The name Draper has been batted around EDM and electronic music circles for the last five years or so, and you’ve probably heard one of his remixes of Rita Ora, or Ellie Goulding, or the current crossover smash of Prides’ ‘Break Over You’.
But who is he? We grabbed a coffee and the Kent-based DJ / producer (first name: Jamie) to find out ahead of his first proper headline show next week.
Hi Jamie! Give us your story so far. We understand there’s a connection with Bring Me The Horizon along the way,…
"In November 2010, I put out my first ever EP. I had nothing around it, it was just me and I put it online. Through that, the craziest connection came about. A Canadian guy featured me on his blog, on a Best Dubstep Of 2010 list, and I was number 19. He happened to be friends with Oli [Sykes, Bring Me The Horizon vocalist] and he sent it over for him to check out. Oli liked it because it reminded him of Sonic The Hedgehog! Through that, he opened the doors for oppurtunities; he hooked me up with a couple of remixes, I did stuff with his clothing label, and then eventually after all that he asked me to do this very unofficial remix EP. There was a massive issue with releasing it, and people were asking about it for like a year. It was their material so I couldn’t do anything with it, and eventually it just leaked and from that it got into NME magazine. That was mad!"
You have such an eclectic sound and you’ve worked with everyone from Rita Ora, to Ellie Goulding, to Prides. Where do your musical tastes lie?
"Well my first CDs were Avril Lavigne’s ‘Let Go’ and 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’. So right off the bat, it’s pretty confusing! That’s what it’s been like since. I’ve never really connected to one genre, and I’ve never gone ‘this is my favourite band’. I hear different things and I take inspiration from it.
"My influences growing up were just all over the place. My dad listened to a lot of rock music – Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, Rolling Stones – which I was never that into. I wouldn’t go and listen to one of their albums on a whim, but I’d listen to a Coldplay album on a whim because it’s just so easy to listen to."
"I quite like that when it’s instantly accessible. You don’t have to really sit there and think about what you’re listening to. As much as that can be great, it’s nice to listen to something really well written but also really easy to listen to.
"Also: I don’t hear lyrics in songs. I just don’t hear them. If I listen to a song, I could probably tell you a line from the chorus but that’s about it! I listen to thew production of the tracks so much more they just wash over me."
For people who have heard the name Draper before, or heard you DJ, what sort of a vibe should they expect from a Draper live set?
"Energy! Energy, man. It’s just good vibes. I only write songs that make me happy. It’s not down-tempo. It’s far from that. It’s like all the songs always bring something energetic, I don’t know what better word to use. I go from house, to 100bpm stuff, it’s all just big sounds. You won’t get bored. There’s no way you can get bored – there’s no dip in the set where it gets a bit slower."
Is that reflective of your personality? Are you quite a positive, energetic person?
"I guess so! I just don’t enjoy writing sad songs. For me it makes no sense. I’m rarely sad, so I’m not in that place to write a song. Also when I’m writing, there’s just something about a minor key which is such a downer!"
How is the show going to work, then? What’s the Draper live set-up?
"It’s an interesting one. It’s been this constant battle with myself of how to make it into a ‘performance’. The spectrum is DJing and live performance, and I’m trying to find a balance. It’s taking influence from that, blending tracks together in a way a DJ would, but then I’m still playing tracks.
"I use an Octopad drum machine, keys and sampling stuff, and it’s doing a bit of each throughout the tracks. The main part of the show is the vocalist. These tracks are all so song-based that the vocalist brings so much to the performance.
"We’ve got a girl called Jazz Morley – she’s a great singer. How did I meet her? I was writing tracks for her, then she wrote on some of mine."
Who are you listening to right now? What’s pricked up your ears so far in 2016?
"There’s one which I’m always listening to, which is Madeon. I really want to achieve what he’s achieved. I go through his album and in production terms, he just nails every song. It has such character to it. That’s something I’m always working towards – making sure the track I’m writing has a really distinct character.
"CHVRCHES, man. I missed the entire CHVRCHES peak when everyone was talking about them, then literally a month or two ago I heard one of their singles and I was like ‘that’s really good, I really connect with that’. That might have been one of the things that’s drawn me away from doing EDM drops. It’s got that energy without being drops, and snare build ups or whatever. They draw it back, write in a way that has subtle impact. They do it so well. I take a lot of things from them."
What’s the plan for the rest of 2016?
"We’ve just confirmed Reading & Leeds Festival which is wicked. That’s going to be really exciting, a lot of planning will go towards that. The schedule for releasing is chaos! I have so much material and it’s at the point where I had written the setlist for the Birthdays show and it was all brand new material. Then I realised I hadn’t played anything that people actually knew! We’ve got a video coming out in May for ‘Break Over You’, we’ve basically got a single a month after that. Heading into 2017, I’m preparing for the album. It’s all building up to that."
Draper’s first proper headline show is at Birthdays in London next Friday, 6th May. It’s going to be a very special night, that we can promise you. Tickets are available now from the Live Nation tickets page.