Chances are that you’ll know the name Jamie Campbell Bower from his acting career. He’s starred in Sweeney Todd and the blockbuster Twilight franchise, and most recently been cast for season four of sci-fi smash Stranger Things. But he’s also an accomplished musician and has played in bands throughout his life, most recently as a frontman of London punks Counterfeit.
The band split up at the end of last year, but now he’s now going solo and releasing music under the name Jamie Bower, with a new sound that sees him experiment with the darker side of things. After his dropping the first two tracks (the Nick Cave-influenced ‘Paralysed’ and cinematic ‘Start The Fire’) at the end of last year, and with work on an album underway, we caught up with Jamie for the latest in our In Conversation series and discussed the new freedom going solo brings, his macabre sound and his Stranger Things casting. Here’s what we learned.
Jamie is enjoying the freedom being a solo artist brings
Having always performed in bands, you’d think it might be intimidating writing and performing solo, but apparently not. “I feel creatively in the best space that I’ve been in for a long time, if ever,” Jamie explains. “I want to be cautious here because I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, well, I’m the lone wolf and I don’t need anyone’, but there is certainly something to be said for just going with your gut and going with intuition.”
He started working on solo music under the name Jamie Bower during the middle of last year, around the time Counterfeit came to an end. “I think the pandemic threw into perspective for a lot of people what they wanted to do, and music and art in general is such a volatile and insecure place to lay your hat,” he says of the band’s ending.
But quitting music was never an option for Jamie. “I’ve always been an artist. I’ve always been the person that’s like: ‘I’m going to go with this hammer and tongs for the rest of my life. I have no real plans or desire to do anything else.’ At the end of Counterfeit, I was like, ‘Okay, well, I’m just going to crack on and do what I love and carry on doing what means the most to me.’”
He’s experimenting with the darker side of his sound
Bubblegum pop this ain’t. It should be obvious from the Ouija board positioned behind him when we talk that Jamie is exploring the darker side of life. “I like macabre stuff,” he says. “I like the idea of mortality. I like the idea of worlds beyond worlds. I really enjoy pushing the limits of the human experience and seeing how far I can go and seeing what else is out there.”
He accepts that his sound may not be for everyone, though. “It’s a tough place for people to get into when you’re like, ‘Listen, I want to make music that feels like I’m in Hell, how do you guys feel about that?’” he laughs.
Jamie would love to make a soundtrack
Jamie has had success both in the on-screen world and as a musician, but would he ever consider seeing his two career’s collide and creating a film soundtrack?
“I would love that. To immerse oneself into a world and into someone’s story and see what creatively comes out of that would just be such a joy,” he enthuses.
As for the genre, would it carry on with the dark theme of his current musical project? “I can write very happy, beautiful country music songs so I could always do a country movie; but I think it would have to be tragically romantic and tragically dark” he says. “Horror is also something that I’m fascinated by, and I’ve been watching so many horror movies during this time of lockdown and during the pandemic, I’m certainly in a space right now where I could attack that with some vigour.”
Jamie still can’t believe he’s going to be in Stranger Things – and his work on the show has begun
In November of last year Netflix announced that Jamie would be one of the new actors joining the Stranger Things family, but it turns out he was sitting on the secret for almost a year.
“I think I was told about it in January of last year, and I had to keep it under wraps for so long. I’m still to this day humbled and blown away by the fact that I’ve been allowed this opportunity to be in a show that is fucking amazing” he says.
He’s started work already, but his lips are sealed as to any plot details. “I still have those ‘pinch me’ moments. I’ve done some work already, and just being there is a real experience. There’s just something really magical and really special about working on that job.”
He’s over the disappointment of cancelled Game Of Thrones prequel Bloodmoon and said he learnt from the experience
Back in 2018 HBO commissioned a pilot of Bloodmoon, a prequel series to Game of Thrones in which Jamie was cast as a series regular; but at the end of 2019 it was announced that HBO had decided not to move forward with the show.
The experience is one that’s taught him to be cautiously optimistic about future roles. “That’s the nature of the entertainment industry. Nothing’s real until it’s real. I’ve experienced people getting so excited for things that I’m doing, and I’m like, Yeah, sure – but until it’s happening, it’s not happening.’ I take that with me wherever I go. There’s certainly been some lessons that I’ve learned along the way in life that have led to a place where I’m sort of calmly, quietly reserved – yet happy.”