Jamie Alonge is an alt-pop voice from Los Angeles who races out of the gate at full speed. He’s come a long way from single-digit years affixed to outlaw country and breakdance culture. Raised on a steady diet of southern music, classic rock and Motown, he soon took on the wider world. That meant writing and performing all over LA as a front man.
A turn as a Denver business owner gave him a new vantage point, particularly when his childhood best friend, one of his business partners, took his own life. Luckily he experienced a transformative period after meeting Aaron Running-Hawk, an Oglala Lakota Sioux. Running-Hawk opened up the worlds of peyote and sweat-lodge ceremonies in Colorado and South Dakota for him. Interactions with the Dalai Lama and a world champion martial artist also left their mark.
So when Alonge returned home, he converted his garage into a studio, and began a daily songwriting practice. He focuses on flow — not overthinking things — and tries to bring an idea to the point of completion as quickly as possible. He experienced an explosion of creativity, which is plain as day when listening to “Unfinished Business.”
This song has EDM elements creeping in, plenty of pop crispness, and is laid out with wistful bluesy interjections. The production is more mainstream than classic rock, more party than ashram, and contains a delightful mix of creativity and straight-ahead hit sauce. I need to hear this while driving to work in the morning!
Listen to "Unfinished Business" by Jamie Alonge here and get to know more about him in our interview below!
What do you do to prepare yourself for inspiration?
I set aside 15 min to 1 hour every single day to create a musical piece. Anything can be used as a jump off point: a sound I record on my phone of a bird chirping, a photo, or the very first sound I dial up on my synth. My philosophy is quantity over quality for these sessions. I'm not focused at all on whether what I create is "good" or not. It's about just letting anything pour out. My only requirements are that each piece contains a beginning, middle and end. This way I don't get stuck in "loop-itis." At the end of the week I listen back to everything and decide what I'd like to take forward to a finished song.
And how do you make sure you’re translating the ideas in your head into reality just the way you first heard them?
I don't. I feel that is virtually impossible to do and you can waste so much time trying to do so. You can spend hours or days on just trying to find a perfect snare drum sound. This takes you out of your joy and flow, and can cause you to ruin a song and lose the original vibe that inspired you in the first place. When I have an idea in my head that I want to capture, instead of asking myself, "Is this right or good or perfect?", I ask myself, "Does it work?" This is a binary question that gives me a quick yes or no answer enabling me move on, and waste less time striving for perfection. This detachment style of writing and production has changed my life and left me stress-free and creating more songs instead of the controlling, perfectionism school of thought that tends to have limited amounts of finished songs.
How do you know when a song is finished?
I use another unorthodox technique of "listening as a fan" instead of listening as the creator. When listening back to my song, I first get into a different headspace. I clear my mind and pretend that I'm the biggest fan of Jamie Alonge. It's weird, but this totally detaches me from all the details that I was consumed in as I was creating the song. This is vital because as the creator/producer there will always be things that need tweaking and once again, you can get lost in these tweaks and actually ruin the song and waste days and weeks over things that no one but yourself will ever know.
So I take on the mindset of the fan by clearing my mind and pretending that I'm someone else. At the end of listening only once, I write down all the things that jumped out at me that could use adjustments. I prioritize the adjustments that make the biggest impact on the listener and go about fixing things until, "It works" not, "is it perfect?" I then listen again as the "fan" and repeat this process of writing down what jumps out at me and fixing it. After a few rounds of this, nothing jumps out at me as the "fan" and the song is finished. It's a process of letting go rather than control.
What was the inspiration for “Unfinished Business”?
The first line popped into my head, "I've got Unfinished Business, coming to settle the score." Around December 2017, I had taken a step back from performing live to build a home studio in my garage and jump into learning production as well as this unorthodox style of thinking about bulk songwriting. I found a producer coach that had to break me down to build me back up. I was very much the old way of thinking about songwriting: over-analytical, waiting for inspiration to strike and just writing on guitar only. Once I started going through this new process of approaching production and writing, it gave me a fire in my belly to come back stronger and finally be a prolific songwriter that can showcase multiple influences. I hope it inspires other to handle their unfinished business, as well all have some.
Favorite lyric from "Unfinished Business"? Why?
"I gotta go through the process, now I'm causing a scene. I'm cuttin' all of my losses, you won't even recognize me." I'm a new person, a new artist. I've literally transformed every aspect of the way I write and think about writing. I went from acoustic singer-songwriter "coffee shop" style to an alternative rock-soul / digital vibe. I went from over-thinking to detachment. I went from writing 5-10 songs per year to 50 songs a year.
What do you do to make sure the city doesn’t distract you from your artistic goals?
I'm born and raised here. I grew up in Fox Hills near LAX, then Granada Hills in the valley. I went to college in Valencia. I've lived in Santa Monica, NoHo, WeHo, Los Feliz, South Pasadena and now Glassell Park/Mount Washington. L.A. doesn't distract me because I know what it is and isn't, better than most. I think the biggest distractions of the day are cell phones, social media and television. I employ a technique of only checking my cell phone/socials 1-3 times per day. Also, I do it AFTER my morning routines of practicing Qigong and writing music. It's very important to take advantage of your brain power and use it for creation BEFORE you get sucked into those things. They will fatigue you.
Who are a few of your musical influences who have help share your career in the music industry?
My early influences were a mixture of outlaw-country like Charlie Daniels and David Allen Coe as well as old school rap. My step dad had me singing and playing the country and folk music with him at night, while I was break dancing with my friends during the day. Because of this there's always an element of that rootsy soul to my singing mixed with a funky groove of some sort. I'm inspired by producer artists like Dr. Dre, Pharrell, Will.i.am and The Black Keys as well as funky, soulful 90's Alt-Rock like Incubus, RHCP, Sublime and Rage. I don't listen to a lot of current music. I've always tended to be inspired by the classics because of the substance and meaning behind the songs.
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