Jamie Timony: Creativity, Comedy and Staying Centred
Annabel Blue Life under the spotlight with Jamie Timony.
Jamie Timony has always been one to have his feet planted on a stage, with a spotlight firmly cast upon him. From a young age, his affinity to music and strong connection to theatre shaped his creative trajectory into who and what we see Jamie as today. Being the frontman of These New South Whales (TNSW) and as a performer in his dreamy solo project MOSSY, Jamie has navigated the comedic and emotional realms of creativity, dancing the fine line between the two as he moves forth through his dynamic career path. Catching up with Jamie, we spoke together on the latest in his world; from being the co-host of his positively received podcast ‘What a Great Punk’, his future shows to his forthcoming MOSSY album, and most importantly, what gets him up in the morning and how he transcends beyond the noise— and into stillness.
Hey Jamie! So I wanted to start off by talking about where it all started with your relationship to cinema and music. When did you get started in acting and was music the natural progression?
When I was 12 I got a small part in my school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, which was my favourite movie at the time. I loved that experience and it spurred me on to pursue theatre through my teens. I went to acting school when I finished high school but dropped out when I got cast in a kids’ television series called H2O: Just Add Water. The acting stuff kind of just continued on from there. I always had a real affinity for music, loved it from a very early age and started learning the keyboard. I’m not sure if music was a natural progression from acting, but I think a good movie and a good song do very similar things to me, so I have always been interested in both.
I also wanted to touch on your life in cinema and the cross over of your theatrical and musical worlds. With These New South Whales, you have started a show that basically mocks the punk scene at large, yet you manage to twist it to make punk sort of ‘endearing’ if I can even use those two words together… How did this all come to fruition? It seems like the perfect hybrid for you with acting and music.
It is! These New South Whales started off as a joke side project and a kind of experiment. We were young and already fed up of playing in bands and taking ourselves so seriously. We craved an outlet where, for better or worse, we could create for creation’s sake without critical judgement or worrying about career or who’s coming to the shows and all that bullshit. I kind of got off (still do to some degree) on embarrassing myself for others’ entertainment. Early on, the quality of the songwriting didn’t matter at all, we used to pride ourselves on clearing rooms. The shows were a lot of fun as a result—a real outlet. We were trolling, and looking back there was probably a dash of self-sabotage in there too. Out of that context spawned the idea to make a mockumentary series. None of us had seen Spinal Tap but it’s quite Spinal Tap esque, only—we’re a real band. There were so many ego-centric traits we noticed mainly in ourselves but also in our peers that we found so desperate, embarrassing, tragic, often endearing and ultimately funny. I should also mention that I love punk music and I feel that our comedy series is taking aim at musicians and artists of any description, not just those in the punk scene. We love the punk scene, in fact one day we hope to be a part of it!
Do you find that this element of comedy comes out when you’re on stage with TNSW or is it strictly during filming that this comes out?
One of my favourite parts of the half an acting degree I did was the clowning component. I allow that aspect of myself to come to the surface when we perform as TNSW. It’s tricky, because we are no longer interested in writing joke songs or clearing floors, and are far more focussed on writing music we would want to listen to. But I am a natural clown and enjoy setting that energy free on the stage. It’s a strange and fun line to dance.
Can you tell me a little about the podcast What a Great Punk you and Todd Andrews (TNSW band member) have started together? I noticed you’ve had on some interesting names… and outlandish themes…!
Yeah, in the last couple of weeks we have had Roger from The Cure, Shame and Phoebe Tonkin on the pod, which has been sick! Todd and I were stoked to be guests on LA pod ‘Yeah, But Still’ with Jack Wagner and Brandon Wardell. That was our first pod and we really enjoyed the experience (we’re both fans of YBS). We sat down when we got back to Oz and thought what does the world really need right now? And it came to us… another podcast by two cis white guys! In all seriousness though, we had seen all the podcast bro memes and really questioned whether we needed to be doing it. And the answer is still probably, no. But Todd and I are very close and love talking to one another and love our friends and community. We also love engaging with our fans, so it was kind of a no-brainer. We feel as though it is adding value so we’ve stuck at it.
What has the feedback been like with the pod and what does the future of the pod hold? I noticed you’ve just done a… live (in real life) pod session?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which has been encouraging and gratifying. We’ve got a solid listenership. I’ve never really been a big podcast guy personally, but I understand that a lot of people put them on and it keeps them company, makes them laugh, gives them a warm feeling. I’ve started listening to more pods recently and I get it. I like providing that service. It’s been good practice for us in letting go as well. We’re very candid on the pod and we hope that people will listen and feel identification with us or our guests and feel inspired or empowered to be themselves. Oh yes, and last Sunday in Sydney we did our first live pod in front of an audience which was an exciting experience. I think we’ll do more. As for the future of the pod, who knows! We’re enjoying it for the moment so will keep at it.
You were playing a fair few shows and festivals with both of your music ventures; MOSSY and TNSW before COVID – are there many we can look out for in the near future?
TNSW just played our first shows back in Melbourne and Sydney in the last few weeks. It was so great to play live again. None of the crew or venue staff were jaded yet which was incredible. Everyone was excited to be back on the job. Melbourne artist Purient (Burning Rose Records) opened for us and she was brilliant. There are no shows booked yet for MOSSY but I’m hoping next year will see to that. There are new MOSSY and TNSW albums dropping next year so I’m sure we will get to tour and play a lot.
Is it correct that you have a new MOSSY record coming out early next year? Can you tell us about the process of making it, the trials, tribulations and breakthroughs, and an idea of what we can expect to hear?
Yes. Early next year I will start releasing material from the debut MOSSY album. It was recorded in Melbourne over about a two year period in the studio with producer Dean Tuza. Dean pushed me super hard and out of my comfort zone with this record. We both learnt a lot making it. Each song went through a million iterations. Some songs we would experiment and spend a fortnight making an alternate version of the song only to bin it at the end, which is always pretty funny. None of it is a waste of time though. It’s all growth and experience. Some of those alternate versions made it onto the record as the final song. I’m really proud of it and am ready to put it out into the world. Right in the middle of making the record I was lucky enough to go to Copenhagen for the 10th anniversary of record label Posh Isolation after TNSW finished up a UK tour. It was 3 days of non-stop shows, yoga (lol) and art which was a very special experience. Institute were also in town so I managed to see them live too. The Scandinavian influence has definitely found its way on to this record.
Have there been any monumental moments in your career that you can share with us?
Acting opposite Willem Dafoe in The Hunter stands out as a special moment. He was so kind, present and gracious. I told him (thinking I was being really original) that my favourite character of his was Bobby Peru from Wild at Heart. I heard in a later interview of his that everyone says that. I was also thinking recently, about a time where I put my hand up when I was 15 years old to be the follow-spot operator of an amateur theatre production, just so I could be involved. The director of that theatre show ended up casting me in my first television series which drastically altered the course of my life. Producer Dean Tuza whisking me off to New York to write and record a MOSSY EP when neither of us had any money was a funny one as well. Grateful for that experience. One other funny story is that my brother, Ben, who produces and directs our These New South Whales mockumentary series one day downloaded the Unfollow app. He noticed one day that a man he had worked with briefly had unfollowed him on Instagram. He clicked on his profile and saw that he was now working at Comedy Central in acquisitions. So, Ben emailed him our series and that’s how we licensed it to Comedy Central—all that from the Unfollow app!
What is something you want to see more of in the world, and what do you want to see changed?
I want to see more acceptance, more kindness, more tolerance, more listening from everyone, myself included. For me, change in the world starts most importantly with observing my mind and my behaviour and attempting to understand it all and why I react the way I do. Who’s thoughts am I thinking? Are they even my own? There’s a lot of deprogramming to do. In the past, I’ve been quick to tell people what they need to do and how they need to think and the way things should be, and I realise now how arrogant and intolerant I can be. With that said, I’m also aware of the importance and desperate need for discussion, particularly on issues of great injustice around race, sexuality, gender and inequality, so there’s definitely a balance to be struck.
And my last question, how do you find balance in your life amongst all of your creative ventures? What keeps you centred?
Practicing mindful meditation has become an integral part of my daily routine. Silliness and clowning around are high on my priority list too. I follow heaps of mental health accounts on Instagram as a welcome reprieve from the noise, and love the philosophy of stoicism, which I read daily. I try to get up around the same time every day as well. I’ve given up trying to convince myself that it’s OK to sleep in. For me, I just end up feeling like shit. I gotta get up.
Jamie will also be giving a talk on the creative approach to his multiple projects alongside TNSW band member, Todd Andrews as a part of the Melbourne Music Week Schedule! See here for more.
All images by Joshua Hourigan