Artist, composer and gay icon Jamie McDermott exposes himself entirely in his music, crying out unfiltered sentiments that hold unparalleled emotional potency. Through vocals, orchestral arrangements, and multimedia productions, he has provided a voice for those who have been silenced, for those who exist in fear; calling out to live in love.
McDermott’s most recent video, “Two Men in Love” is “age-restricted” on YouTube for portraying gay couples kissing. With an absolute absence of sexual activity, the video shows only real men, real couples loving each other.
He told 429Magazine,“It’s a song about long lasting love and deep love and I just wanted to involve gay fans in a video and so we asked our fan base to send in videos of them and their partners kissing.”
The song itself was written for his partner of 11 years—a song about loving him.
“It’s just a document of real love. It’s quite a simple concept.”
In regards to the video being restricted, McDermott is both thrilled and saddened.
“It’s just such an exciting time right now though isn’t it? There’s just so much that’s happening universally in terms of gay rights. It’s becoming a time where more and more people are feeling as they they’ve got acceptance. These things are just little obstacles I think.”
His disappointment stems from the prevention of visibility to the youth—that they will not receive access to the message as “those are the people that need to see it.”
At the same time, he is stunned by the amount of support he has received from straight men for the Irrepressibles campaign.
“A lot of straight men have brought liberation to the gay movement. Times are changing with that.”
What may be most appealing in McDermott’s music is his desire and ability to be entirely honest. Freedom is an aspect he strives for on a number of levels: within the LGBT movement, society, and within himself.
Through his music, he aspires to recreate a sense of true liberation.
“You see somebody full of joy and they’re dancing and you just can’t touch that can you? How can you manage to dance with music, or express the real raw emotion of something? It’s amazing to try and get into that.”
This idea though is something he also struggles with. He dreams of being able to dance like nobody’s watching.
“I’ve always been really desperately insecure… Music has been quite a therapeutic thing for me in my life that helped me to come to terms with myself and find ways of create beautiful things out of it, hopefully.”
He explained that he lives in the moment, but after coming out of a situation, he steps back into uncertainty.
“I’ve [got]my own issues you know, as we all do as people. I’d just love to be able to just let go more.”
However, his ability to lose himself on stage is compelling, to say the least. Singing is his release—“one of the freest places in [his]life.”
He said, “Sometimes I become so vulnerable on stage that I want to run away, but the support, the audience is so in the moment… and we dance so we’re connecting the line of the music to the physicality of movement. So it’s really, really connected and as a band we get on so well. We’re in a really intense space with each other on stage… It’s like a séance, really, with those times in the moment.”
Starting out with a little keyboard as a child, McDermott took lessons, wrote songs, and then expanded to piano and writing for the school orchestra. He wanted to be in a band when he fell in love with a boy.
“It was an unrequited love. So that’s when I started singing. I was 14.”
He went on then to study other forms of singing, discovering his different voices, and played acoustic guitar for a time; when he delved into music sociology and music production, he thought to change the existing landscape of pop and rock.
From there, orchestra and instrumentation coincided with choreography of “how the band members could move” and how they could be set “in different scenarios, different installations.” He began to create his now renowned installation-site-specific performance based pieces.
Though classically trained, McDermott came from a working class background, and was determined to produce music free of pretention.
“I wanted to make music that was emotional and connected to people. I decided to work with different forms, other forms of the arts… dance and fashion and art and film, but make a new type of pop music.”
As such, each piece of his multimedia performance plays an integral role, strategically placed in sound and space. Every sound, image, and movement is representative of an emotion, a memory, a time frame focusing on subjects such as gay iconography and the body, homosexual stories about growing up and being bullied, and sexuality, love and emancipation. A profound connection stands between the choreography, projections, music, and the moment of being with the audience.
With the shift into electro for his new album “Nude,” the elements are a timestamp so to speak… “like time capsules,” while strings are “timeless”, developing an emotional landscape. The new sound also stands to reference gay aesthetics and the gay disco “as a sense of finding liberation in the club.”
For “Nude,” he took songs from when he was 18 and coming out—all real stories about his life growing up, from which he developed arrangements “that make sense to those songs and the meanings of those songs and their context in time… stylist things like 80s electronic and things that reference the time that the songs were placed and written.”
In one of his songs, “New World,” he speaks to the boy he was in love with when he was 19. He came out to him, but received in response, “I wish I could… I wish I could be as brave as you.”
Despite the emotional connection, the revival of his songs also stemmed from the suicides last year from gay bullying.
“This song had another meaning in that context. It became a song of hope.”
The “New World” video expanded on the message featuring a boy who undergoes gay bullying and kills himself, but is brought back to life by those that “decided enough is enough.”
“What is amazing is that this year and last year we’ve got this big international feeling, this change for equality… we need our children to feel that they can be themselves and it’s still saddening that [in]over 1/3 of the world… you can be killed for being gay. But you know change is coming.”
McDermott’s songs exude the fervor of a bullied child grown up to become a humanitarian. He has found his cause through his music.
“When I was young [and]discovered my sexuality… I attempted to commit suicide and decided not to go that way—[I] decided to basically explain to the wider world the beauty of being in love with another man.”
Though McDermott maintains an activist appeal, he stated that his music is not written to appeal to a specific audience.
“It’s not about wanting to make a record just purely for the gay community, it’s about making a record to explain the beauty of being a gay man, but at the same time gay love, but also at the same time real issues about my life. I think it’s important for gay artists to be their difference… rather than trying to be straight in their music in order to appeal.”
For an artist that took 10 years to get signed, who initially brought confusion to the industry rather than acclaim, McDermott truly practices what he preaches.
“It’s far more interesting music if people are themselves… I think it puts so much more diversity, and different ideas that can come out of music. It’s all of those tiny little differences in opinion—it’s what makes something really unique and that’s what you’ve got to stick to.”