Jamie Lidell - Biography
By Marcus Kagler
As a British electronic artist with a powerful southern soul voice and a penchant for hip hop recording techniques, Jamie Lidell arguably sounds like a schizophrenic mess on paper. Musically, however, Lidell manufactures an inspired and infectiously experimental electronic/soul hybrid ripe for neo-soul enthusiasts and the electronic crowd alike. Armed with a penchant for looping his own beatboxed sound effects, a multi-octave vocal range, and an eclectic (if slightly deranged) sense of humor and fashion sense, Lidell and his laptop have ironically become more of a favorite within indie rock communities worldwide than with fans of electronica and soul. What’s even more ironic is although Lidell uses unconventional tools and aesthetics the end result of almost all his work is highly melodic and increasingly more accessible to mainstream sensibilities with each successive release. Yet after three full length albums he still hasn’t been able to score that elusive crossover hit, even though he’s been ripe to for quite some time. Like many prophetic artists before him, Lidell isn’t endearing to the mainstream because his music defies the conventional definitions of what certain genres should sound like. Given some hindsight however, it is safe to assume Jamie Lidell is on a short list of artists who are actively changing our perception of music even if he’s not currently being recognized for it by the powers that be.
Born on September 18, 1973 in Huntingdon, England, the impetus for Lidell’s career in music began with instrumental IDM based electronic music. After releasing a number of IDM based EP’s in the late 90’s, including the Freaking the Frame EP (1997 Mosquito) and Safety In Numbers EP (1998 Sativae), Lidell formed the electronic side project Super_Collider with techno artist/producer extraordinaire Cristian Vogel, releasing their debut full length Head On (Loaded) in 1999. The duo’s hit club single, “Darn (Cold Way O’ Lovin’)” established Lidell as a buzz worthy artist and he quickly turned around his debut solo full length, Muddlin Gear (2000 Warp), which continued his exploration of dense instrumental IDM compositions. The album went un-noticed however and Lidell returned to Super_Collider, releasing the sophomore effort Raw Digits (Warp) in 2002. Hoping to appeal to a broader audience, Lidell integrated a heavy neo-soul influence into a more melodic and organic sound complete with his own shockingly adept and powerful vocal parts only hinted at in his previous work. Multiply (2005 Warp) slowly became an underground success with Lidell building a word of mouth fanbase by way of his eclectic live performances normally featuring just Lidell looping himself using a laptop, microphone, and some serious vocal gymnastics complete with shameless dance moves as seen during his Amoeba Music Hollywood in-store performance on June 28, 2006. Not long after Lidell began to accrue a devout following in North America and the remix album, Multiply Additions (2006 Warp) was released to satiate his growing audience while Lidell worked on his third full length album.
Over two years in the making, Jim (2008 Warp) nearly abandoned Lidell’s electronic tendencies for a raw, stripped down sound firmly rooted in the deep fried Southern Soul aesthetic albeit with modern production values and featuring notable contributions from Peaches and Nikka Costa amongst others.