Its tough leaving a successful band at the best of times, but when that band happens to be Hepburn - a band who managed to bridge commercial pop and rock music together and retain a degree of credibility - you see the real problem that Jamie Benson faced. Hepburn were a band she loved, but at the end of the day the desire to get into a studio and sing her own songs won through and as the band were prepared to ink another contract she left the band.
Her debut album "My Confession" sees her collaborating and writing with a number of musicians such as Steven Wolf and Jack Daley (from Lenny Kravitzí band), Bryan Adams, Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles) and Billy Mann who writes most of Anastacia's hit singles.
We caught up with Jamie to discuss the new double A-sided single featuring a cover of the Lisa Lob classic "Stay" and to find out what it was like recording the album in New York following the aftermath of September 11th.
Q: Your new single "Stay", a cover of the Lisa Loeb track. I believe there were a couple of contenders on the table. Why did you go with the track particularly?
A: I chose the track because I was already a huge fan of Lisa Loeb and Susanne Vega. Just quirky artists who are a bit mad really. Initially it was just going to an album track because I was asked by the record company if I wanted to do a cover for the album and I said I'd like to cover "Stay". Then I did a university tour round the country and the response people were giving me for "Stay" I thought it would be silly not to release it as a single.
It actually part of a double A-side. Whereas "Stay" is the ballad, "When The Sun Hits The Sky" is more uptempo and a real summer tune.
Q: The "My Confession" album is out on the 10th of June and its got something for everyone without compromising your vision in any way. Its got the really rocky tracks and a few slow dance ballads in there. Tell us more about this amazing list of writers you've worked with?
A: I have been extremely lucky to have worked with the people I have on the album. I started recording my album in America last year and I had already written a couple of songs myself. Then Phil Thornelli, who wrote the stuff for Hepburn, wrote a couple of tracks for me. So I was out there recording about four tracks and then all of a sudden because the producers I was working with were obviously Lenny Kravitz' band...they started getting sent these songs to see if I was interested in recording them.
It just happened from there really and I was lucky enough to record a song by Susanna Hoffs and Billy Mann so I was extremely lucky. But its one of the tracks I wrote myself is probably the heaviest on the album. There's a mixture of stuff on there and i've tried to do something for everybody.
Q: When you finished recording the album it was about 3 days after the September 11th tragedy. That must have been a strange atmosphere in the studio?
A: All I wanted to do was come home and be with my family and stuff, but we couldn't come home even if we wanted to because flights weren't running. There was one track left to complete my album, so I went in three days after it all happened, literally laid it down in an hour and came out and was like i'm not in a working mood. It was a terrible time. I was working with American's and they soldiered on so I had to be strong as well.
Q: If we could just go back to Hepburn for a moment. Writing was the one main reason you left the band. Would you like to expand on that?
A: I wasn't having that much input because its difficult when there is four of you in the band and it was Sony and our management that were saying do this song or do that song. We never had a say on anything that was going on and that was my reason for leaving the band because I wanted to do what I love doing best...and that is writing music and recording a tune that I love to do. Not saying I didn't like the material Hepburn did because I'm a great fan of guitar based music. But now I'm being allowed to do what I want to do so it makes me much happier.
All of my life i've always had one dream to be a solo artist and to be up there on my own. The band Hepburn was a great experience for me, but when our contract ended with Sony we all had a meeting to decide what to do. Obviously there were other companies interested in signing us as a band but if you go through that whole process of signing as a band there would be no point as I would be unhappy. I felt that that was the time to say goodbye.
We never left on bad terms but because I've been so focused on my solo career and going backwards and forwards to America we haven't really been in contact. But I wish them the best of luck in whatever they do and I hope they wish me the best of luck as well.
Q: You've got the live shows coming up with Ronan Keating next month. How do you think Ronan fans are going to react to you because they're not known for there adventurous music tastes?
A: I'm busy rehearsing for that at the moment and it kicks of on the 10th June, the same day the album comes out. Its something I'm really looking forward to because I've never really done an arena tour...I know I'm only a support act and I know everybody has paid to see Ronan. But its still a great thing to do because Ronan has chosen me as the only support and he's letting me do it completely live, rather than a playback, and that's the one thing I wanted to do.
The majority of the audience are going to be women and I've got a male band behind me so that will probably help me. But I'll just go out there and if they like me they like me.
"Stay" / "When The Sun Hits The Sky" is out now
The album "My Confession" follows on June 10th
For more info
Post your own Jamie Benson reviews / comments on our Message Board