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Jaime Wyatt plays songs from 'Feel Good' in The Current studio

Jamie Wyatt – two-song performance at The Current The Current
  Play Now [9:49]

by Jill Riley

February 26, 2024

Jaime Wyatt grew up in Washington State, lived for a while in Los Angeles, and now calls Nashville home. But wherever she is, making music remains the constant. “It's just what I do,” Wyatt says. “Just writing songs and singing them has proven to be really healing, whether it works out or not, whether it's lucrative or popular or not. It's just important for me to do that.”

Described by Pitchfork as one of music’s “most exciting and skillful storytellers,” Wyatt writes honest lyrics and delivers them with her powerful voice. Her most recent album, Feel Good, released in November 3, 2023, on New West Records. Produced by Adrian Quesada of Black Pumas, Feel Good is a genre-spanning collection of songs that contain a delicous Americana gumbo of soul, roots music, and R&B.

Before Wyatt had to press pause on her tour due to a case of flu, Wyatt and her band visited The Current studio to play a couple songs from Feel Good, after which Wyatt sat down for a conversation with The Current’s Jill Riley. Listen to the session using the audio player above, and read a transcript of the interview below.

Two people performing in a recording studio
Jaime Wyatt performing in The Current studio on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Trey Binkley is on guitar.
Eric Xu Romani | MPR

Interview Transcript

Edited for time and clarity.

Jill Riley: You're listening to The Current. I'm Jill Riley, joined in the studio by Jaime Wyatt. Jaime, how are you?

Jaime Wyatt: Hey, doing all right. Thanks for having me, Jill.

Jill Riley: Of course, welcome to The Current! In the studio today to perform a couple songs from the new record, which is out, it's called Feel Good. "Where The Damned Only Go," can you tell me just a little bit about that song?

Jaime Wyatt: "Where The Damned Only Go" is real light subject matter! (laughs) I was inspired to write that song, I was watching some sort of series on missing Indigenous women. And I felt like with my life, my journey, I've seen a different side of society than most people have; you know, I've been on the street, I've been incarcerated, so I felt like, you know, that song is for all the forgotten people. And I think in general, especially with incarcerated people, we we want to just like, shove people away and forget about them. Because it's easier, right? Even homeless people, we don't want to see them, right? It's too painful for us, right? And I just wanted to sort of just zoom in on that view a little bit and be like, "What if I embodied all that grief?" You know, families of missing Indigenous women, how would that feel? And I just compared it to my own life experience. But you know, so maybe a meditation on grief and loss, I guess.

Jill Riley: Yeah. Jaime, what I've read about you is that you've been described as a storyteller. And I wonder if we could just kind of start by just getting a little bit of your story and your background for those listening to The Current who don't know your backstory yet. Jamie, where are you from?

Jaime Wyatt: Originally from Washington State, up in the Northwest there. I grew up on a little island in the woods. And I moved out to L.A. when I was in high school, or at the last year of high school, signed a record deal, and been doing that ever since.

Jill Riley: Where did you get the bug for music?

Aerial view of the financial district in the center of a city
Jaime Wyatt found Los Angeles to be supportive of artists.
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Jaime Wyatt: My parents were both musicians; singer songwriters. And so I just grew up around music and making up songs with my parents and going to see shows, rock and roll shows, since I was a kid. Like, I grew up at Grateful Dead shows, or Neil Young, and I saw Bonnie Raitt when I was like four. That was impactful. That definitely, definitely, definitely, like, gave me the bug, I think. Yeah.  Sure. Now, when you got to Los Angeles, that was like right after high school, I mean, what was it like to be in L.A. and pursuing music? I mean, L.A. is a great place. Very supportive of artists in general. So I did get a lot of support. I was kind of by myself a little bit, though, being so young. I had my sister, she had moved down there, and she's an artist, a different kind of artists. But yeah, I was really young to be on that scene. You know, looking back, it all makes sense to me. To go onward with my story, I'm a felon, and I acquired some charges in L.A. due to a drug addiction. I don't know, it could be a number of things. But yes, I was young, and in a scene, and in a big, big town. And L.A. was kind of wild for me but very formative in that it got me into recovery. And it just helped my music to get in recovery; obviously it helped my life. I definitely wouldn't be here had I not gone to jail and gotten sentenced to rehab and stuff, you know? Because what I did was I robbed a drug dealer, and so they knew I had a drug problem. But that's still illegal. So I did the crime, did the time. Definitely a huge turning point in my life.

Jill Riley: I mean, I would imagine that, did you kind of think like, "I don't know if this is gonna happen." Or did you want it even more? And I'm talking about the music.

Jaime Wyatt: Oh, about the music?

Jill Riley: Yeah.

Jaime Wyatt: No, I didn't think it was gonna happen. Not at that point. When I got my first record deal, the music streaming picked up, like file sharing. At that time, record labels didn't know what to do, and an independent record label that I was with did not know what to do. So I kind of thought music was over for everyone. And for me, I was just kind of like, at that point, I was like, "I just would not like to be incarcerated anymore." So whatever it takes to do that, I was like, at that point, I thought, "I'm not really allowed to play music because I did something bad." It took me a long time to get back into it. Yeah, I just felt like I blew it, you know? Also that I didn't feel super easy about going out even, after like being newly clean and and having so much shame.

Jill Riley: Oh, sure. Right.

Jaime Wyatt: And so yeah, it took me a while to get back into it. But you know, it's just what I do. Just writing songs and singing them has proven to be really healing, whether it works out or not, whether it's lucrative or popular or not. It's just important for me to do that.

Jill Riley: Yeah. I'm talking with Jaime Wyatt here on The Current. The record, Felony Blues, came out in 2017. That was followed by Neon Cross. And now your new record, Feel Good.

Jaime Wyatt: Yeah.

Jill Riley: Tell me how it started with the recording. You went to Austin and worked with one of the members of Black Pumas?

Jaime Wyatt: Yeah, yes.

Jill Riley: Talk about that, because it's great.

Jaime Wyatt: Adrian Quesada. It's such a cool marriage of sound for this record, Feel Good. I mean, Adrian comes from Black Pumas, and I would call that more like Neo Soul. And so it was probably a big risk for him to take on this record, being that my like, first two records are pretty rootsy. But he took a chance. And we recorded in Austin at Electric Deluxe Recorders, and got to use some of my touring band as well as some of the guys that play with Black Pumas are on the record, and that was really exciting. And some of the backup singers are on the record, just incredible, incredible singers. So that was a cool experience. I mean, Adrian Quesada is just magic, the way he arranges records. It's arrangements, it's producing, but it's also just the glue. He knew how to glue everything together.

A man adjusts a dial on an analog sound board
Adrian Quesada at Electric Deluxe Recording in Austin, Texas.
courtesy Electric Deluxe

I had a lot of songs that were like written on piano this time, and I have always been a guitar player. So that was a cool way to approach songs. And listening to a lot of like, through the pandemic, I went down the rabbit hole of like rock and roll and Leon Russell, to soul, to getting obsessed with Al Green. I always kind of loved that music, and Otis Redding. But I got real into it in the pandemic while teaching myself piano. Man, that just influenced the sound in a totally different way. To write on different instruments, to collaborate — I also collaborated with musicians.

Jill Riley: Yeah, what did that feel like to have some more collaboration? Did you feel almost a little guarded at first? Or were you kind of ready to kind of open up to that?

Jaime Wyatt: I think I was ready because it was coming out of so much isolation in the pandemic. What I realized is that I like to think of myself as an introvert, but also, there's still this immense energy exchange in a group of musicians that happens that I need. So what I found with this record was I just wanted to hear what other players had to play. And I wanted to hear what their thoughts were. So yeah, it was cool. We were like rehearsing one day, and the bass player just was doing a riff in between songs, and he was like, "Wait, hold up, I want to record this real quick" on his iPhone. And that lick is the bassline for "Feel Good," the title track. And that was cool to see that song, like, birthed. But I think it was really cool. It fits my like ADHD brain the way this album was made. And so I feel like it's very, very true to me, even though there was so many other people involved. It was like a collage. 

A woman smiles and gazes off into the middle distance
'Feel Good' is Jaime Wyatt's third full-length album.
New West Records

Jill Riley: Yeah, totally. The record is called Feel Good. Jaime Wyatt, how does it feel to play these songs on the road?

Jaime Wyatt: It feels good. Yeah, the band's incredible here with me, and, you know, they take on a different life live than they do in the studio. So that's a journey. And that's the exciting part for me is to see where it goes.

Jill Riley: Kind of experience the feedback, too.

Jaime Wyatt: Oh, yeah, absolutely! I do see, you know, like, the other night we were playing "Feel Good," I always kind of look at the crowd, like, are they bored? You know what I mean? Because I'm like, because I'm very ... my attention span is all over the place when I'm at a concert. So I kinda look, are they bored? And I'm like, "Oh, no, they're feeling it, actually," like they're digging this. Like, I think people need to hear it. 

Jill Riley: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing it with us here at The Current. Jaime Wyatt, currently on the road. The record is called Feel Good. And I'm glad you're feeling good.

Jaime Wyatt: Thank you.

Jill Riley: Thanks for sharing it today.

Two women have a conversation in a recording studio
The Current's Jill Riley (L) interviews musician Jaime Wyatt in The Current studio on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024.
Eric Xu Romani | MPR

Songs Performed

00:00:00 Feel Good
00:05:16 Where The Damned Only Go

Both songs from Jaime Wyatt’s 2023 album, Feel Good, available on New West Records.


Jaime Wyatt – lead vocals, keys
Trey Binkley – guitar
Ian Francis – drums
Mikkel Heimburger – bass


Guest – Jaime Wyatt
Host – Jill Riley
Producer – Derrick Stevens
Technical Director – Eric Xu Romani
Graphics – Natalia Toledo
Digital Producer – Luke Taylor

Jaime Wyatt – official site