Jamie Macdowell, singer and guitarist

The secret is we’ve never been prepared, and also the secret is that we’re always prepared ...

If you think about it, some of the best things come in pairs. The two-piece feed, fish and chips, gin and tonic, Jamie Macdowell and Tom Thum – the list goes on. That latter pairing is particularly intriguing, as it brings guitar and beatboxing together as one of the most dynamic musical pairings currently performing around the country. Singer and guitarist Jamie Macdowell has been collaborating with Tom Thum for years, and their dynamic compositions bring together to disparate styles to create something truly unique. The duo will be performing at the end of November at part of Wonderland Festival. We caught up with Jamie to chat about his early influences, pairing up with a beatboxer and what we can expect from his show on Thursday November 30.

Take us back to the first time you picked up a guitar. Can you remember the feeling you had when you first put your fingers to the frets?
I can remember knowing that I was going to have to work hard. My decision to be a professional songwriter preceded my decision to buy a guitar, so I was already locked in by the time I found the frets.

Who or what were some of your early inspirations when you were honing your musical craft?
I watched Jason Mraz singing his song ‘Sleep All Day’ on Channel V in 2002 and some light went on in my head. I’d never thought about being a musician until then, and so-began a ten-year study of his musicality. Before Mraz happened to me, I listened to a lot of rap. Eminem, Hilltop Hoods, and Wu Tang mainly.

We’re very excited to see you perform with Tom Thum at Wonderland, but many people might now know that you’re frequent collaborators. When did the two of you first link up?
I was an acrobat before I was a musician, and I met Tom in 2009 when I joined a touring circus he was performing with. We became room mates on tour and began playing music together at home, and eventually on stage in the circus show. Our current show is far less dangerous.

When you decided for perform together, how long did it take you to find a harmony between his beatboxing and your guitar?
Not long at all. Tom and I share a love of hip-hop, and so our idea or rhythm is really similar. I try to approach my guitar playing as a drummer on a back beat, so harmony came naturally.

What does the addition of beatboxing do to expand what can be accomplished as a two-piece outfit?
The addition of Tom Thum, turns the duo into much more than vocal percussion meets singer/guitarist. Tom sings lead vocals on some songs, and he adds harmonies to most songs. He can emulate horn, string, and bass parts vocally, and also builds big sounding loops. He makes us capable of sounding like an acoustic duo, a four-piece jazz band, and an electronic act all in one gig.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what audiences can expect from your performance at the Brisbane Powerhouse on November 30?
You can expect to be confused by how unprepared we seem, in contrast to how well executed the show is. The secret is we’ve never been prepared, and also the secret is that we’re always prepared.

It’s readily apparent that you like to take your music career in different directions – what is one thing that you are itching to try musically?
Performing with a horn section. I think Tom would agree that an on-stage horn section will make all your problems disappear. I’ve heard that bands with horn sections never run out of battery on their phones, and never get small stones in their shoes.

We’re all about finding inspiration in the world around us! What is something that has been stoking the creative fires for you lately?
I’ve been listening to Alex Rossi’s new album, Echoes From The Arches. It makes me dance in my car. Also, opiates. Joking. Not joking about Alex Rossi, though.

Jamie Macdowell and Tom Thum will be bringing their incredible live show to the Brisbane Powerhouse on Thursday November 30 for Wonderland Festival. Purchase your tickets here.


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