Meet The Inspiration: Jamie McDell
New Zealand's very own Country/Americana singer who, classically, looks like she's just come from the most tropical of coasts, with beach blonde hair and sun-kissed skin (although to be honest she probably has).
And true to New Zealand culture, she embodies a genuine and humble temperament that is not only reflected in her persona but in her music.
We were lucky to sit down with Jamie and pick her brains about everything coastal, musical and travel-worthy.
COOLA: We love what we've heard of your new music! Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired your latest album?
Jamie: Thank you! I was really looking to find my way back to the headspace I was in when I first began writing music. I signed my first record deal at the age of 16, back then I was of course very green to the industry but I also had a real confidence in what I could do.
I booked a trip to Nashville in early 2017 to re-connect with the music I grew up listening to, I think being in that environment around creative people helped me, literally, find my rhythm and inspired a bunch of new songs.
COOLA: Do you have a favourite song on the album?
Jamie: No favourite but there is a track that stuck out to me as most meaningful with its raw honesty - it's the album title track 'Extraordinary Girl'. I wrote it to empower a friend dealing with a tough relationship.
COOLA: Tell us a bit more about the process of writing songs, music and creating an album! Was there a standout favourite memory for you?
Jamie: The writing process for me is relatively simple, I like writing alone and quite quickly! Usually, if a song is taking me more than half an hour to get out I'll get bored of it.
A real incredible experience this time around was getting to record in Nashville with a bunch of really established musicians. It was a little intimidating at first but I soon felt comfortable in the leadership role and most importantly had a great time playing the music.
COOLA: What have been some of the biggest challenges for you?
Jamie: I think finding a balance in the creative and business side of the music industry. I love being involved in all parts of the process but it's important that the music comes first, so asking for help and finding the right people to work on a project is sometimes challenging for me!
COOLA: What would we find in your beach bag?
Jamie: Well firstly my surfboard, although I'm not sure I could fit that in my beach bag?! My Kodak camera, a few apricots, sunnies, my beach boys hat, and my favourite Coola Sunscreens - I usually have on me, an SPF50 Mineral Stick (it's really effective protection when surfing) plus Citrus Mimosa Mineral Sunscreen!
COOLA: Where can we find you on the weekends?
Jamie: I try to get to where the surf is! I have family & friends in both Mangawhai and the Coromandel so I share my time between those spots unless I've got shows on!
COOLA: What is your number one beach essential?
Jamie: Sunscreen! I'm not kidding, I love getting out on the water and have spent many years lifeguarding so realise the harmful impact too much sun exposure can have It's very important to me to stay protected while doing the things I love!
COOLA: What are your plans for 2018?
Jamie: I have an album to release in May and a New Zealand/Aus Tour. I'm also hoping to get back to Nashville and play some shows later in the year. It's going to be a busy one!
COOLA: Most unforgettable travel destination?
Jamie: Greece/Turkey (The Meditteranean). I spent years of my childhood growing up aboard a yacht there, a pretty unforgettable experience and a huge part of who I am today!
COOLA: Where is next on your travel list?
Jamie: I'd love to visit Austria, I have some family there and have recently learnt to ski so I'd like to try out my skills over there!
Jamie's full album Extraordinary Girl will be released on 4th May 2018, but you can listen to her latest single from the album 'Tori' along with a few (incredible might we say) bonus tracks.