamie for all of me. It was important for me to shed light on that. I’m glad I did because I feel like I’ve helped a lot of people and the way that they’ve opened up to me is special.

What was the impulse behind your decision to be so open with something so personal to you?
It was never something I chose to share for creative reasons. It’s a part of me, I don’t feel like it’s a part of my work. I was at a stage where it didn’t matter who followed me for Jamie’s music, I wanted people to follow me because they loved me as a person, rather than being under the false pretence that “Oh yeah, he just likes girls and he’s just this clean-cut guy”.

In general, how easy do you find it to write music?
It depends on the day. It depends on what mindset I’m in and what I’m going through that day. I find it hard to write something happy. If I’m going through something sad, I’m pen to paper.

Your track 'Wishes' features on the Korean TV drama series Snowdrop. How did that project come about?
That project came about because one of my songs Here’s Your Perfect went number #1 in Asia. I got approached by the owners of the channel that Snowdrop was premiering on and they asked if I’d be a part of it. I was so honoured because I’m a huge fan of Jisoo and Jung Hae-in, they’re amazing people and so great at what they do. That was a huge moment for me because it made sense that this was translating into this success when I’ve tried so hard. Everything was coming to fruition.

For those who are unfamiliar with the K-drama, how does your soundtrack convey some of the emotions portrayed in the series?
The song is a heartbreak song, so it was perfect for me to be on the track at the point I was going through in life.

What do you love about K-pop culture?
K-Pop is a different world. It’s a sign of people being able to let loose and have such an amazing connection with music. Everybody behind it… it’s like a machine. They have such loyal fanbases that no matter what they put out, it always turns into something massive.

In what ways do you feel you've grown as a person through this whole creative process?
I used to have social anxiety. I still do. One of the misconceptions people have is that when you’re a musician you have everything figured out. You can’t complain because you’re a singer and you have it better than a lot of people. That’s not always true. I’ve grown in the respect that I feel like I deserve to be where I’m finally at. Just admitting that - sometimes I feel like I’ve got imposter syndrome, where I’m still that kid from Cardiff who just set out with a dream. Sometimes I question if I even deserve it, but at the same time, I’ve come to learn that I do. Sometimes, to go where you want to go, you have to be a little more real. Even I forget. My favourite people in the music industry, they’re humans. We as humans get excited about the opportunity to experience other people’s art and other people’s lives.

How do you think your sound will evolve as you live more and experience more?
It’s taken a while for me to get to a point where I’m falling in love with the music I’m making. I can’t wait to go on the road and sing these songs to people, because I feel like I connect with them in such a personal way, and I’m excited for people to experience that with me.

How do you unwind when you’re not working?
Singing is a hobby as well as work. I love going on hikes, hanging out with my friends, going to the beach if I’m in L.A., normal stuff - the cinema, to see movies. I wish I was a reader. I wish I could just sit down and read a book. I feel like my mind is all over the place.

Have you ever read with a pen? That’s advice I was given once. To read with a pen, make notes and scribble all over it.
No way! I’m going to try that. I just bought a book, actually. It’s called Atomic Habits. I’ve read a few pages. It’s a book about getting out of bad habits and being able to focus on the important things in life.

Has there been anything you’ve had to put on hold because of your success?
Missing birthdays, family events, parties. That comes with the industry. It was really tough for me to be able to admit that. Unfortunately, because of Covid, I couldn’t make it home to my grandma’s funeral. That still affects me to this day. Sometimes you just think that they would have understood and that they’ll understand along the way because they love you. There’s been a few moments where I’ve had to miss out on things and it’s been hard, but at the end of the day, these are the things you have to sacrifice in order to be able to do what you do. That just comes with the territory of being a musician or being in the entertainment industry.

What aspects of your artistry are you most and least proud of?
When I first started out, I let people write songs for me. That is something that I wish I could change. Everyone should be free to create their own art, and I wish I did from the beginning. I was a late bloomer in the writing space. If I could change anything, I would start again and write my own songs from the get-go. The song that I first put out that I wrote myself was Here’s Your Perfect. That song changed my perspective of where I could go as an artist. Something that I’m really excited about is finally being able to create the art that I’ve always wanted to.

What do you dream of next?
I dream of going on a world tour and selling out shows. Being able to connect with fans all over the world. That’s where my dreams lie and that’s why I wanted to pursue this path as a musician. To connect with people who actually listen to my music. It would be amazing to go all over the world and experience those moments, with those special people and special fans, my manager who I started out with. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia. It’s been on my bucket list since I was a kid. I’d love to play a show there.

You keep a bucket list! What else is on it?
My bucket list: I want to go to Australia, I want to sell out shows in Asia and I want to play a show at the O2 Arena. I don’t even care if it’s a sell-out. I’d love to buy my own house. One in L.A., one in London. The list goes on forever...

It sounds like you’re a big dreamer.
People limit themselves to the street they grew up on. Not everyone is fortunate enough to go forward and follow their dreams, but nowadays, you’ve just got to try. You have to take the risks. Social media can change your life with one click. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no.

Do you believe in the law of attraction?
Getting back what you put out into the world? Absolutely.

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Above left: Jamie wears jacket by Qasimi, shirt by Sebago and necklace by CompletedWorks
Above right: Jamie wears jacket and trousers by Qasimi, shirt by Sebago, shoes by Grenson, necklace by CompletedWorks and sunglasses by Delarge

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Above left: Jamie wears full look by All Saints and sunglasses by Bonnie Clyde
Above right: Jamie wears jacket and jeans by Song for the Mute, tshirt by The Kooples, necklace and ring by CompletedWorks

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Above left: Outfit as before
Above right: Jamie wears tshirt by Garment Projects, shirt by Nanushka, trousers by All Saints, shoes by Grenson and necklace Jamie's own

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Above: Jamie wears jacket by Maison Mihara Yasuhiro, shirt by Stella McCartney, jeans by Zilver and shoes by Grenson

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Above left: Outfit as before
Above right: Jamie wears jacket by Maison Mihara Yasuhiro, shirt by Stella McCartney, jeans by Zilver, shoes by Grenson and ring by CompletedWorks

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Above left: same as before.
Above right: Jamie wears full look by All Saints and shoes by Grenson

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Above left: Outfit as before
Above right: Jamie wears jacket and jeans by Song for the Mute, T-shirt by The Kooples, necklace and ring by CompletedWorks and shoes Dr. Martens

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