By Harriet Kaplan
Austin-based soul-pop songstress Tameca Jones is known as a reputable cover artist and now is branching out into music scene with original songs of her very own. Tameca is promoting her new single “Hot and Bothered” from her forthcoming EP, “Naked.” “Hot and Bothered” was produced by Jose Moore (Max Frost). Tameca is already receiving accolades for powerful live performances. She has worked with critically acclaimed artists such as Guy Clark Jr., on the track “Wings” from his new album, “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim,” and stood on stage with various music legends (Patty Griffin, Little Steven and Charlie Sexton). Tameca recently spoke to BOC via e-mail interview to discuss her reputation as being a fixture on the Austin music scene and what that represents for her, working on her new EP and upcoming national tour in support of it.
How did you go from being an artist that covers previously recorded songs to writing your own? What inspired that change in direction?
Tameca: I was always a writer. I started out in an original band and wrote all the melodies and lyrics for it. When my band broke up, I lost people to collaborate with. I am formally trained in writing music. I knew I could write cool stuff if I was provided with chords and production. It took me a long time to understand how music worked — chords and production, etc. In that time, I decided to re-imagine popular songs to stay on the scene while I wrote original tunes by myself. It took a long time for me to write something that was sonically edible–like several years. But right now, I’m nearing the peak of my game. I’ve written more edible songs in the past couple months than I have in the past 5-6 years. All my stubbornness and hard work are paying off.
What can you tell me about the new EP and the songs? Can the public expect more songs like “Hot and Bothered”?
Tameca: The new EP will be called “Naked” because I am “stripping the covers off.” See what I did there? It will have four to five songs. The styles are varied on the EP. My style is fluid and constantly changes. That’s one thing I’m sure my producer hates about me. We can work on a song one way and the next day I could come to him with a completely different song if I’m not feeling what we made. It is frustrating because it is hard for me to be satisfied. As far as what the public can expect, I don’t think “Hot and Bothered” is a poster child for this EP. There is definitely soul, but “Hot and Bothered” is probably one of the only tunes with that throwback vibe. The rest are more contemporary.
How long have you been singer and did the Austin scene influence that?
Tameca: I’ve been a singer in Austin for 11 years. The Austin scene definitely influenced me becoming a professional singer. There was a lack of diversity in the scene, and there still is. I felt I could fill a void by bringing some much needed female soul.
How did you come to work with Gary Clark Jr on one of his tracks?
Tameca: Gary and I have known about each other for a while. We have a mutual musical respect for each other. I went to every one of his shows and he would do the same when he was in town. We tried to work together for so long, but kept missing each other due to Gary’s increasingly hectic schedule. Finally, the planets aligned and we found the right place, right time, and right project to work together.
What was that experience like as emerging artist? What did you take away from working with him in the studio and learning about the recording process and his artistry?
Tameca: It wasn’t anything formal or weird. Gary and I have known each other for a while. Gary has always been…Gary. He’s humble, down-to-earth, super chill. I didn’t really take anything away from the recording process and his artistry. It wasn’t like that really. It was a super chill hang making music with some friends.
How did it feel to be granted an award from Black Fret?
Tameca: Winning that Black Fret grant gave me a breathing room. As an artist, you get suffocated by the expense of living and creating music. It is hard to create, record, and manufacture music when you are worried about feeding your family and paying bills. Black Fret made it possible for me to complete my debut EP. It is the ultimate compliment when someone hands you money because they believe in you and feel you have something valuable to give to the world.
What was it like for you performing on the Austin City Limits Festival?
Tameca: I was born and raised in Austin so playing that festival Austin City Limits festival was a dream come true for me. I spent months preparing for it and rehearsing my band. It was so gratifying to get that love from C3 and get support from my fans. I had a great crowd during my early morning set.
What was it like performing at the 2015 Austin Music Awards alongside artists that are critically acclaimed and known?
Tameca: The 2015 Austin Music Awards was like a Cinderella story. I have never performed with people of that caliber before. Patty Griffin, Little Steven, and Charlie Sexton blew my mind. They were all giants in music and I was this little pea. I held my own though and crushed my performances. It was a beautiful and magical night.
What is next for Tameca and do you plan to tour nationally in support of the new EP?
Tameca: I plan to tour nationally. I’ve never done that so it is kind of a scary, but necessary enterprise. I also want to create and record more music. The songs I will release this March are songs that I wrote several years ago. So, I can’t wait to finally birth them so I can start creating more. I learn new things about my talents every day. These are exciting times.