|| The name Jamie Jo has a provocative, sexy sound to it – and that sound comes to you on a wave of electro. Sporting a seductive melody and chorus, pulsing beats, and sparkling ripples of synth, Jamie Jo’s debut single, “U Turn Me On,” is pop confection at its tastiest. It also features an instantly recognizable guest star - the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, who lent his talents and inimitable voice.
Capable of scorching up the dance floor, house party, and iPod alike, Jamie Jo’s upcoming full-length album, In Violet (Oden Media), entails a lip-glossed kiss to lovers of catchy modern electro in the vein of Kylie Minogue and Goldfrapp, with a blistering edge. It’s an album and sound inspired by globetrotting nights spent in the world’s most trendsetting music venues, from Lenny Kravitz’s The Florida Room in Miami to Europe’s Crystal’s to New York City’s Don Hill’s.
“There’s something special about electro, the sound,” Jamie Jo shares. “I think that it really touches your senses. And I want to portray and bring people a sultry, sexy feeling through my music.”
Jamie Jo was fortunate to be surrounded by superb pop tunes from childhood. Literally, in fact. Her parents were friends with a number of prolific musicians, including the Bee Gees and Frank Sinatra.
Jamie Jo explored and immersed herself in many creative fields throughout her youth, traveling at length in the process. At age seventeen she embarked overseas for a rigorous European art tour of the masters. Back home in the States, she was exposed to contemporary American art gurus and figureheads. Jamie Jo recalls how, one day after school, her mother took her to meet and model for Andy Warhol’s famed portrait photographer, Christopher Makos (the resulting photo, a life-sized portrait sectioned into fourths, was part of a magazine assignment).
She went on to study photography at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and majored in Art History at the University of Miami.
She also followed her parents’ example in philanthropic, altruistic endeavors. Jamie Jo received a "Young Leadership Award" from the Prime Minister of Israel for scholarships she raised for Israeli children in need, and served as President of the Young Society for Juvenile Diabetes at the Diabetes Research Institute at University of Miami, while she regularly puts in appearances at Miami-area benefits, charity balls, dinners, and events.
Yet, artistically, it was clear from early on that music was the creative path she was destined and determined to walk. In 1996, she slipped some songs to family friend Barry Gibb and started working with seasoned producer/studio engineer/musician, John Merchant. One of those early tunes was employed as a commercial jingle for major Florida department store chain, Burdines.
Jamie Jo cites American icons Madonna, Elvis Presley, Janet & Michael Jackson, and Prince as early favorites, while UK acts Portishead and Everything But the Girl dominated her teens and, later, influenced her songwriting. So did Miami Beach itself: sanguine moments on the beach, in nightclubs, and with friends, family and romantic partners.
“I like to tell stories, but small stories,” she says. “Each song is about moments. So I usually look at things moment to moment.”
Moments - steamy, intense, and ambrosial – make up In Violet’s crop of 13 songs. And while electro is the dominant genre, it’s a sonically diverse assortment. “One thing I love about In Violet is its songs don’t all sound the same,” Jamie Jo explains. “You stay really interested all the way through. Some are electro-pop and dance-oriented, one has an island-y flavor. A really beautiful combination and a lot of wonderful imagery.”
The title track and album’s name, In Violet, entails a play on the term inviolate, she explains. “Inviolate means without being blemished, something pure. And I think violet is a beautiful color and portrays light and rays of light. There’s something transcendent about it.”
The upbeat “U Turn Me On” is simply about dancing with an amazing partner, while the more poignant “So Close” is about being close yet so far away from a goal or person you desire. On the flipside, “Believe” is about drifting away from someone after enduring a difficult time together. “If you’re a guy listening to it and have to get out of a rough spot with a girl it shows you how to do it,” she laughs.
The sensual, Astrud Gilberto-inspired “Boy You Got Me” is “about lust,” Jamie Jo reveals. “Waking up on the beach next to that special person, looking into their eyes and enjoying them.”
Yet one of the album’s hottest tracks is no doubt a cover of Alannah Myles’ hit, “Black Velvet,” here completely reinvented as an urban, arms in the air booty-shaking anthem guaranteed to cause seismic waves in nightclubs.
In Violet’s team of producers, collaborators and contributors – including Damon Elliot (Destiny's Child), Dillon O'Brian (Bonnie Raitt, Shakira), and Bobby Robinson (Jennifer Lopez, Lindsay Lohan) – helped bring the album a sonic versatility that ultimately makes its tracks a brilliant fit for every situation and setting, from the nightclub to lounge to living room to Jacuzzi.
In Violet’s tracks would certainly shine in a runway show setting (especially the hip, groove-infused “Down Deep”). Apropos, considering Jamie Jo’s love and association with fashion’s movers and shakers. She counts Luca Luca, Cavalli, and numerous London designers amongst her favorites and friends. “Luca Luca is an amazing designer, so demure,” she grins. “And how can you not love Cavalli? Everything he makes is cut for a woman to look gorgeous.”
You can see Jamie Jo working some of the above designers’ garments on her website, www.jamiejo.com, while her own designer aspirations will soon see fruition with a gorgeous, namesake line of candles (some with a “velvet” theme), jewelry, and jeans. In keeping with her altruistic efforts, proceeds from some of these items will go to charities and organizations.
Meanwhile, Jamie Jo wants you to get in violet, and you can wear whatever you like while it’s on. With the ripples of lush, sexy electro it comes with, that could mean nothing - which is certainly fine with her. “I like that!” she laughs. “I like being able to put on a CD in different settings. Something you can go out to and hear in a club or stay home and listen to in the bath.”