Jamie T – An advocate for mental health through music

It is important that artists face not only positive appraisal but criticism to help shape them as an artist. I feel it is important for artists nowadays to be honest in their lyrics and performance style, as this encourages consumers to trust them.

It is evident that some parts of society may not be as welcoming of Jamie Treays’ mental health conditions – which is reflective of society as a whole, the general British public find it difficult to talk about these difficult topics, with organisations like Time To Change and Mind, who encourage people to speak openly about mental health. It is artists like Jamie T who are advocates for these organisations and help and encourage people to speak about difficult issues.

In an interview in 2016 Treays revealed he has received a lot of letters from people suffering from anxiety who found solace in a shared experience, “It’s hard when you’re afflicted with a disorder of some type, and it can be kind of debilitating.

I’m glad that it made some people feel a bit better

The first time I heard Jamie T, I was in the canteen at Sixth Form College, ‘Zombie’ was playing through the speakers; the unusual lyrics and fast tempo intrigued me from the outset, “‘Cos I’m a sad sad post-teen, could have been a love machine, no dream, come clean walking like a zombie..”  Treays was speaking the lyrics rather than singing them – as if telling a story.

Originally from Wimbledon, London, Treays was privately educated however, suffered severely with anxiety and panic attacks throughout the entirety of his early life – ultimately leading to his first album ‘Panic Prevention’ (2007). What struck me about the indie, alternative, post-punk eclectic sound was Treays’ unusual yet relatable lyrics – these were intriguing, and made me want to listen to more; I started with his first album ‘Panic Prevention’, with iconic tracks like ‘Sheila’, ‘If You Got The Money’ and ‘Ike and Tina’.

Jamie T
Jamie T Performing © 2015 Laurent Besson, All rights reserved

In Treays’ own words, this was the point in his life where his anxiety hit its peak, he felt that songwriting and performing was his only escapism. In an interview with FaceCulture in 2016, said: “performing took my mind off it – dare I say it was therapeutic”. In a one-off intimate performance in 2015, Treays performed new material, “We’re going to be playing some weird stuff, like ‘Lonely Bastard’. I don’t remember writing this, but it says I wrote it six years ago and I must have been pretty depressed at the time.”

Treays has had his fair share of criticism throughout his career – with critics not appreciating his quirky performance style and revealing lyrics, in an interview with The Guardian in 2016 Treays stated “People were a bit iffy about it – I continued to speak about it on other records and things and people tended to be like:  ‘What, you still going through that?’

People get weirded out by it. But it seemed natural to me to talk about it.

However, it is Treays’ reckless attitude, ‘I do whatever I want, I’m not watching anyone else, I’m not trying to fit into any box’ that shows he takes no notice of criticism and makes music for himself. This is a huge selling point for him, and why I particularly like him. In 2018, Treays released an album of B-Sides from the past 10 years of his music career. This was accidentally leaked by a friend of Treays’ from university – a situation in which Treays was able to laugh about, through a statement on Twitter, “that was how we celebrated the fact that Joe went to university!!”

It is unknown what Treays’ new album will sound like – he is no stranger to the personal touch, so that is a given, but the sound has changed with each album and since his last album in 2016, Treays may have adopted a new sound or experienced something that may shape his writing – the wait will definitely be worth it.

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