Singled Out: Jamie-Lee Dimes' Release Me
Australian singer-songwriter Jamie-Lee Dimes recently released her new single "Release Me" and to celebrate we asked her to tell us about the track. Here is the story:
WRITING: "Release Me" is a song I wrote in 2017 while living in Brooklyn, New York, just after the 2016 elections. It was the first song where I wrote the lyrics start-to-finish in under ten minutes. It was a cathartic release and I learnt a lot about myself, my lineage, and the society I'm part of through writing this song.
At the time the song was born, there was a lot of talk in the media about "building the wall" and dehumanizing legislations being passed in response to immigration. Racism was on the rise, there were riots, marches, and mass shootings - it was insane. The media and society were showcasing a fear of any culture that wasn't white, fueling and cementing the systemic racism that already runs deep. It was a crazy time to be in America. As someone who has moved countries from early childhood and has seen firsthand the different perspectives of having a mother who is European and father who is European indigenous, I always saw the ripple effects of systemic racism and discrimination in my own life. Growing up in a very conservative part of Australia where racism is a very big issue, I never really questioned much around me. I just internally knew something was off... but thought it was me.
Living in New York City during all the political unrest influenced me to start educating myself. I had been to a dinner earlier that month where I was being candid with my friend who is a well-known political activist and organizer. She broke my emotions down for me pretty clearly and explained the larger issues at hand. You could say that I had delayed anger toward colonization and genocide and saw how my own life and half of my lineage was affected by these issues. With what was going on in America, I could clearly see the class system for what it was: designed to keep any one of color at the bottom, including one side of my family. After writing this song, for the first time in my life, I felt proud to be completely who I am and felt this void leave my body just by acknowledging this side of my life.
RECORDING: The day I was heading to the studio to rerecord "Release Me," I got the email invitation to play SXSW music festival. It gave me a renewed sense of energy since I had seen so many obstacles in recording - going through many recording phases and having the track go through many different hands - until I started working with singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Tim Maxwell.
I recorded "Release Me" with Tim at Restless Noise Studios. He took my emotional piano ballad and helped me find the pulse, moving the song foundation to an acoustic guitar. I wanted the drums to be tribal, so we improvised in the studio and kept it all pretty minimal with Tim layering the guitars and adding a capo to add the lightness that was needed for the direction to be impactful. Tim and I both sang the chorus to give it a choir church effect and I played the piano.
Tim is pretty great at picking a good harmony and getting me out of my comfort zone. The whole song start-to-finish was recorded in four and a half hours. After the session, Tim urged me to release it. I never would have, because personally it felt too revealing, but I'm glad I did.
FILM: For the video, I worked with an amazing Australian American film director called Tori Styles who co-founded Wild Rose Media. I wanted to work with a talented woman who was connected to my inner circle and had worked with people I was working with. As the world knows, Australia has been in a bushfire crisis. It's devastating. My flight down to film and record got canceled and I couldn't fly for three days because the smoke was so bad. It felt very relevant to capture the essence and beauty of Australia in this music video, and I felt the song and lyrics were a conversation Australia and New Zealand needed to have.
We went to the director's hometown of Mount Macedon, Country Victoria about an hour from Melbourne city. I am a big fan of symbolism, so I was thinking about the meaning and depth of the song and how I could subtly communicate that, but I also wanted this song's meaning to be up for interpretation.
I worked with Melbourne designer Mia Sully and jewelry designer Sacreflux to draw inspiration from the famous film Picnic at Hanging Rock. We even went to hanging rock and used the film as a reference for some of the storyline.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below:
Singled Out: Jamie-Lee Dimes' Release Me