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Cambridge singer Jamie Wiltshire: ‘I’m starting from zero again’

When Cambridge singer-songwriter Jamie Wiltshire last spoke to the Cambridge Independent, in November 2020, he and his band Standing Like Statues were gearing up to do an online gig (remember them?) live from The Portland Arms. A lot has changed since then, not least Jamie becoming a father and almost having to give up singing altogether.

Jamie Wiltshire, aka Jamie Black. Picture: Sam Lance
Jamie Wiltshire, aka Jamie Black. Picture: Sam Lance

“Just after we spoke [in 2020], my life got flipped like 180,” recalls the very active vocalist, speaking from his home in Haverhill, “I’d just started my career as a musician and then I found out I had polyps on my vocal cords.

“So I had to have vocal surgery and it just knocked my confidence for six – I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue with this career, but four years later I’m still going and stronger now. My vocal ability is definitely stronger than it was a few years ago.”

Also since our last conversation, Jamie and his partner had a daughter, who’s now 10 months old (“She is by a million miles the best thing that could have ever happened to me”), and he also left Standing Like Statues – one of Cambridge’s top alternative rock bands.

Jamie also said goodbye to Dear Monday, another indie rock outfit he fronted, and has now gone solo, as a singer-songwriter-producer under the name Jamie Black.

“There’s no particular reason why I went under that name,” he says, “I spent probably a good part of six months to a year discussing with my partner what new artist name I should go under, and out of all the hundreds of names we were going through, this one just stuck.”

Jamie left Standing Like Statues, whose track Survival won in the rock category at the UK Songwriting Contest 2022, at the end of 2022.

“I just felt like it had run its course,” says the musician, who was born and brought up in Cambridge, “us as a band had been working together for around 10 years at that point – we had a couple of on and off moments.

“I just completely lost my passion for that particular project at that time. We had some amazing opportunities – we were in [widely-read rock magazine] Kerrang!, BBC radio... but it just wasn’t in my heart any more.

“I’m still so proud of the music and everything that we created, and I’ll look back in years to come and I know I’ll still be proud of it.”

Moving away from his rock background, Jamie, who insists “never say never” when asked about the possibility of a Standing Like Statues reunion one day, released a new drum & bass/pop song titled Reborn on 19 January.

“Over the past 15 years or so of doing music in rock band projects, I found that the amount of funds that it takes to get into a recording studio, music videos… at the end of the day you’re spending thousands of pounds, and that doesn’t even include any marketing or press or radio plugging, or anything like that,” he notes.

“So with this project, I can essentially do most things – I can produce everything from home and it doesn’t really cost me a penny.

“I only started producing in the last maybe six months to a year, and I’ve just found this spark has really come back inside me – this real love and passion for music.”

Taking this new-found creativity and burning desire to make music in yet another direction, in 2023 Jamie enjoyed success when music he’d written, with his Australian co-writer Ian Jones, was used in film and TV placements around the world.

“We work on a lot of projects together,” says Jamie, “specifically aimed at film and TV. We had some stuff last year on Blue Peter, Home & Away, Neighbours, Gordon Ramsay, just a few TV shows.

“We’d been working together for about three, four years prior to this with the goal to get our songs on film and TV, and that specific project was with that intention in mind.”

Jamie Wiltshire, aka Jamie Black. Picture: Sam Lance
Jamie Wiltshire, aka Jamie Black. Picture: Sam Lance

Jamie plans to follow up Reborn with a number of other new songs, some of which are collaborations with other local artists, such as rapper Taylor Mayd.

“I’m hoping to release a single every six to eight weeks, throughout the year,” he says, “so that should give me around nine tracks by the end of 2024.

“By the end of 2024, if I feel those songs work well together then I probably will compile them into an album – but this year’s focus is just singles.

“And I don’t have any intention this year to get back to live performance, which has always been my main passion – the one thing that really excites me as an artist.

“This year’s all about focusing on the singles and hoping to build up my fanbase, as this is a completely brand new project.

“I’m essentially starting from zero again, so hopefully I can find my tribe – people that enjoy the music that I’m creating – and then my plan for 2025 is to hopefully get some really cool gigs, and back to playing festivals as well.”

Jamie’s ‘full-time job’ is session work, lending his vocal talents to other musical projects. “It’s something that I just kind of fell into,” he observes, “it wasn’t my intention…

“So what happened, I think it was around 2019, I had a great job working at Spotify for many years and then, again, I just lost my love for the role and I wanted to do something in my life that I was super passionate about.

“So I quit Spotify and then was working part time, trying to build something from music. I put out a video on YouTube titled ‘On a mission to become a full-time musician’, and within the space of less than a year, I found myself as a full-time musician, working on websites like AirGigs and Fiverr.

“So my main passion is as an artist, but the thing that pays the bills and puts a roof over my family’s head is the session work, which I’m still super passionate about. I get to work with musicians from bedroom producers to well-known musicians all around the world.”

If all that wasn’t enough, Jamie also finds time to host and produce a podcast. Titled Your Ghost Stories, the project involves him interviewing people from all over the world about their “unexplainable or paranormal experiences”.

“It’s just another passion of mine,” he says.

For more on Jamie Wiltshire the session musician, visit sessionvocalist.co.uk. For more on Jamie Black, the singer’s new project, go to iamjamieblack.com.

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