At some point in our lives most of us do it, we take the plunge and move somewhere new, we become strangers in a strange land, we embrace a new place, and hope it embraces us back. That’s exactly what Jamie Lockhart, the songwriter at the heart of Mi Mye, did when he left his childhood home on the North Coast of Scotland and moved to the glittering lights of Wakefield.
Wakefield might not be the most fashionable city, it doesn’t have the established scene of Leeds or Sheffield, yet to Jamie it became home, a place to make music, put on shows and build a new life.
Although ostensibly a medium for the songwriting of Jamie, the once revolving cast of musicians who play in Mi Mye has now stumbled onto a settled five-piece line-up. Jamie is joined by Rob, Emily, Chad and Morgan; between them members of The Spills, Crake and Buen Chico. Later this month Mi Mye are set to release their fifth, and quite possibly best, studio album to date, The Mountain forces the Future, and the Force causes the Rain.
Although now a firmly established Wakefield resident, his previous home in Scotland has always been a presence in Jamie’s music, and not just in his unmistakably Scottish accent. For, The Mountain forces the Future, and the Force causes the Rain, it was two particular landmarks that inspired it, ‘Ben Loyal’ and ‘Ben Hope’, mountains located close to the crofting hamlet he called home, Skerray. Despite the personal nature of the album title, a unifying factor in all of Jamie’s work has always been his ability to be the observer. Many of the tracks here detail stories he’s picked up from strangers, whether it’s a bus passenger who saw someone die that morning, or, in the case of Your Left Side, a man who’s stroke prevents him from dancing with the one he loves. The first single lifted from the record, Your Left Side is a particularly stunning moment, Jamie tapping into the array of emotions the story stirred in him; whether detailing the shape of the man’s face, or recalling the poignancy, and undeniable love, this man so clearly possesses. Perhaps ultimately the track is, more than anything, about the fragility of human existence; Jamie recalls falling down near Leeds Bus Station and for a fleeting moment wondering if he too would ever be able to dance with the one he loves, only to be picked up by the group of men who always hang out there, previously terrifying Jamie, and now restoring his faith in human nature with their kindness.
There’s wonderful lyrical flourishes throughout The Mountain forces the Future, and the Force causes the Rain, and thankfully the music is equally strong. There’s the dramatic swooping melodies of Hay Powerfool Leader, the intricate layering of Opening Line, the gorgeous fuzz of OK So, with its stunningly emotive opening line, “the best thing you can do right now is leave”. A personal favourite though, is On A Beach, perhaps the most Mi Mye they have ever sounded; a beautifully simple recollection of youthful memories, watching Oyster Catchers swoop and dive on the Scottish coast, set to a backing of rich piano chords and twinkling keyboards. Ultimately, The Mountain forces the Future, and the Force causes the Rain is a beautifully crafted record, an album that feels like it was made for a simple love of songwriting and feels intimate and important as a result, it’s simply the best Mi Mye record yet, and that’s high praise indeed.
Today Jamie has put together a mixtape that features some of his favourite Wakefield acts, it serves as something of a memoir of, “arriving in a city as an outsider and being welcomed into the scene”. Featuring the likes of The Research, The Cribs and Buen Chico, each track links to a band in Wakefield and a way they’ve helped, or have been helped by, Jamie.
1. The Research – I Think She’s the One I Love
The Research were the last band I know to sign a record deal, like a big one with an office in London. They then went on tour for years and took me as their sound guy. I loved it. Emily my true love always laughs that I have so many stories and happy memories about my time with these people but when we see them now they have no memory of it at all, she thinks it’s so funny.
2. The Piskie Sits – Cold Heart
The Piskie Sits are like the national service for Wakefield bands, everyone has been in them, but everyone has been in them because they are amazing. Craig the singer is one of the greatest song writers of all time.
3. Runaround Kids – Blush
Runaround Kids holds a big place in my heart. When I re-met Emily (my true love) she was moving to New Zealand, and my friend John lent me £1,000 so I could book a flight to go and see her. All my Wakefield friends played a fund raiser show to help me with spending money cash when I was there. Emily had a job in the city of Wellington so I would sit in a square and wait for her to finish work, and I would listen to Runaround Kids.
4. The Old House – Loud Noises
The Old House is a band I was in for a while, they were great. Craig (Old House Craig not Piskie Sits Craig) and Paul the song writers were totally great. They met and formed the band when they worked at MacDonalds. I was first introduced to them by the dudes from The Cribs. I loved the band and later got to play drums for them.
5. Imp – Call of the Wild
Imp were just the coolest of all bands.
6. The Spills- Crash-landed Clouds
I met The Spills when they were kids, they loved The Old House that by this time I was playing drums for. Rob, one of the singers joint Mi Mye pretty quickly on guitar and after a few months we realised he could really play the drums, so now he played drums with us. Chad the other singer from The Spills was the best skateboarder we met, he also joined Mi Mye, first on bass and now he plays guitar. This Spills track is one of my favourite ones, also it is one of Chads least favourite.
7. Buen Chico – Baptized
Buen Chico like me are not from Wakefield but have been welcomed into the scene, they say the city consumes us. Morgan the singer and guitarist stood in for a Mi Mye show a few years ago and then we could never let him leave because he’s so ace. This track is one of my all time favourite songs, a song about dancing and forgetting the week and sweating.
8. Pylon – Says Al
Pylon are the furthest back my time in this city takes me. Over the years after I’ve become very close to them, and Rob who played keys for them makes lots of Mi Mye’s videos now, and Chris the singer was in Mi Mye just before we got Morgan. When Pylon were super active I was around in a slightly different scene, a bit more arts school noise bands but I loved seeing Pylon. They ran great gigs with bands from all over the world. They always had a raffle that everyone else seemed to love but I hated, I didn’t want to buy a raffle ticket.
9. The Cribs – Be Safe
The story is that I booked the first Cribs show. I didn’t, I’m sorry, but my old flat mate Mike did and I was around. I lent them a floor tom and saw a bit of their set, but I was doing sound for a stage in a different room on a weekender festival at McDermots (a great skuzzy old Wakefield venue). I totally love The Cribs and the day I first heard this track I could not have been more proud to know anyone.
10. Little Japanese Toy – Deaf Through Persistence
This was my first Wakefield band. None of use were from Wakey, but this band that was formed with James from Napolion iiird was what introduced me to the Wakefield scene, to putting on show and going to other band shows and meeting everyone.
The Mountain forces the Future, and the Force causes the Rain is out September 28th via Coble Records. Click HERE for more information on Mi Mye.