Chillwave music tends to bear an association knit tightly within pretentious hipster culture. Jamison, who never shares his last name, plays under the moniker Teen Daze. Despite his associations with the chillwave genre, Teen Daze carries no air of conceit at all. It might be because his music isn’t all that chillwave. He occupies a unique niche in electronica that bears a certain nostalgic character (perhaps intentionally) with an originality all its own. He comes off as an expressive and amiable guy that is genuinely interested in the people around him and what they have to say. Jamison speaks with a near smirk on his face, but as he talks it becomes evident that it’s a smile of graciousness and sincerity, not pretention. He is like the hip music equivalent of a really polite kid from the South, who says sir and ma’am, and never addresses a woman by her first name. It makes you actually want to be happy for his overnight success. Usually when that kind of things happens everyone is a little envious, but Jamison is the kind of person that appears to be so good-natured you can’t help but root for him. This is usually the part of the paragraph where the writer writes something along the lines of, “We sat down with x artist to talk to them about x,y,z.” In a less conventional manner, when I sat down to speak with Jamison we literally sat down on the floor of the venue where he was about to play as if we were kids posted up to see a show – or teenagers rather. By Ali Breland
Your first name is Jamison, but you never tell people your full name. Why is that?
It’s just one of those things. Right off the bat I really wanted to have some sort of separation between my real life and music. It’s not a very hard line, idealistic thing that I truly believe in or anything like that. It’s more so that I feel like our culture, especially in indie music, loves to create celebrities out of people. I never wanted to become something where everyone knows every detail of my life. I’m more than willing to sit down with someone. I’m more than willing to talk with someone, at the same time I feel like there needs to be some sort of separation between the two. Every once in awhile someone will contact me through Facebook. If someone wants to send me an email and say, “Hey I’m a big fan of your music,” that means the world to me. I’m so stoked that people will make the effort to say hello.
On the name Teen Daze, you’ve talked about how it carries a vibe of how people expect ideal teenage years to be – more than how your time as a teenager actually was. What do you think being a teenager is supposed to be like?
I think The Breakfast Club sort of did it right [laughs]. I was born right in the middle of the ’80s. My teenage experience was pretty boring. Especially on those first few records, there’s an innocence to it I think. I think that’s really what it comes down to, is that wide-eyed optimism. I still consider myself to be really optimistic and really hopeful and idealistic. Sometimes the world doesn’t look too kindly on that sort of stuff. There’s a lot of reasons to be cynical and jaded. I think the music is something that I want to equalize everything and have it bring people together without pretension or cynicism.
For All Of Us, Together, your main source of inspiration was a vintage LIFE Magazine encyclopedia. How do you draw inspiration from something like a magazine and translate that into music?
I tend to be really visually stimulated or influenced. Even before I was doing this stuff, I can remember writing a song that was based around the movie The Science Of Sleep. It was just because it was so visually stimulating. I’ve always loved the idea of taking something that doesn’t have an audio companion and then creating something for it. [I use] LIFE Magazine or a lot of old novels and really good design stuff from the ’70s and ’80s. I really like taking that stuff and drawing from those vibes, and that feeling that you get when you’re experiencing really good design and creating what could be the music equivalent to it.
You seem to have really good relationships with blogs. Why is that so important to you?
It’s one of those things. The relationships I’ve made through bloggers have been some of the most valuable relationships I’ve made through music. Whenever I come to New York, I’ll spend time with my friend Dave and his girlfriend. He was a blogger that basically said, “Hey do you want to come crash at my place when you come to New York?” That was the first time I had ever been to New York. That made a huge difference. I come here and I literally feel all home here all because a blogger had posted my music and said, “Hey, come stay with us.” It’s really important to me to foster a community in anyway that I can. Especially two years ago when I first started doing this, that was a huge part of it. So many bands were breaking through blogs then, and of course that’s happening now, but there was a real intense sense of community. That’s really important to me. Doing what I can to bring the people in music together.
There weren’t very many vocals on your last record compared to stuff you’ve done in the past. You’ve talked about bring that element back. Can you talk on that and what your future stuff will sound like?
The next release has a lot more organic sound to it and a lot more instrumentation. All around it’s a lot less since and more guitar. I still play everything on the record. It’s a lot more layered vocals. It’s sort of hard to describe. When I think about what I could compare it to; how I would perceive it myself. I sort of consider it my Iceland record. I just admired so much of their stuff, like Sigur Ros records and the Alex and Jonsi record. I think they’re masterpieces. The way that they can create those vibes that often come with ambient or electronic music, but through organic live instruments is really inspiring. [My album] is more along that line.
You’ve gotten some offers for having your music in commercials in the past. How you feel about your music being featured in that medium?
Every once in awhile something will come along. I do music full-time so any opportunity to score something like that is pretty great, because it means I can pay my bills for that month. I’d love to do some soundtracking or scoring in the future, or something like that.
You sometimes tour with a live band. What’s it like taking electronic music and then putting it into instrument form?
It was a fun process. It was just a chance to hang out with friends basically. I’ve played in bands in the past. I’m excited to move back to a band thing, it’s just so easy to tour by yourself. My load is my bag of clothes and my laptop bag. I enjoy doing it by myself but to do play a record, it demands more instruments than just a computer and more people to play them.
You don’t have an exact place in electronic music. You’re not necessarily chillwave, down-tempo or all of those other frequently mentioned genres. Where do you think you fit into electronic music?
I don’t know. A lot of people give it the chillwave name, but labeling something as chillwave just a big, broad sort of describer for music. It changes from record to record. Sometimes I’ll definitely be like, yeah it’s more of an electronic vibe and then sometimes I’ll have more spacey and out-there style. All those artists I really admire like Four Tet, or Caribou, even going as far back to David Bowie. It’s hard to pin down what [their style] is because it changes so often.
Are those the kinds of guys you want to be like within music?
Yeah, I think Four Tet and Caribou both do an amazing job creating electronic music that’s really just different from the rest, and really just go against the grain. They do things that are similar to a lot of electronic artists. It’s tough to call Four Tet, or Caribou anything. Anyone that is constantly changing, and constantly shifting doing their thing. Beck is another guy who can reinvent himself every four years, and every time he does it’s always interesting and cool and relevant. I admire those guys.
Did any artists in the blog community help guide you coming up at all?
Totally. The guys from Born Gold and Gobble, Gobble were a big source of inspiration and encouragement. Cecil, the man guy from Born Gold gave me a lot of tips and ideas. When I first [started] doing stuff he was always there to listen and give really positive constructive criticism. I got to play a couple of shows with Tycho. Just having Scott [Tycho] say something like, “I’m really glad we could have you on the bill, we really love your tunes.” Something as small as that reminds me why I’m doing this. It’s always good to get that encouragement from people you really admire.
You do a lot of remixes. Most remixes have a specific genre they aim to fall into whether it is dubstep, house, or some discernible combination of recognizable designations. Yours don’t fit into those. What are you trying to do every time you make a remix?
It can change from song to song. I just did a remix for a band called Vacationer. I don’t want to hear a snare in my remix [for that band]. I just want it to be this wavy lo-fi sort of thing, because that’s just the vibe I got from their song. Sometimes it’s all about, “How can I make this work on the dancefloor?” and sometimes it’s just, “What sort of interpretation of this song would I enjoy hearing?”