The Irrepressibles Lead Singer Talks About Being Gay and the Men He's Loved
By Christopher Rudolph
Jamie McDermott, lead vocalist for the chamber ensemble The Irrepressibles never felt the need to hide who he was. Though the music industry may not always be the most accepting towards gay people, he felt it was such a strong part of him it couldn't, and shouldn't be repressed. After releasing the video for their latest single, Two Men in Love, which shows two men falling in love, and all of the affection that comes along with that, Jamie sat down to discuss his band's latest album, Nude and, amongst other things, being gay in the world of music.
Where did the name The Irrepressibles come from?
Its about breaking boundaries in music and being honest about being gay in music.
How would you describe the new album, Nude?
It's a story about being a gay man. My story and one at times about those I've loved. Some songs I wrote when I was only 19... and others more recently.
How have you found being an openly gay singer in the music world? Has there been much resistant or do you find general acceptance when dealing with other singers and bands?
There has been a lot of resistance from the music industry. It can be quite a conservative place. Other bands have been pretty supportive I'd say.
Are the songs autobiographical? Do a lot of past experiences and situations influence the majority of your work?
Yes I only make autobiographical work for The Irrepressibles. I was quite a troubled child and this is a kind of catharsis for me. I'm an obsessive and so I can't help composing and inventing in my head.
How was it growing up gay in England? What are your thoughts on the passing of gay marriage recently in the House of Commons? Do you think there’s been a shift in your country?
There's a massive shift internationally. It is a beautiful moment for homosexuals. We are reaching nearer to equality but there are still those that are bullied, tortured and killed for being homosexual. There is still a lot to do.
You've been compared to Antony and the Johnsons, Kate Bush, and even other large ensemble troupes like Arcade Fire. Are these comparisons accurate? Who are some of your influences musically?
These comparisons are great. I am, in fact, only influenced by Kate Bush in terms of who you list, but Bowie, Buckley, Chet Baker, David Lynch, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood are big influences.
The latest single off this album is Two Men in Love. Who was your first love? Does love influence your work today?
I fell in love when I was at school. It changed my perspective on life. It was unrequited and as a socially reclusive child I became very depressed. At that time it wasn't okay to be gay and I was bullied viscously. I made it a mission to explain the beauty of being gay in my music. At least it's what I hope to do, to be honest.
If you knew an up and coming singer who was gay, what advice would you give him about being gay in the music industry, or just life in general?
Make work about your life. You are unique and difference is what the music industry needs. New perspectives make for innovation.
What’s next for you and The Irrepressibles?
We are touring the new album Nude internationally with a new vision I had of a live show, set amongst films about memory, emancipation and homosexual love. Aside from this I'm contributing music for film and performing vocals for some amazing electronic artists which will be released this year. It's a busy time but I'm obsessed with being part of music.