Jaime Kyle - Wild One, Autumn 2022
Goddess of Rock
Proudly known as a trailblazer for women in rock and the Goddess Of Rock, Jaime Kyle has had an immeasurable amount of success in a career spanning over 30 years. She is a multi award winning and much-covered songwriter, having written multi-platinum hits for artists such as Faith Hill, but what people also need to know is that she is a highflying performer in her own right. It was back in October 1993 that this writer witnessed a life changing moment as he experienced the power of a Jaime Kyle acoustic show in Manchester UK in front of 2,000 people. Something incredibly special was happening on that stage and we all felt it. The room went from being able to hear a pin drop as she captivated us with her performance to an uproar of admiration. That’s how special she is. This November will see Jaime release her incredible new album Wild One. There are some beautiful acoustic moments on this record but make no mistake - this is all about a full-on electric band! We catch up with Jaime at her home in Stinson Beach, Northern California, where we are met with her gorgeous bright smile and the warmest of welcomes. Jaime is clearly hugely proud of this album and she has every right to be so – it is quite simply exceptional! With our fanboy nerves and excitement suitably restrained, our conversation begins…
New album Wild One will be out in November, and what an incredible album this is! Before we talk about some of the specific tracks, with the album’s release in just a few weeks time what sort of thoughts on going through your mind as the date approaches?
Everything is going through my mind, like ‘Did I do this? Did I do that?’, the artwork, the distribution… just everything! Did I forget anybody? And also how to navigate these days with music. Do I release it or do I not release it to streaming first? I just wonder what the best thing is for me to do. So I’m just trying to navigate all of that!
Now I know that this is a record of that you’ve been working on for a number of years and I know that you wanted to have a specific blues focus, or at least more of a blues focus. Tell me about what’s been pulling you in this direction and where that gravitational pull is coming from.
Early on I was playing in clubs, growing up at 14 years old, and I would sing blues. And I love doing it because you can just riff, you know, and just make up things. And in songwriting that’s what we do. You just make up things from whatever pops up in your head. My husband is kind of a funk/soul player - he plays with Pablo Cruise - and I miss having some of that groove that moves your body. So I wanted to experiment and I found it was more freeing. I started to feel like I could soar more vocally. So that’s what kind of pulled me in that direction – you know, a little trial and error - and I just wanted something that moved me and my body.
I’ve had the enormous privilege of seeing you perform acoustically at the Manchester Ritz in October 1993, and that one show had an enormous impact on me simply from the sense of understanding how powerful an acoustic performance can be in front of 2000 people. And when you play acoustically it’s the most beautiful and emotive experiences but there is a sense that with the new album you may have simply wanted it to be ‘louder’. To what extent do you think that’s a fair thing to say.
Yes, I think you’re right! I miss having a band and I have been playing acoustic for years. At first the reason I started playing just acoustic is because of the drama with bandmates. It’s like‘ where’s the guitar player? He’s at some girls house. How do we find him?’ I remember playing in New York at the Ritz and the bass player just went missing! He didn’t have a cell phone – he was just gone with some person and we didn’t know if he was going to show up. All of that really stressed me out before my show so I just thought I’ll depend on myself and I’ll just go and play acoustically. Then when the record came around I just really miss playing with the band. I do play with a band a lot and I have several going. I have one band in Nashville that I use and one band here on the West Coast, and so I am playing more with a band. But you’re right – it is louder!
I think it’s really interesting that you’ve called the album Wild One after a song that you wrote for Faith Hill that went to number one in the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts for four weeks but that you later recorded for yourself, and of course the song itself features on the new album as the opening track. The success of that track for Faith Hill in 1993 was of course enormous. Was that what you intended for the song, for it to be someone else’s hit?
No, I wrote it for myself but at the time I had switched publishing companies. There’s some politics that go with record companies and that one wasn’t even considered. Actually the first demo that we did of it got rejected! I will never forget because at the time they were cassette tapes and the guy threw it down the hall. I was really young and it hurt my feelings so bad. He could’ve said “Hey, you need to rework this” or something but instead he threw the tape down the hall. I just went running after it and I tried to put the tape back together because that was our only copy. I don’t intend my songs to be for someone else but if someone else can relate to it I’m honoured and flattered that they would record my song, and that’s what happened with Faith. She was the right one to do it.
It’s interesting that you say that other artists can relate to it because Wild One has been covered by other high-profile artists as well including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood among many others. But it’s quite interesting that you decided to do your own version. You’ve spoken out about how this song was a true story about your own childhood and I wondered if the autobiographical nature of this song, during your formative years, is something that made this track particularly special and whether of course this is kind of you ‘taking that song back’?
Do you know, I didn’t think of that way but I think you’re right. It’s my identity but I meet young girls, younger kids and people of all ages who come up to me and say ‘this is my song’. That’s great! I don’t think we all fit into a box. As a young girl you’re told ‘do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that’ and then it’s like ‘we want to express ourselves’. I think that is why that song reaches so many people, even guys! I think that’s because we all have that spirit of exploring and trying to figure out who we are, to take our steps and take our power back. I think that’s one reason why I wanted to do it. I think that because it is autobiographical it was important for me to do it. I didn’t think about it that way, I just thought that I love the song and I want to do it the way that I hear it and the way that I wrote it.
Well in advance of the album’s release we have of course been treated to the new single Driving With The Brakes On which was released in the summer. This is all about relationships and the desire for the next date to be the one though sadly it doesn’t always work like that! This is a track that I know has already resonated so strongly with so many people. But I think it was a conversation with your sister that provided the inspiration for this track wasn’t it?
Yes! She was newly divorced at the time and she was talking about dating because there’s a period of where you try and try and try to meet that right person, you want to meet the right person so you try really hard. I did it! And it was disastrous! I met some very nice people along the way who became friends but we weren’t compatible in dating, and then I met some people that I was like ‘Oh my God, I would never go out with this person!’. And I’m sure it goes both ways but it just brought back all these memories because I had all those frustrations for a very long time and I didn’t get married until 12 years ago. My sister was so frustrated and she just said it’s like driving with the brakes on. And I was like “Yes, it is!”. I just started spilling how I remembered how it affected me. It was like I’d be dating this guy and he’d be dating three other women that I didn’t know about, and then I’d find out and I’d be like ‘Wait a minute, I haven’t been dating anyone else’. We hadn’t had that conversation but then it’s just maddening all the hoops you have to go through on the ground: ‘Are we exclusive? Are we not exclusive?’. It’s very hard and it’s very emotional. I feel like Kris Barras’ guitar really drives it home. He takes it to the edge of the curve of the cliff and makes you feel like you’re going to fall off any second! Then it comes back a little bit like you’re driving some more and then you’re right on the edge again where you going to fall off. I think the intensity really speaks to the lyrics as well.
Absolutely! And let’s just pick up on Kris because it is wonderful that he plays lead guitar on this track and he sounds absolutely stunning! Country and Americana infused rock is something with a massively growing popularity here in the UK and I think it’s fair to say that Kris is one of our most exciting artists. How did this collaboration come about?
Well a friend of mine was managing me and I was over in Europe and I said “Hey, is there any place I can play while I’m over here?” and he called up Ramblin’ Man and they put me on to do an acoustic show. I borrowed a guitar from Kris and rehearsed with it that the night before because I didn’t have a guitar with me. I had been gone already for about a week so I needed to practice. So he loaned me his guitar. Later, it didn’t work out with myself and my manager because Covid hit and there was nothing to manage at that time. So I was doing this track and I had asked him about Kris Barras playing on it and Kris said he would. I kind of didn’t want to go back to that source because it felt like it was too close because he was managing Kris at that time too. So another friend of mine called up Kris and said “Hey, would you play on this track?” and he said “Oh yeah! I said I would do it and I’ll do it”. And he did and I’m so happy to have him!
What I particularly love about this song is that even though it’s about feeling drained about the pressures of relationships, it’s actually a high energy uplifting track that I think many people are going to find really empowering! Is this something you were specifically trying to achieve?
No, I wasn’t! That’s just the way that it came to me. It’s a great singalong song, it’s something you put in the car and you might get a speeding ticket because it’s going to make you go faster! (Laughs!) Then you will be singing along at the top of your lungs and people look at you like you’re crazy! (Laughs!) It’s just that kind of song: it’s dramatic and it’s just fun to sing to. There are many little mini hooks in it.
Jaime, I absolutely adore the song Blue Night. It’s one of the more relaxed songs on the album with its acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment but it’s just another reminder of what an incredibly beautiful voice you have and how gifted you really are as a songwriter. On a personal level all I wanted to do was pick up my acoustic guitar and play along. I thought that the lyrics ‘Driving in the dark looking for some kind of light’ were very much a story of – and a journey of - hope. I would love to hear the story behind this song.
Well that’s an interesting story because I wrote this song a long time ago and it’s one that kept resurfacing. People kept saying “You’ve got to do Blue Night”. But I wrote this song in a hotel room in LA. I was supposed to get together with Joni Mitchell’s husband at the time, Larry Klein, but Larry couldn’t make it. He asked if we could postpone the writing because he was going through a divorce and having a hard time, and at the time I was trying to break up with someone that I’d been with for a long time and I didn’t quite know how to do it. There weren’t any rules on how you break up with someone. After that conversation I hung up the phone and it just came to me. I think it was about me getting in a car to feel freedom: to feel the freedom of the visuals and to find myself without anyone else. I didn’t understand what that would look like and what that would feel like. And that was the moment of feeling like ‘I’m in it. I’m in the break-up’. I’m not past the break up and I’m not just before it. Even though I haven’t yet told him, I am breaking up right with him now in that moment. And that’s what you’re hear in the song.
Friends in high places...
What’s also wonderful about this album is the stellar cast of musicians and artists who have joined you to create this incredible album. The first one I like to talk about is Dave Jenkins of the band Pablo Cruise who plays on Lie, Happy Town, Wild One and Blue Night. I know that you’ve been friends with Dave for many years and when you perform together the friendship that you have really shines through and it’s a wonderful thing to see. Tell me about how you first met Dave and how this latest partnership came about.
Well, we ended up getting married! (Laughs!) We actually met when I was a kid. He was on the road touring with this band Pablo Cruise and they had big hits, and I was in school. I had just started high school – maybe even middle school. I loved music so much, I knew who everybody was that played on anything and I was just an historian. I was so interested in songwriters and the musicians and everything. He was on the road with his band and I went with this woman who was 21 and we went out of state to see them play. Well, she had backstage passes, we watched the concert and she just disappeared! I didn’t know what happened. I had just lost her. So I’m wandering around this hotel looking for her thinking she might be there. I had no idea where she was and I was worried! I didn’t know what I was going to do if I couldn’t find her. It was 1 o’clock in the morning and I was so tired because we had driven 12 hours to get to the show. Dave came stumbling down the hall and he said “Hey, what are you doing out here?” and I said “I’m trying to find my friend“. I could tell that he knew something was up and that she was with someone or something. I didn’t have a clue, and he said “You can stay in my room, it will be okay”. I was terrified. I didn’t care who he was, even though he was one of the best singers ever and the best guitar players at that time. I was like ‘I’m a kid, this is a man’… so anyway, I ended up staying in his room. I didn’t sleep, I had all my clothes on, and then I heard the woman’s voice outside the room and I just jumped up and got her and then we got in the car and left. I never said goodbye or anything to Dave. We talked for a long time, he told me that he lived in California we just kind of made small talk and then he went to bed and I went to bed. I got home and everything was fine but years later, about 13 years ago, I asked a friend of mine “Hey, don’t you know a good guy you can fix me up with?” and she said “Yeah, Dave Jenkins of Pablo Cruise” and I went “I’ve already slept with him!” (Laughs!). I explained the whole story and then that woman and I went on a vacation together and it just popped into my head “Hey, call Dave Jenkins - I want to thank him for not taking advantage of me”. I just had this moment of gratitude. He could’ve taken advantage but he didn’t and I wanted to thank him. So she called him and he Googled me and he said “Hey, do you wanna get together?”. I didn’t think anything of it but he called three times in one day and I said “God, he called three times in one day – what do you think he wants?” and she’s like “Hey, stupid! He wants to go out with you!”. So he called, we met up and we’ve been together ever since.
That’s a great story and also, yes he is a great singer, he is a great guitarist but he also proved himself to be an absolute gentleman too!
I’m not sure he’s always been that way with everybody but he was with me! (Laughs!) He is a rockstar, you know!
Blues rock guitarist Bernie Marsden has a special place in the hearts of UK music fans and it’s wonderful to hear his contribution to the song Not About Love. What I love about this song is that it’s a perfect example of how from a guitar playing perspective you can say so much with just a few notes. Was this something you were specifically looking for or did it simply organically evolve this way?
It evolved that way. The track is a little different for me and different from anything else I’ve done but I just went with it because it was so beautiful! It was a one take vocal and it’s a very special song. I was talking to Bernie’s label and I asked “Hey, do you think Bernie would put guitar on this?”. Dave and I had tried it before but it just seemed like there was another person in the room who shouldn’t be in the room. That’s what it felt like. It took some doing for somebody to add guitar to it. It had to be the exact right thing because not just anything would fit with that track. When people hear it they’ll know what I’m talking about. Bernie loved this song, played on it and just did a wonderful job! It’s just beautiful!
It’s interesting that you said the song is a little bit different for you because, another song which is very different Perfect Love. Things seem get a little bit funky with this song! At the start of our conversation you talked about getting up and dancing. The rhythm guitar at the start of this track absolutely makes me want to get up and dance! I think what this song also brought home to me is how across this track and across the album more generally there are just some wonderful new sounds being made. Yes, they are still in the country and rock ZIP code, but it all sounds fresh with boundaries being pushed. For this album were you consciously thinking about creating not just great songs but new sounds too?
Yes, I was stretching myself! I did think about that. Dave wrote that song and that’s the only song I’ve ever recorded of somebody else’s. It just moved me! I loved it and I loved what it said – it was just so funky! I just thought ‘God, I want to do this and I want to see what I sound like doing this’. I love the way that it felt and the way that it sounded, and he’s just funky! (Laughs!) And it’s a duet with him singing on there too.
Well that is very interesting because the other great things about this track which further reinforces my suggestion that you are pushing boundaries is the conversational quality that comes in with Dave as the second vocalist - a very unexpected twist but one that absolutely works!
That’s Dave on acoustic guitar too. Pablo Cruise are still playing and there is just fantastically wonderful, world class musicianship in that band. People think that because it makes your body move, that it sounds simple and that you can sing along that they are simple guitar parts. But they’re not! They are very complicated.
Heart’s Howard Leese is another long-time friend of yours and he plays on Dirty Goodbye which is perhaps the most perfect driving song: up tempo and gorgeous lead lines that play through out the track, as well as the most epic solo that brings the song to a conclusion. The lead guitar is something very, very special. What conversations did you have with Howard in terms of ensuring you got the guitar contribution you wanted?
Well he showed up at a Pablo Cruise concert and I said “Oh my God! I’m so glad to see you! I was going to ask you if you would play on a track?”. I think he told me that he’d just retired and I was like “Oh, that’s too bad!” He said “Send it to me!”. So I sent it to him and he sent me back an email saying “This rocks! I’ll do for you like what I did with Anne Wilson in Heart and I’ll answer your vocals!”. He was excited about it, and needless to say he is the epitome of a rockstar. I was so excited because I’m just such a fan of his as well as a friend. It just turned out great! When you hear Howard, you know it’s him.
You worked with Australian musician, and now Nashville resident, Chris Pelcer on Kiss Dirt, Body Of Gold and Broken. You seem to have a lot in common it’s Chris because he too is a very gifted songwriter who has written for some of the best artists in the business. These 3 songs you worked on together are absolutely stunning. I can imagine that Chris probably more than anyone else 100% understands you personally from a career and creative perspective. Would you agree and do you also think that this special relationship meant that you were always going to create some wonderful music together?
With some people your inner child is just attracted to their inner child and you just play, and that’s what I have with Chris. We just get together and go nuts. Whatever comes out of our mouths we go with it, and that’s so much fun and so freeing. We don’t judge each other, and he’s just a brilliant musician, producer and writer as well. We’ve been friends for a long time. Like before I was married we were friends, he lives around the corner and we have coffee together most mornings. If he needs something I’ll help him and if I need something he helps me. He’s a best friend, a best mate and a great writing partner – because we do come from similar places, you’re right. He’ll do a track and I’ll take it further or I’ll give him something and he’ll take it further. It works extremely well.
Let’s move on to Jaime Kyle in a live setting. I know you have a couple of private shows in October but do you have any plans to tour? We would love to see you in the UK!
I want to come! I want to play! It’s been a matter of releasing the album to get booked, and then I have to have live footage so that people can see that I can play. It’s like blah blah blah blah blah (Laughs!). So I’m waiting to release the album to get booked! We’ll see what happens! I’m hoping for the best and I’m hoping that I get booked up and I’m so busy that I just can’t stand it, which I can’t imagine because I just love playing!
With the highest of recommendations...
As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect upon what a wholly outstanding album Wild One really is. Exceptional songs which quite simply create the most uplifting and emotive of experiences. The heart, soul and sheer love that has gone into this album brightly shines through and it is with the highest of recommendations that we invite you to head over to www.jaimekyle.com to find out more. In the meantime, enjoy the video to Driving With The Brakes On below.