Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Q&A With Jaimee Harris

By Christopher Treacy & Jaimee Harris

Photo Credit: Brandon Aguilar

Jaimee Harris’s career trajectory is pointed skyward as she readies the release of her new album, ‘Boomerang Town,’ scheduled for February 17 on Thirty Tigers. Produced by Mark Hallman, the album is an impressive step forward, showcasing Harris’s knack for storytelling through an arc about breaking free from destructive patterns.

As she explains below, “Missing Someone,’ the first single from the album and the Song of the Week in our current CQ Roundup, is unusually upbeat compared to the other tracks, but an advance listen to ‘Boomerang Town’ showcases its depth of feeling and unabashed emotional sincerity—these are tunes written straight from the heart, detailing the struggles of being stuck in small-town-quicksand.

“Missing Someone” is no less sincere, but it comes on with a sizeable hook and just enough groove to double as an irresistible pop song. Harris sings of having gone off the deep end, and she’s unable to keep up with the responsibilities of her life while she waits for her new lover to return from being away. The track’s exuberant vibe speaks to love’s early phases—you can’t help but be swept off your feet.

Boomerang Town’ also has a video component: Harris has collaborated on videos for every track on the album, adding additional depth and dimension to an already ambitious project. She took time this week to answer some questions about it.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

The production on this track is impeccable – and it straddles the lines between pop and Americana very evenly. Does it sound the way you heard it in your head? I know it morphed, considerably, over time. 

Thank you so much for your kind words! One of the smartest moves I made on this record was letting the producer, Mark Hallman, totally drive. He remains one of the most curious people I know. He’s always seeking out and falling in love with new music, so he brings a modern ear to everything he does. Simultaneously, he has a deep understanding of American folk and roots music. 

Even though the meaning of this song has morphed and deepened with time, I feel like it sonically remains very close to how I heard it in my head as I was writing it. Because there was no independent radio station where I grew up, I gravitated towards 90s country stations. I still love 90s country. In my head, as I was writing this song, I heard Jo Dee Messina’s “I’m Alright.” Some of my all-time favorite 90s country songs are “Independence Day” written by Gretchen Peters; “This Kiss” written by Beth Neilson Chapman, Annie Roboff, and Robin Lerner; “I Think About You” written by Steve Seskin and Don Schiltz, and “Strawberry Wine” written by Matraca Berg. In adulthood, I found myself drawn to the solo work of so many of these writers before I even knew they were behind the songs that I sat down and learned by ear on my guitar as a child. So, I guess I’ve always loved the mashup of Americana and pop!

Is there a joy to be found in missing people? It certainly sounds like it. Maybe a joy to be lucky enough to have people to miss? 

That’s certainly been my experience. Particularly when the person you’re missing misses you just as much as you miss them. I’ve been through several “relationships” that were secret, so I wasn’t able to freely express my feelings to others in my life. When Gauthier came into my life, one of the greatest joys on top of being in an extraordinary relationship with my favorite person on this planet was being able to freely express how I felt about her. 

Was this an obvious choice to be the first single? Is it representative of the album’s overall tone, or is it unusual, juxtaposed against the other songs?

This is by far the most upbeat song on Boomerang Town. I think it’s indicative of where I’d like to go with the next record, although it’s been my experience that some force outside of myself will guide that, so it’s unwise to impose my will. Even though it’s a sonic contrast to the other songs on the record, it absolutely fits thematically. It’s the very last track on the album, but you can also start the record on track ten and end on track nine for a different, equally cohesive listening experience. 

Photo Credit: Barbara FG

I’m curious to know more about making videos for the entire album. You probably know, Blondie pioneered that concept in 1979 with Eat to the Beat. Now, the production part of it is probably a different animal altogether, but that idea about wanting to tell a story, visually, remains the same. Was this your idea, and if so, what brought it on? Has the project taken on a life of its own?

I didn’t know about the Blondie project, so thank you for telling me! A few years ago, I realized in retrospect that all of my merch was designed by musicians. I wasn’t intentional about it then, but I am now. The video process started out similarly and has taken on a life of its own!

I knew that I wanted to work with The Lenz Twinz (from the glam rock band Lord Friday the 13th) for a lyric video because I’m obsessed with Felix’s hand lettering. I also knew the moment I saw the “The World We Used to Know” video by Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabriel that I absolutely had to work with them for “The Fair and Dark Haired Lad.” I knew I also wanted to work with Benjamin Violet (Pelvis Wrestley) again. 

I realized by that point that I’d unintentionally hired all musicians to make the videos. Once I realized that, I decided that I wanted to hire different musicians to make videos for every song on the record. A lot of musicians, particularly songwriters, have a deep understanding of how to tell a story in a short period of time, so they make excellent videos. I hired each of these artists because I love what they do. For each video I gave a tiny bit of direction, but ultimately told them that I hired them because I like their style. The biggest direction I gave was for each artist to make a video that would make them proud in their unique style.

It’s been incredibly inspiring to see what’s come back. Each artist has interpreted each song in their own way. It’s really powerful to see how these songs that came from my imagination can spark others’ imaginations enough to create worlds around them. It makes me feel like I’ve really done my job as a songwriter. 

I love to collaborate with other artists, particularly musicians. Due to COVID, we kept the studio sessions for Boomerang Town pretty small. I love finding ways to shine the light on other artists I love and this video project has given me a means to do just that. It’s filled up my love tank!

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.

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